This is a small foray into a much bigger and complex topic related to the cries for social justice.
Social Justice is the burning issue of the day.
Not because it really is the burning issue; but, because it has been decided it will be the key issue by those who are the manipulators of what we hear and see via the various outlets of news and information.
Make no mistake about it: this is pure, unadulterated manipulation. When you get yourself caught up in it you can lose all perspective and find yourself down a road you never intended to go, but you are there and it is often unclear how to retreat.
We have been rather silent on the whole issue, and this is intentional.
We have many articles and videos and messages saved on the topic of social justice.
We have books we have read, and we have talked quite a bit about it privately.
With the exception of one podcast on Racism and Riots, and a few pointed comments in various other podcasts we’ve shown a reluctance to get our voices out there to be heard.
Instead we pointed you to some good sources who speak well on the subject, and it did our hearts good to then see several of our listeners begin to share quotes and articles by those people.
You cannot reason with a mob. Right now that is all there really is: a mob of little children in adult bodies running around cities having a tantrum.
They are being cheered and lionized for it by the elite who want a radical paradigm shift to occur through revolution. They just don’t want to get their own hands dirty in the process.
Add to that the fact that we live in a time where if you are unhappy and you perceive that somehow someone said something slightly off target that you can just cancel them. Shut their business down. Destroy their vehicle. Crowd shame them in every way possible. Shut down their social media accounts. Beat them. Get them fired from their job. It really doesn’t matter what is done, they just cancel you.
So how do we try to speak wisdom in that reality?
We are only speaking about the general issue of social justice at this point. What about the reality we see unfolding before us within the visible church in America?
There is a new orthodoxy that is emerging and if you can’t sign on then you are going to be canceled as well.
Sermons and blog posts and little videos abound telling us how we need to think one way or another because that is the Christian way.
We are pretty convinced that if the Church can’t figure out something as simple as believer’s baptism, then it is doubtful that we will create a unified understanding of human equality and social justice. And yes, we really do think that the issue of baptism is simple as that.
So when we see prominent pastors saying that you either get on board with their new “wokeness” or leave their church our eyebrows raise up a bit. Actually, a lot.
If we hear the idea that social justice is a “gospel issue” again we may vomit.
When you have Thabiti tweet this there is a problem: “What's needed is: 1. Solidarity with us *as Black people*. 2. Your emphasizing solidarity with Black people to such an extent that we're in turn freed to accept and emphasize solidarity in Christ. Until that happens, we'll have to choose Black solidarity b4 Xian to live.”
You can read it as a part of a larger thread of his.
In the cities we live and minister in it is a tinder box of simmering anger. And all the while we have pulpits who are either silent or help encourage people to think in a manner inconsistent with the bible all the while claiming it is biblical.
Now we even are hearing conversations about an impending civil war within the nation. And questions are being asked if it is biblical for the Christian to participate in such a war.
We have brothers-in-Christ who are police officers who wonder if they can even continue going to their church. They once were viewed as people worthy of respect, now they are the problem with racial and social injustice.
Add to this the fact of a major election coming up, the so-called pandemic that is crippling our economy and allowing state and local governments to grab even more power, and you have what is affectionately known as 2020.
In other words, there are so many ways you can deal with social justice and that is part of the challenge. So we are trying to back into this hot mess in a way that can perhaps help our church members, and perhaps those who also listen in as well.
This podcast will only serve as a brief introduction to how Christians and politics mix together, but we hope it will get us all thinking more and talking less as we consider the Christian and politics.
There are few things that affect us more than the government.
This is a reality we often don’t realize until we try to do something new.
Built a fence?
Dig a pond?
Sell a product?
Create a medicine?
Shoot a gun?
Make some food?
When you think about the upcoming election for president or your governor or Senator or Congressman you should be asking yourself certain questions.
War in Afghanistan.
Freedom of education.
Freedom of religion.
These are some key ones that have major consequences in our lives. You might include police powers, local government powers to the list as well.
Our point is simple:
Politics is not something to be casual about as it intrudes into every part of our life.
So, with this in mind we will give a few points related to government and politics to think about and then develop it a bit, including some thoughts on war. Hopefully by that time we will be able to weigh in a bit more on the social justice challenges that are before us all.
How did government come about?
Not from man, but from God.
Romans 13:1 - "Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities. [Why? Two reasons given] For (1) there is no authority except from God, and (2) those which exist are established by God."
In fact, the first sense of emerging governments is found in Genesis 9.
After the flood God gives a series of laws out to Noah.
In Genesis 9:6 it is written: "Whoever sheds man's blood, By man his blood shall be shed, For in the image of God He made man.”
It is here that we see the beginnings of justice played out and that there was a role that society played in punishing wrongdoers.
It is also showing the harsh reality that sin exists and therefore there needs to be a structure in place that allows for issues of right and wrong to be resolved and executed.
