Rights and Right Focus

It is interesting how time and again Paul asserted his civil rights as a Roman citizen. Yet, neither do we find him, nor Jesus—nor, for that matter, any of the apostles—ever demanding that the government change things to conform to Christian principles.  There is no such thing as a Christian Politician in the New Testament, and there are no examples of believers protesting, demanding that some laws be changed.

As a matter of fact, it was long after, when Constantine wedded the church and the state—for whatever purposes he may have had in mind—that the church began to go downhill. There is something about the church taking the initiative to get mixed up in the state’s business that God doesn’t seem to honor!

In our time, and in our democracy (is it really a republic anymore?), the church seems not to understand this fact. Moreover, it becomes obvious to anyone who has lived 82 years (as I now have) that the seemingly large gains have not turned out to be so large after all—or lasting. Indeed, many of these “gains” in the long run have actually turned out to be losses.

If Christian magazines didn’t have a lot to write about politics in relationship to the church, they’d probably fold for lack of material. After all, is the emphasis of the church today on the right thing? Is the passage (or failure) of a bill in the congress as important as the beginning of a new congregation in Chinatown? As the salvation of a child in Sunday School, in God’s sight? In yours?

Perhaps we need to examine our priorities when it comes to prayer, to the giving of time and money and those long, heated political discussions with others. Where do we put the focus? Where does our money go? With what matters are we concerned to speak over and over again with other people? In other words—what are our priorities? Perhaps our concerns are wrongly placed. Perhaps we should get back to more Bible study, more fellowship around the Word—discussing passages of the Bible with other Christians, and spending more time witnessing to the lost!

Politics is an interesting area (as Citizens we can’t avoid it altogether)—but it can soon overcome us in ways that tend to make us forget who is really in charge of what will happen on earth tomorrow, and in days ahead to our children. Perhaps we should re-focus—making sure that in the lens we see what the Scriptures place up front and center rather than focusing on some other interesting, even vital, topic off to the side. What do you think?

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