I am sometimes asked why I do not focus more on politics. The simple answer is Jesus and the gospel. The mission of the church was given to us by Jesus in the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19- “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…” The mission of the church is not a political mission, it is a spiritual mission. Our mission as a church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ and we are to pursue it with the same monomaniacal tenacity as did Jesus and the apostles.
The mission of the church is simply a continuation of Jesus’ mission. Jesus said in Luke 19:10- “for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” The zealots and many of the people who followed Him wanted Jesus to affect political change because of their exceedingly wicked and corrupt government, but Jesus made clear He had a higher and eternal calling. Jesus said in Luke 4:43- “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent.” Who the president is and what the laws are over the next four years will not even be a footnote of history a million years from now, but those who come to faith in Christ will eternally shine like the stars of heaven (Daniel 12:3). I am not trying to minimize the temporal implications of political happenings; I am defending why Jesus and the apostles chose to pursue the preaching of the gospel and the making of disciples over temporal pursuits.
An essential aspect of making disciples is to speak and teach the truth of God, i.e., all things Jesus commanded. Jesus and the apostles addressed all sin issues, but always from a theological perspective and never from a political one. By doing so they made it clear our allegiance is to God and not man. Politics is often driven by compromise, but the Word of God never is. The church must address the moral issues of our day, but rather than saying, “Thus says the Republican or Democratic party…,” we should say, “Thus says the Lord our God.”
If the mission of Jesus and the apostles was a political one we would have to say it was an utter failure. Not only did they fail to affect any political change, they never even advocated for it. Their concern was not to change the government, their concern was to obey God. Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). The mission of the church is not external conformity, but internal transformation. Political transactions cannot cause a person to be born again, only the gospel of Jesus can transform the heart. However, does that mean following Jesus has no affect on how we view or approach politics? Not at all. In fact, it has everything to do with how we approach politics.
Christians are called to be salt and light in a dark and depraved world, and in a democracy like America that includes the political process. As Christians we are to seek to vote in such a way as to promote the upholding of righteousness and the punishment of evil (Romans 13:1-7)—both of which are biblically defined—and to understand by doing so we are honoring God. God often calls some individual believers to pursue the temporal good of society through being more active in politics, and for that we should all be thankful. Politics is a great calling as are many other callings, but they all pale in comparison to the call God has given believers to preach the gospel.
The church’s greatest temptation is for the good to become the enemy of the best. 1 John 2:15-17 says, “Do not love the world or the things in the world… the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” Politics is passing away and so will our love and desire for it, but our King and His kingdom will be eternal. May we never become more passionate about politics than we are about sharing the gospel or teaching God’s Word. The gospel of Jesus Christ alone “is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes.” If that is true and it is, then Christians should primarily be known for being passionate about the gospel of Jesus Christ more than anything else.
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