The midterm elections are finally over and I say good riddance. And not just because it means the end to endless political commercials, robo-calls, and mailers.
I used to follow politics quite a bit and get involved in philosophical arguments online about the role of government. But as my understanding of the Kingdom of God has changed, so has my view of politics.
In the US, we have Christians Democrats, Christian Republicans, Christian conservatives and Christian progressives all of who believe they are on God’s side fighting for what is right.
Christians who are progressive Democrats look at Jesus exhortations to care for the sick, the poor, the orphans, the widows, and believe that means they should advocate government policies that do those things.
Christians who are conservative Republicans look at passages in scripture that exhort people to avoid sexual immorality, drug and alcohol abuse, harsh language, and to work hard and care for one’s family, and believe that means they should advocate government policies that encourage these things.
As I’ve come to better understand the kingdom of God and the way it stands in stark contrast to the systems of this world, I want to put forth this hypothesis:
The less “Christian” a government is, the greater the opportunity followers of Jesus have to live for Jesus and his kingdom.
2 Corinthians 12:9 says,
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
In this passage, Paul, the apostle makes the point that it is in the areas where we are weakest that God’s power is most evident.
- When we are healthy, we don’t see God’s healing. But when we are sick, we can see his healing or see the way he sustains us through the illness, and we can share that story with others.
- When we are wealthy, we don’t see God’s provision. But when we are in need, we can see his provision, and we can share that story with others.
- When we are treated fairly, we don’t see God’s protection. But when we are in danger or treated unjustly, we can see his protection or the way he sustains us through injustice, and we can share that story with others.
This is not only true on a micro (individual) level, but it is also true on a macro (societal) level.
God’s power is most obvious when our government systems are weakest.
- When the government does not provide money, health care, job training, transportation, housing, it provides followers of Jesus with the opportunity to stand out by being radically generous and helping the people around us.
- When the government normalizes lifestyles the bible says are harmful and immoral, it provides followers of Jesus the opportunity to practice radical holiness even if that leads to criticism, ostracism, business losses, or worse.
- When the government doesn’t care for orphans and widows, it provides followers of Jesus the opportunity to practice radical hospitality at their own expense and sacrifice.
- When the government implements burdensome taxes and regulations, it provides followers of Jesus the opportunity to show radical contentment and trust that Jesus’ burden is light.
- When government officials and party loyalists use harsh language to stir up fear, distrust, and division, it provides followers of Jesus with the opportunity to stand out by being radically inclusive and peaceful.
The preface to 2 Corinthians 12:9 is that Paul, the apostle, prayed and asked God to remove a “thorn from his side” three times.
God chose not to saying, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” After that, we never hear Paul mention the “thorn” again. He didn’t complain about. He didn’t keep lobbying for its removal. He didn’t make excuses because of it.
He trusted that God knows what he was doing, that he works all things for the good of those who love him and have been called according to his purpose. And he passionately pressed on doing the Lord’s work.
Do you see the government or President Trump or liberals or conservatives as a “thorn” in your side?
If so, perhaps we should do as Paul did – pray, trust God with the result, and passionately press on.
The kingdom of God is not advanced or hindered by government policy.
The kingdom of God operates in the shadows.
It lives in the cracks that people might otherwise fall through.
Comment and Discuss
- How important are elections to you?
- What do you think of the idea that the less “Christian” a government is, the greater the opportunity followers of Jesus have to live for Jesus and his kingdom?