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Christians in a politically charged climate

Questions to ask as tensions ratchet up

Christians in a politically charged climate

A weathered American flag flies in front of the First Baptist Church of Gallant in Gallant, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

How are we to respond—in this overly sensitive, divided, and politically charged climate—to a society that needs to know Jesus’ love?  I think it starts with us doing some serious self-reflection on where our priorities lie, and even where our heart is. A few overarching questions I would ask:

Are we focused on love?  The world will know us by our love for each other (John 13:35), and how we love those who disagree with us—or who even curse us and persecute us (Matthew 5).  I’m not seeing this among some prominent Christian leaders. In all manner of social and public discourse right now—on issues ranging from mask-wearing, to equal rights, to respect for due process or respect for authority—there appears to be deep anger, outrage, a “call for blood” even! What about Paul’s admonition to “let your reasonableness be made known to everyone” (Philippians 4:5)? Is our love growing cold (Matthew 24:11-13)? I want to understand my more liberal (or more conservative) neighbors—maybe even learn something new, or change my opinion—as I focus on loving them.

What is our battle?  This leads me to my second point: What are we fighting against? Why is there so much resentment and anger? We know that we are not at war with flesh and blood, but against spiritual powers of darkness and evil (Ephesians 6:12). Our behavior (speaking very broadly) would suggest we are at war with anyone who thinks differently about very earthly matters. I’m sensing from many Christians I know a strong undertone of condemnation of anyone who dares question their political beliefs, their political candidate, and anything their candidate says and does. Any information, “facts,” or insightful arguments that do not support what they believe to be true are grounds for mockery and disdain. (This is true on both sides, but shouldn’t believers be different?) Is it realistic to think all truth only comes from one party or one person? Does it stand to reason that anything offered by the “other side” is inherently false? And even if it were that black and white, on what are we focusing our fight? Our battle is against the devil, and for the souls of man. Our focus should be on living out the gospel, loving others because of the eternal glory set before us (2 Corinthians 4:17-18). 

Which kingdom are we pursuing? If we were Christians anywhere else in the world, we would struggle less with the melding of nationalism and faith. As it is, the church in the United States—in my opinion—has a dangerous emotional and spiritual bond with conservative political power. They are not one and the same. Jesus was clear, “My kingdom is not of this world.” If it were, He would have fought more like we’re fighting today—for power and control. Listening to the leaders involved in the Jericho March, you would think that the president is our messiah and we are fighting for his kingdom on earth. Anything that pulls us away from our focus on God’s eternal kingdom, or draws on our passion and energy to preserve worldly possession or influence, plays into the devil’s hands. Let us vote our conscience for the leaders we believe are best able to govern our country. But let our hearts and minds pursue the eternal kingdom, not a kingdom of any kind on earth.

Are we guarding against deception? I do not read the Bible enough, nor am I praying in the Spirit as much as I should be, given these end times. I am increasingly aware of my susceptibility to false teaching and deceptive spirits as I read about how far a Christian leader can stray from his “first love.” We must absolutely test the spirits (1 John 4:1) and submit everything to God’s Word (Colossians 3:16) in order not to be deceived by the lust of the world (1 John 2:16).  The idols of my heart are a constant battle. Like all Christians who are also human, I do not always have Christ preeminent in my heart and mind. For some reason—unique to this time in history, and to this political climate, and to this leader—the Church is diverting much of its focus from God’s kingdom to political power. More than any time in my life, many of us threw our commitment and loyalty toward Donald Trump, to the point of even defining what is true by his standard. Some Christians claimed that any authority other than his was from the devil! This, I’m afraid, may be the fulfillment of verses such as 2 Timothy 4:2-4: “For the time will come when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”  I fear we may be following in the path of the Corinthian church that struggled with worldliness, heresies, and battled “party spirit,” which Paul decried (1 Corinthians 3:1-4, 21-23).

