Paul’s Revolution – Day 7
One reader has asked: Even if President Obama doesn’t conform to biblical Christian ideals, does that mean there isn’t anything that he does good that Christians can work with?
The Scripture says that God has established every government. God raises and brings down governments according to His will and plan. Especially in the Old Testament we see that God uses pagan governments to accomplish his plan. Of course most of the time he uses them as a tool of judgment or discipline on His people Israel. It is God’s sovereignty that provides hope when Christians have lived under repressive regimes.
The United States is unique (democratic governments in general) in all of history. The scriptures were written in a time when Christians had little or no say in the affairs of government and therefore their obedience to their authority (as long as it did not conflict with God’s will) was an example of their obedience to God. Today, however, we live in a country where we have the right to voice our praise or objections as part of our obligations as citizens. Christians have an opportunity to participate and shape the type of civil and political culture in which we want to live. If we retreat from this participation then we have no right to voice disapproval about things we don’t like, but as we participate we have a right to be heard and have our views considered.
The challenge is that in this form of government we are brought together with others who do not have our belief system or moral convictions. How do you work to accomplish the common good with people who do not have the same convictions? The one extreme is to take the passage that says we are not to be unequally yoked to mean that we should isolate ourselves from all those who think and believe differently and form small Christians communes. The other extreme is to embrace (tolerate) everything because peace is of greater value than moral and theological purity. Neither, really, is acceptable. Christians are called to live in the world and not be of the world, which means there is a constant tension we have to endure while trying to create change for all.
Ultimately, as Christians, our goal is to bring the good news of Christ to all that they might come to know the Father through Jesus’ redemptive act. To truly have a moral culture a changed life in Christ is the only remedy. We can legislate morality but that won’t change people (though laws are important to stem the tide of evil). So, are there things that pagan people bring to the table that are good and useful to a civilized society? The answer is (drum roll please) – Yes. All truth is God’s truth and there is much that can be learned from those outside the faith. So while working with unbelievers to better our society we need to live within the tension that the good they have to offer will only be of temporary value, because unredeemed man will always spiral into sin and destruction. It is the proclamation of the gospel that will truly bring about a changed culture. Jesus said he came to bring a sword. I believe what he meant was that the gospel is so radical that those who oppose it will ultimately do so with hatred and vengeance. Those who put themselves in the public forum and hold true to the gospel will always find themselves being attacked. But blessed are those who are hated for His Name sake.