Thursday, September 08, 2005

Preaching Politics

By Alexander Samuels

In the wake of Pat Robertson's remarks about assassinating Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Cal Thomas pointed out in one of his columns last week ("Political Preachers Deliver Misleading Message") that there are too many ministers who are mixing too much politics with the Christian message. Such men believe that true moral change can only take place in our country through the cooperation of our political institutions. The Sunday services in many churches and on television have more to do with the Christian's involvement in the political process and the latest on the political grapevine than with the good news of Jesus Christ.

Here's an excerpt from Thomas' column: . . .

While these apostles of political parties and personal agendas have every right to make fools of themselves, they are enabled in their foolishness by millions of people who blindly send them money. These money-senders are looking in the wrong place for their deliverance. While paying lip service to eternity, they seem to prefer immediate political gratification.

Few would pay attention to political preachers if these ministers did not have access to television and radio. And they would not have TV programs if people did not send them money which, in addition to buying TV time, is used to set most of them up in lifestyles that resemble the "rich young ruler." Jesus told the ruler to "sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven" (Luke 18:22), but many TV preachers seem to expect you to sell what you have and give to them.

Much of what is proclaimed as God's will on TV and in fundraising appeals is false religion. People who respond with checks are either ignorant or willfully disobedient to what their spiritual commander-in-chief and the early apostles taught and practiced.

One of the great pronouncements on a Christian's relationship to the world is contained in 1 John 2:15-17: "Do not love the world or anything in the world. . . . For everything in the world - the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does - comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away."

Too many Christians think if they shout loud enough and gain political strength the world will be improved. That is a false doctrine. I have never seen anyone "converted" to a Christian's point of view (and those views are not uniform) through political power. I have frequently seen someone's views changed after they have experienced true conversion and then live by different standards and live for goals beyond which political party controls the government.

It appears that some Christians have a tendency to follow charismatic speakers as their final authority on Biblical teaching. 2 Timothy 4:3-4 says, "For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths." Knowing very little about what the Scriptures actually say, these believers are easily led into error. Because we all are so anxious about the political future of our country, we are easily influenced by the financial pleas of those ministries that promise us that they will take action and that our message will change Washington.

The truth of the matter is that legislation and laws do not change people. It is after the Gospel changes lives that a converted nation enacts moral laws and righteous legislation. Christianity will change the world but it will take place at the rate of one life at a time. You can't convert millions unless you first convert one.

Christians have a role to play in politics, but it shouldn't be their primary concern. Jesus already rules heaven and Earth, and He has given us purpose and marching orders: "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me [Jesus]. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:18-20).

As Christians, it is our responsibility to seek first the Kingdom of God, which is found in our witness to our neighbors and by living our lives with integrity. It is there in the small ways that we share the love of Jesus with those who are suffering. It is there when we make disciples - not Democrats or Republicans. It is there when we learn that it is more important to obey God than win elections.

Alexander Samuels is a regular contributor to Carolina Christian Conservative.


At Monday, September 12, 2005 5:15:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

speaking of robertson and chavez, check out this article i ran across

i think it was posted like 9/9 or so...


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