This continued to evolve so that by Genesis 10 we see a man named Nimrod come into view...and we have the first mention of a kingdom–one that led to the tower of Babel in chapter 11.
It is also interesting that government doesn’t end in eternity. God remains king over all of creation.
This is worth noting because we often think of government as the rule enforcer and the tool to deal with law-breakers.
In the new heavens and earth, sin no longer is an issue, but there is still a king. Something worth thinking about a bit.
To Summarize: We have learned that God has created government, not man. And we have learned that government does not always function in a righteous manner–they can and do disobey God. And finally, that in the end there will still be a government, but not to hand out punishment for evil doers, but to exercise righteousness and goodness throughout the universe.
Most, if not all, of us will never create a new government, or nation. Most of us will have little impact on major national issues and policies.
So, what can we do?
What should we do?
We want to give you ways for the Christian to respond to politics and government:
Pray for those in authority.
"First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior," (1 Tim. 2:1-3)
Note the “so that” or “in order” in vs 2. This gives us the goal of our prayer and by doing that it also gives us the content of our prayers.
For bad rulers, we ask God to change their hearts so that we can live a tranquil life. For a good leader we thank God for them and ask that they flourish that we might flourish.
"[give to the priests all that they need] that they may offer acceptable sacrifices to the God of heaven and pray for the life of the king and his sons." (Ezra 6:10)
This is telling because we see the priests are expected to be praying for a foreign king that he and his family’s lives go well.
One wonders how often this idea is carried forth into the American church where the people of God are all priests before the Lord.
Such a simple activity, and yet it is often forgotten.
We have access to God through Christ!
Proverbs 21:1 "The king's heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes."
This is an amazing statement, if you just let your mind dwell on that.
Yet, how many Christians so hate Trump that they won’t even pray for him? Rather, they will simply grumble against him and dishonor him via social media-- and this, despite 1 Pet. 2:17 “Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.”
How many Christian refused to do this when Obama was in office?
How many homes practice this around the dinner table or during family worship? It is something to consider.
Submit to governing authorities.
"Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. (Romans 13:1)
Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men." (1 Pet. 2:13-15)
When times are easy, we find this easy. But when times get hard we find this becomes much more of a burden or an area of struggle.
When do we not submit?
For many this is not an easy question, and I would agree with this in a unique situation.
Consider Nazi Germany:
Men like Bonhoeffer became part of a group seeking to assassinate Hitler because he believed Hitler to be evil, a usurper of the true government and destructive to both Germany and the gospel.
If someone were to ask us if they should rebel against our government, we would be very hesitant to help them or encourage them.
But. . .
There are situations where we must resist.
"But Peter and the apostles answered, "We must obey God rather than men." (Acts 5:29)
Most certainly, if we are prevented from doing what Jesus commands us, then we must disobey. We must accept the consequences.
Perfect examples of this are in the book of Daniel:
Daniel and the lions den, not eating the food, etc. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and the furnace. This one being key because the government mandated them to worship something other than YHWH.
There are situations where we MAY resist.
Example: Rahab in Joshua 2.
She hid the men, lied to keep them alive, let them escape knowing full well that they were going to destroy her city.
She knew of YHWH, and believed that Israel would conquer her city. She knew that they served the true God and asked that they show her and her family mercy.
Here we have a person who rebels against her country because she believes that another nation is right and just.
One other example is perhaps where the government, such as ours, is defined by a clear document, the Constitution, but it no longer follows it and even violates it.
Seek to be an influence.
“I say, ‘Keep the command of the king because of the oath before God. Do not be in a hurry to leave him. Do not join in an evil matter, for he will do whatever he pleases. Since the word of the king is authoritative, who will say to him, ‘What are you doing?’ He who keeps a royal command experiences no trouble, for a wise heart knows the proper time and procedure. For there is a proper time and procedure for every delight, though a man's trouble is heavy upon him.’” (Eccl. 8:2-6)
Here we have Solomon telling the rulers in Israel that they need to obey the king because they made an oath before God.
In vss 3-4 we have a lot of wisdom.
First, don’t get mad and leave his presence. If you do, then you will never have any more opportunity to influence him.
Second, don’t blindly agree with him and follow where he goes. You can counsel (vote) against it, but then, if it is ignored, if it is evil, you do not have to participate in it.
Lastly, you have to remember that if you don’t have authority over the person, you can’t demand an accounting—you have to leave that to God.
Often Christians can have great influence in their world.
- Running for school board, or bigger!
- Volunteering for various local events.
- Financially supporting candidates that are good and wise.
- Calling and writing to your officials.
And finally, don’t put your hopes in politics.
We must remember that we serve a different Lord and we have a different kingdom.
We are to live in this world like a person who is a citizen of another country would live.
Question: What would that look like?
- We preach the gospel.
- We live out the consequences of the gospel.
- We love the people as God loved us while we were yet sinners.
So these are just some of our beginning thoughts.
Our plan is to develop this in future episodes.