Waldemar Kohl is a consultant who lives with his wife Ann and their five children in Hampton, N.H.

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  • Cyborg3's picture
    Cyborg3
    Posted: Mon, 02/01/2021 12:26 am

    I posted this somewhere else but it applies here too.

    If we want to be martyrs, why don’t we go to an ISIS outpost and let them work their evil?  I had a friend from Eritrea who told the story about the Russian’s who were invading his land. All the devout Christians ran to the Church for protection, where the attackers lit the church on fire. My friend heard the cries of his family and friends and was forever tormented by it. He didn’t go to the church but hid away and lived. I told him that he did the right thing by playing smart and hiding away! Did not Paul use wisdom and was lowered along the wall in a basket to flee from people seeking his life? Did not David act as though he was crazy to get away from his attackers? We can play all spiritual about being martyrs and failing to fight the cultural war, but that is wickedness for we are commanded to confront ideas that are contrary to the gospel.

     “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Cor. 10:5

    The political climate does impact our ability to spread the gospel so Paul asked believers to pray that we have leaders who enable us to lead quiet lives.

    “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” 2 Tim. 2:1-4

    At the time Paul wrote this, all a Christian could do was to pray for the leaders because they had no voice in the political process. Our founding fathers gave us a voice by allowing voting and participation in our political process so we have a responsibility to wisely use that voice to further God’s Kingdom. The church that exists in the world now at this time is part of that kingdom, though the kingdom is fundamentally spiritual in nature, it does impact this world’s kingdoms.  

     BF: "If we devote ourselves to fighting those opposed to Christ, at what point do we lay down our arms and die for Christ?”

    Why did Paul allow himself to be lowered in the basket (Acts 9:20-25)? Could he not give himself up and be a martyr?  Why didn’t he do that? Because, fighting for Christ meant preaching the truth that had transformed his life - a vision of Christ. He went on preaching against idolatry and politically he raised the ire of those who made idols, for their businesses were being hurt. They chased him out of several cities!

    As Christians, we fight the cultural war where evil people try to destroy the remnants of Christianity from our culture, where we try to preserve them and expand on them. We stand up for religious liberties which allows us to preach our faith. We stand up for the standards and principles found in the Bible such as supporting life. We stand against laws that will destroy the peace of the church (e.g. hate speech laws that will cause fines, close our businesses, shut down our churches, cause us to lose our children, or send us to jail). We stand against anarchy of BLM, AntiFa and other radical groups that seek to dismantle society. Much more could be said here but you get my point. Fighting the cultural war is everything about promoting the peace and prosperity of the church!  It is about voting for the best possible candidate who has a viable chance to be elected even though he is much less than perfect. It is about standing up to the radical atheists who seek to steal our children from our churches. It is fighting the battle of our faith, bringing the gospel to our country and the world!

     

  • Cyborg3's picture
    Cyborg3
    Posted: Mon, 01/25/2021 01:08 am

    Yes, Christians are to love one another and those in the world as we go and bring the gospel, but we must love with discernment and not fall for the trickery of the Devil. 

    Not long ago I heard about a church I had visited a couple times with friends - a Bible believing church. The church was concerned about loving all people and bringing the gospel.  That love prompted them to be less political and to start a ministry focused on those who the church has sometimes neglected and dispised - homosexuals. Some members were not as keen on it but they remembered 1 Tim. 1:9,11,15 and the power of the gospel to overcome the worst of sinners, so they didn't object. Over time this ministry brought homosexuals into the church and the ministry team tried to tone down any negativity that may offend or scare off those they were ministering and bringing the gospel to. They wanted to be loving Christians. The leadership of the church was supportive and they brought in younger members onto the leadership who were supportive of the ministry. Soon there were discussions being heard about how homosexuals couldn't help being homosexual due to genetics. The more conservative members knew the minister and thought he would deal with it.  One day at church the members heard the minister was removed but no specifics were mentioned. Later after a new pastor was brought on, they found a flier one Sunday on their car saying the leadership had decided to change their policies and allow homosexuals to be members in the church. The older members who had attended for many years were shocked and dumbfounded. How did this happen to their church?
     
