Taming Politics

Politics should not be an idol nor something to be ignored.

Politics should be stewarded with thankfulness.

Please share your insights by commenting below this post.

Political thinking does not arise in a vacuum, nor do our politics stay neatly within the walls we erect around them…

On the contrary, political convictions emerge from our deep underlying assumptions about reality, life, and what we believe about the world we inhabit. While political possibilities shift, biblical truth does not – neither should our convictions.

 

Some treat politics as a worldview – this is wrong. Politics is incapable of answering the bigger questions of life and existence (origin, meaning, identity, morality, destiny). In other words, politics is too small to function as a comprehensive worldview.

On the other hand, some believe politics has no place within a Christian worldview or mitigate its importance – this is also wrong. If a worldview is incapable of containing politics, that worldview is too small.

Only a full-orbed Kingdom vision is capable of not only containing but taming and shaping our politics. For the Christian, our politics should flow from deeply held truths about God, His reality, His creation, His commands, and our responsibility. We must ground our politics in the Word of God, obey His commands, and reflect on the implications of scripture upon our cultural moment.

Politics properly understood impacts individuals made in the image of God with intrinsic value and worth. Because politics involves people we are commanded to love regardless of their political positions – we have a responsibility to properly steward politics. A good gardener would no more allow weeds and pests to infest his gardens than Christians ought to allow harmful ideas and bad policies to infest the way we govern a society comprised of image-bearers – our neighbors.

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind… And “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39 ESV)

Can we truly claim to love God and love our neighbors while allowing evil and destructive policies to harm our neighbors who are created in God’s image?

Someone said that “politics has sucked the air out of the room” in our social discourse. I agree!  However, I will take it a bit further…  Politics IS the room and the door is locked.

I believe the Church is the only institution on the planet that possesses the only key to unlock the door. But it will require the recovery of an integrated Kingdom vision where we live under the rule and reign of Jesus Christ – declaring the Lordship of Christ over all things… even political things.

Politics should not be an idol nor something to be ignored. Politics should be stewarded with thankfulness.

 

Please share your insights by commenting below this post.

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How Then Shall We Vote?

For the Christian, there will be political implications of our Biblical worldview. What we believe about God, ourselves, others, and His creation will shape our politics and how we vote.

Please share your insights by commenting below this post.

In America, we fail to realize people around the globe would die to have their voice heard politically or be able to vote in a legitimate election. They don’t possess the opportunity and freedom to run for office or vote. In America, we need to remember this fact… We can vote. We should vote. How then shall we vote?

When it comes to political engagement, some Christians will try to convince you to remain silent or shame you for speaking up.

Why? Because they believe being ‘political’ is somehow antithetical to the Gospel. As if the infinite Gospel of the Kingdom is too small to contain politics.

Have you noticed these pietistic holier-than-thous are the ones who’s social media feeds and conversations are brimming with under-informed political commentary and flimsy theological arguments? Have you noticed how they subtly shame others?

They claim Christians are to be ‘apolitical’ (non-political). But they attempt to persuade others by making political statements and taking political postures themselves. It is intriguing that these pietistic pundits tend to lean left politically. If you lean left, that’s fine with me but don’t cloak it in Christian garb. Don’t cloak the right in Christian platitudes either.

Some have developed an allergy to certain personalities. So, they vote for more ‘tame’ personalities that don’t upset their sensibilities. They are too fearful, shallow, and shortsighted to think through the long term implications of their vote.

Do they believe the Gospel is too delicate to withstand the storms of politics?

Recently, I had a conversation with a fellow Christian friend who stated that one of his biggest fears was to be labeled a Christian Nationalist. Christian Nationalism is a loaded term and carries negative connotations. My response to my friend was, “what do you mean by Christian Nationalism?” After all, several definitions exist. He lacked a coherent response. Obviously, he had not thought deeply about the issue. His position was emotionally based in his fear and a need to be accepted. No one likes to be called names or rejected. Even though that is exactly what Jesus promises in Scripture (see John 18:15-25, Matthew 5:11-12).

In the final analysis, my friend was incapable of properly articulating much less understanding one of his biggest fears. That’s a problem. Meanwhile, his social media posts over the last two years are filled with poorly formed political and theological arguments of why Christians ought not to be political or vote for certain candidates who he finds distasteful. He posts articles and books from pastors and Christian leaders who support his chosen political position. Unbeknownst to him, the non-Christian world has already labeled him a Christian Nationalist. My friend is walking into the very snare he’s trying desperately to avoid.

The holier-than-thous’ defense is usually some form of Tone-policing. I’ve written about this here

Hey, look at me, I’m not one of them” is not an effective strategy to reach lost people. The unbelieving world doesn’t care. They hate you, your Bible, and your God. No amount of virtue signaling is going to change that. So, get over it and return to biblical fidelity, a bold public witness, and a faith that is undefiled by the world. (It wouldn’t hurt to apologize to the people you’ve shamed).

