Ask A Bad Christian – Day 1

Sorry for the delay in the wildly anticipated “Ask A Bad Christian” feature. Yesterday on a business trip I got to circle Nashville for an hour or so and then fly to Huntsville, Alabama to wait out a thunderstorm in the Music City. So that put a dent in the writing schedule. However, the questions are pouring (okay, dribbling) in and we start with a question from Cheryl.

Hi there.

I have begun to wonder about my political affiliation. Always I have considered myself a conservative politically and a Republican but I wonder now if I should be a Democrat or Independent. I have changed so much recently. I am bothered by the conduct of many Christian conservatives and do not wish to be grouped with them. I do not see myself voting for any of the present front-runners, especially considering that the Republican in the lead stood beside Pat Robertson and proudly accepted his endorsement.

Dave, what is your advice concerning politics and Christianity?  Cheryl

Wow. Good question. I have been registered as a Republican for most of my voting career. I will likely change that to Independent because of my discomfort with both parties. I will still likely vote for conservatives because of some issues that are important to me but it will not be automatic. I think that Christians need to be engaged in the political process. We should be knowledgable. I have no problem with Christians entering politics or working on campaigns. I do have a problem with the thinking that we can redeem the culture through politics or media or any vehicle other than through the hearts of individuals. Jesus had a chance to be political. He said to render unto Caesar what was his but Jesus clearly chose to work in the hearts of men and women. I suspect that He could have had a Damascus Road encounter with influential rulers or philosophers. He chose to change the hearts of twelve regular men who helped change the world. I believe we must be good citizens and part of that is voting wisely.

So I do not believe you have to be a Republican to be a Christian. Like it or not, heaven will be bipartisan and I am totally fine that there will not be sides of the golden aisles. I do not believe that God is “judging” America for any particular sin. But if He is judging this country I would suspect it is for the massive squandering of wealth and resources that we have been blessed with while giving back an average of less than three percent.

So I get uncomfortable with leaders who claim that America is being judged for this sin or that sin.

Dr.Gregory Boyd said that, “Christians are not to seek “power over” others – by controlling governments, passing legislation or fighting wars. Christians should seek to have “power under” others – winning others hearts by sacrificing for those in need.”

And that is indeed what Jesus did. That is EXACTLY how a group of men and women in the first century with NO political power turned the world upside down.

Dr.Boyd also noted that “America is not the light of the world and the hope of the world. The light of the world and the hope of the world is Jesus Christ.”

Hard to argue with that. American has been blessed beyond measure. But I fear we are in danger of forfeiting the blessings God has bestowed by becoming self-absorbed and not generous. I have written often about the lack of giving in the evangelical community. We (protestants) give a paltry 2% on average. Evangelicals are only slightly better at 4%. If we simply tithed we would have enough resources to feed evey hungry person AND have enough left over to fund outreaches to tell the world about Jesus. But we choose to buy a better car, a bigger screen TV, and demand that politics make a difference. The fact is that laws and government can only restrain. Jesus can change the heart and change behavior from the inside out. 

I am not smart enough to decide what God has called people to do. If He has placed a desire for people to impact the culture through political action I am not about to question their motives. But I do agree that His house should be a house of worship and not a house of political promotion. Political outreaches should, in my opinion, find venues outside of the sacred space that is God’s sanctuary.

I am active politically. I study issues and candidates and I always vote. I give to causes that I believe in and I would be willing to work for a candidate that shared my goals for our country. But Sunday should be about Jesus. I think the church (on Sundays) should steer clear of politics. God’s Word taught effectively will mold followers of Jesus that will view social issues wisely. Moralizing on sexual issues has produced guilt but not real results. Jesus forgave the woman caught in sin and THEN said go and sin no more. My goal is to introduce people to Jesus, disciple them into a real relationship with Him, and then  watch as the Holy Spirit changes what my sermonizing cannot.

The body of Christ is about Jesus. About being a good citizen that respects authority. And about demonstrating His amazing grace to a desparately needy world. The message should be grace, redemption, and the forgiveness available to everyone. All parties are welcome at the foot of the cross. We need to spend more time there…for the good of America.