Saturday, February 8, 2020

The Perils of "Political" Christianity

Well known and respected pastor John Macarthur made a very insightful comment the other day which set my thinking wheels to a higher gear than usual. In a question and answer session at the congregation where he preachers, Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, he was asked about politics and the atmosphere that permeates that world. In our politically charged society, especially in the campaigning season ahead of the 2020 elections, that is a question that occupies the minds of many, if not nearly all of us. 

The reply that brother Macarthur gave was so interesting, and so true, that I could not help but admire his wisdom and kindness. He said that, aside from all the disagreements we may have with politicians or their particular partisans, we must remember that as Christians we don't, we cannot, hate anyone, regardless of how abhorrent the political position they hold may be. I must confess that there have been times when I have intensely disliked certain people because of the politics they support. But brother Macarthur got it right. We cannot, as children of the God who does good to the evil and the good, allow ourselves the perverse luxury of hating anyone. 

Brother Macarthur went on to say that we cannot afford for anyone, even those who support such horrendous practices as abortion and transgenderism, to believe that we hate them. And the primary reason for that matter is simple: those folks are our mission field. If we mistreat them or otherwise make them feel hated or unloved then, how are we to be able to demonstrate that what we profess is true? How can we adorn the gospel if our attitude toward those who are disagreeable is one of repulsion or outright hate? Paul told Timothy to teach all to pray for kings and those in authority (1 Timothy 2:3). And he said that at a time when the king, Caesar, was hostile to the faith and would even, in Paul's case, end his life! How can we do less?

I know, some of you right about now may be thinking "what about the many within those groups such as homosexuals and others who see our denouncing of their sin as hate speech." I get it, there are a lot of folks out there who demand acceptance and approval. They are not content with simply being left alone to pursue their sin, they also demand that you approve and celebrate their perversions. I am not proposing quiet acquiescence to such actions. I am, however, proposing that we point out sin without being hateful or insulting.

It is true that we are grieved by the continuing downward spiral of our society's mores. The coarsening of society has been in full display in recent days as we have been treated to snubbed handshakes and ripped up speeches. Very often we feel like Lot who, living in the midst of untold immorality in Sodom, was continuously grieved and injured by the behavior of those around him. But the answer is not to lash out and "fight fire with fire." Rather, we are to imitate our Lord who "when he was reviled he did not insult, when He was threatened He did not threaten in return, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously" (1 Peter 2:19ff). That is the attitude that should characterize us each and every day in any and every situation. 

But rather than being imitators of our Lord, we often go on online social media to insult or belittle those who disagree with our political positions. At other times, we blind ourselves to the truth of particular candidates because they happen to hold a position about an issue that we like and which is a "deal breaker" for us. We are certainly to honor our leaders because they are our leaders. But we cannot be so blinded by our political likes and dislikes that we fail to see the obvious problems some individuals have. If we are willing to gloss over the obvious sinful behavior of our leaders, will it be long before we overlook our own? Or, are we already overlooking sin in our lives, thus becoming easier for us to overlook sin in others? 

We are not the judge of the earth. Far from it. We too will have to stand before the judgement seat of Christ. But if we are so willing to allow sin to be just another choice simply because we agree with an individual's politics, where will it end? Overlooking sin in any form hardens us to its deceitfulness. In order for us to remain sensitive to our own sin, we have to remain sensitive to it wherever it is found. A man is known for those things for which he takes a stand. He who stands for nothing, will fall for anything.

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