1 Thessalonians 5:22 – “Avoid every kind of evil.” NIV
Through the years, I have had well-meaning and genuinely concerned believers including preachers tell me, “Roy, you need to stay out of politics after all ‘Separation of Church and State.’ Remember politics is a dirty business and we are to avoid evil.” I found some misunderstandings as well as truth in what they stated. Let me explain from my understanding of the Bible and Life.
Jesus was criticized for associating with politicians and non-believers, even to the point they questioned his morals and called him a drunk and glutton. I am convinced that He was never drunk and physically fit so neither charge could be appropriately made to stick. Jesus, in many ways, was political. Before you turn me off let me explain.
- He was involved in the Real World.
He came to earth to be involved in the oppressed and politically corrupt world and was fiercely brave in His willingness to address the corruption, challenge the political correctness, and identify the sin of the world He had entered. He did not hide behind the four walls of a church building, nor restrict His associations to those who believed and desired righteousness. He was out and about in the real world dealing with real people with real problems. He was truly one who KEPT IT REAL.
- He did not hold his tongue regarding the cultural issues of His day.
He never held a political office but spoke with prophetic authority to the social and political issues of His day. He was so bold and exposed corruption to the degree He was considered a major threat to the “status quo” and they sought to eliminate Him. He addressed fair wages, unjust trade, oppression of the widows and even economic injustices. Remember His actions in the temple with the “moneylenders?”
- He had a political agenda.
Before you cry foul, let me explain that His political agenda was not of this world but He addressed real needs of real people and that included exposing the corruption of those in power.
We have been called to be “lights shining in the darkness” and we cannot do that hiding behind the confines of the church walls or limiting ourselves to associations with fellow believers where there are no threats. If we are going to be “watchmen on the walls” and sound the alarm we have to be out where the danger is. Yes, our objective is to “win souls to Christ” but once won still have to exist or live in this present world.
If the government of man “seeks righteousness” we can bless it. If the government commits a wrong act we must “rebuke” it like Nathan the prophet did with David (2 Samuel 12:1-4). If the government is “idolatrous and wicked” like that of Ahab and Jezebel we are obliged to respond like Elisha (2 Kings 9:1-37). If the government is “stubborn and cruel” we are charged to not only sound the alarm but seek to liberate the captives as did Moses. (Exodus 1-5). If the government could be identified as a “good pagan government” like Nebuchadnezzar then like Daniel we can participate and through our faithfulness and righteousness along with sound counsel win the King to God. If the government is “efficient but unrighteous” like the Roman Empire we respect it but separate ourselves from its wicked ways. If the government is “corrupt” we are obliged to expose it even when that places our own safety in peril.
The idea of “Separation of Church and State” has come to mean that the church cannot be involved in government more than it means the government cannot mandate its edicts to the church. Both are wrong! The Church is separate from the State but that does not mean God is separate from either. The founding fathers sought the influence of the Bible and the guidance of religious leaders in their deliberations as they sought to form the Republic. As believers, we should be bold enough to speak truth, explain how programs are beneficial or detrimental both biblically, morally, factually, socially, and economically. If we are silent, they deem that as consent or weakness and seek further erosions in our rights and liberties. If we are to “warn the wicked” we must sometimes stand on the rooftop and shout the message. In so doing we may save some from the sure destruction and win them to Christ.
God bless you as you go through this day!