Wednesday, November 08, 2006

christian politics?

Yesterday was the big Election Day. Today the TV networks go back to commercials about Viagra and Volkswagens, rather than the past month’s 30 second spots trying to convince us which politician is a bigger liar.

At times people have hoped that Faith Church would become more politically active. Because there are so many moral policy issues out there that are spoken to by Scripture, many Christians feel compelled to do the work of God through governmental means. I’ve had people get upset with me (really angry). Why? Because we do not more regularly take a stand on policy issues from the platform.

Ted Haggard was one of those who felt government should hear the voice of evangelical Christians loud and clear. Unless you’ve been under a rock for the last week, you’ve heard how this megachurch pastor and political insider was exposed for moral sin and hypocrisy. Unfortunately, his public disgrace and private shame have focused the spotlight on the role of Christian leaders in influencing government.

So here’s the question for the day. Where do we draw the line in a Christian’s responsibility to get politically involved? God has called us to change the world. But do we accomplish that through the government or through the Good News?

We need to stand up and not be ashamed our beliefs. We have every right to vote our moral convictions. I hope you voted and made your selections from within the framework of a biblical worldview. In fact, many Christians are called to serve God in that arena. I give thanks for them and feel that we should vote for them (if and when they are competent to the task).

But for the average Christian and for the corporate church in general, the line in the sand is somewhat fuzzy. I think at times we are guilty of preaching to culture about its need for biblical ethics, which is an awful lot like getting the cart before the horse.

Jesus never sought to change a person’s behavior, until AFTER he had touched their heart. How can you expect culture to accept the values of Christ, when it has not yet experienced the love and life-changing power of Christ?

Read the New Testament. Paul, Peter and the early church leaders spoke out in the public arena all the time. Like Billy Graham (a man who exemplifies the kind of balance to which I’m referring), they often held audience with government and community authorities. But when they spoke in those environments, did they focus on policy, elections and conservative values? The answer: no. They spoke about the love and forgiveness that Christ demonstrated on the cross that he would forgive sinners like me.

Did they ever address the issues of morality, lifestyle choices, behavior, character, family and the like? YES, absolutely. But they preached those issues to the Christian Church. They didn’t expect someone who doesn’t know Christ, to live like a Christian.

We often get the order mixed up. The sequence goes like this: First someone gets Jesus in their heart, then that person’s perspective begins to change on all those other issues.

Do you want to change the world? Do you want to change America? Do you want to change our community? I sure hope so. That is what God has called us to do. But the Church’s message is not a message about Christian policy and values. Our message is about Jesus…plain and simple. Give people Jesus, and culture will be changed…one life at a time.