    The point is that sometimes the Devil and his followers use "love" and the "gospel" to accomplish Satan's purposes. A good thing of bringing the gospel to homosexuals, was perverted and effectively turned a Bible Church faithful to the gospel to one advocating sin and perverting the gospel. In other words, we need to make sure our love, with gospel focus, has discernment so we aren't naively swept away to do Satan's work. 
     

    Here as I have time, I will add to this.

  • My Two Cents
    Posted: Sun, 01/24/2021 02:53 pm

    I wholeheartedly agree, Mr. Kohl. Thank you for stating eloquently what I believe scripture to say about political loyalties. I was dismayed with Franklin Graham recently, when he posted a scathing rebuke against ten republicans who voted to impeach Trump. He went so far as to use the analogy of them betraying Trump for thirty pieces of silver. If that is not idol worship, I don't know what is. Graham does much for sharing the gospel of Christ, and administering humanitarian aid to people in crisis. I just feel by him delving so blatantly into the political arena, he has caused harm to the cause of Christ. 

  • Cyborg3's picture
    Cyborg3
    Posted: Tue, 01/26/2021 03:11 am

    Franklin Graham was exactly right. These politicians were not seeking the truth nor justice but were attempting to destroy Trump so he couldn't run in 2024. It was gross betrayal of a man who has given his all to fight our Christian cause. Would God be pleased by this Judas behavior towards Trump? I think not. Should not the church point out gross immoral behavior in our politicians? Yes it is Biblical for all you have to do is read Calvin's Institutes to see this. Turning on Trump the last few days in office was clearly disloyal and unloving, yet anti-Trumpers never want to talk about this immoral behavior. 
     

    Part of the problem today is that the younger people in their 30s and below have been misguided by schools, universities, Big Tech, the leftist MSM and even churches, where they believe the church has no role in politics.  This is a blatant lie by the Devil, where if Christians step out then he steps in. We saw this last election where not enough Christians where involved in the political process to prevent the Democrats from stealing the election so we have the serious mess that we see today. 

  • DCal3000
    Posted: Mon, 01/25/2021 12:17 am

    I think it is absolutely imperative that the church does not idolize American conservatism or Donald Trump.  But I would also note that this column is somewhat one-sided (though I do understand it represents only one viewpoint).  In some evangelical circles, social media has been lighting up with praise of the Biden/Harris administration, despite its dramatically pro-abortion stance and its efforts to redefine sexuality.  For instance, I can document that prominent Pastor Thabiti Anyabwile (through one of his likes that I witnessed on Twitter) supports the view that "character and sexuality/gender identity are not remotely the same." By all means criticize the excesses of Christian conservatives, but if you are either theologically or politically conservative, you also need to be aware that many in Reformed evangelical circles are moving hard left.  Maybe that's good (I think not), but be aware of it.  The excesses within the church are not all one sided.  My guess is that, within Reformed evangelical churches, the bottom is about to fall out for those who, like me, are politically pro-life, those who support traditional conceptions of sexuality, and those who oppose the non-Christian elements of critical race theory.  And in the process, many churches will fracture one way or the other.  It's already upon us.

  • Fuzzyface
    Posted: Tue, 01/26/2021 09:50 am

    I was never a Trump fan but I think that his administration was for the most part the best we've had in quite a while.  I've recently read a post from John A. Sparks of The Institute for Faith and Freedom at Grove City College that talks about the reasons for impeachment that I thought shed much light on the real impeachable offences. Please read this link:

    https://www.faithandfreedom.com/22966-2/

    If the Senate votes to impeach Trump I think that he should appeal to the Supreme Court who should throw out the impeachment.