Dear Christian, if your worldview isn’t big enough to contain politics, then your worldview is too small.

As Christians, our politics and how we vote must be formed and shaped by a biblical vision of the world and grounded in truth. The Bible doesn’t tell us who to vote for. However, the Bible does tell us how to vote. The Bible provides moral laws and principles to guide our politics and inform our vote. John Stonestreet once said, “The Bible isn’t a book to be looked at, but a lens to be looked through.” In addition, we must understand our cultural moment. 

We ask the questions; What is our current situation or cultural moment? And what does the Bible have to say about it?

For the Christian, there will be political implications that flow from a Biblical worldview. What we believe about God, ourselves, others, and creation will shape our politics and how we vote. Our theology should direct our vote.

A few thoughts…

Why vote?

Authority – America is different from other nations. From a governance standpoint, our government is not the authority. “We the people” are the authority. With that in mind, go and read Romans 13. Question the Romans 13 sermons that were used during the COVID lockouts to justify closing churches, keeping you silent, and subservient. God’s Word is our ultimate authority.

Opportunity – As I said, In America, we fail to realize that Christian brothers and sisters around the globe would die to have their voice heard politically or be able to vote in a legitimate election. Honor your brethren in closed countries by stewarding your privilege well in your nation.

Stewardship – All Americans and particularly Christians have the privilege and responsibility to vote and influence politics. We Christians vote according to biblical principles. Again, our government structure is unique. In His providence and mercy, God has given us a voice and influence to steward in the political realm. The purpose of government is to promote righteousness for the good of the people and government (read Proverbs). If we refuse to steward the gift God has given us, we will lose the gift.

That said, we run afoul when we place politics or politicians at the center of our lives. Do not enthrone a politician over and above Christ. Instead, proclaim the Lordship of Christ over politicians and political realm allowing His Word to guide you.

“But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear; do not be shaken.” But in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord…”

– 1 Peter 3:14-15a

How to vote?

Wisdom – Fear of the Lord leads to wisdom and life. The fear of man sets a snare. Pray for wisdom and seek it in Proverbs and Ecclesiastes.

Directionally – Personally, I vote direction. This helps me from getting caught up in personalities, propaganda, and pandering. What direction does the platform point the nation? Does it lead to righteousness, human flourishing, prosperity, and protection for the most vulnerable? What are the logical conclusions and moral outcomes of a candidate’s or party’s chosen platform and direction?

God’s Commands and Principles – For starters, one can use the Ten Commandments as a guide. Perhaps begin with what type of platform should we NOT vote for and move on from there.

Human Life – I’m not a single issue voter but I am a single issue voter in the first instance. If a politician or platform or party does not protect human life in the womb, I could care less about their great economic policies. It’s a matter of first principles. If they get human life wrong, God doesn’t care about their economic or foreign policy or tone.

Character – Remember, you are voting for sinners just like you. The problem we have when discerning the character of a candidate is the accuracy of our understanding. The media deliberately distorts our perception of how people really are. We are limited. This is where we need to pay attention to platform for the future and pray for discernment.

Purpose – Government is designed to restrain evil and promote good. That is its ultimate purpose. In America, we have checks and balances to restrain government from becoming evil and tyrannical. That is why it is important to understand the purpose of government and then vote purposefully.

Our conscience is a guard, not a guide.

In other words, our conscience is designed to alert us when we are tempted to sin or help convict us when we do sin. It is a guard and is not our authority. When we try to use our conscience as our guide in making decisions, we are actually listening to emotions. Emotions can lead us in the wrong direction. God’s Word is our guide. It is our authority.

What we believe about God, ourselves, others, and creation will shape our politics and how we vote.

Now, go vote biblically, soberly, thankfully, and righteously as if God is watching. Because He is.

Related:

iVoterGuide: https://ivoterguide.com/

My Posts on politics and culture:

https://revolutionofman.org/politics-is-downstream-from-culture/

https://revolutionofman.org/the-christians-role-culture-politics-and-government-part-two/

https://revolutionofman.org/should-the-church-get-involved-in-politics/

https://revolutionofman.org/christian-tradition-of-resistance-against-tyranny/

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Are your donations causing supply chain disruptions in neighborhood stores?

Are your donations causing supply chain disruptions in neighborhood stores?

Donations can cause supply chain disruptions in neighborhood stores

This is a situation where good intentions can unintentionally cause problems in a local community. What are the unintended consequences of an act of goodwill?

As a local community pastor, I probably receive 2-3 emails or calls per day from nonprofits and agencies asking for supply donations from folks in the community. These requests encompass everything from food, water, PPE, hand sanitizer, diapers, formula, TOILET PAPER, etc. I know many of you receive the same type of requests.

We all want to help! We all NEED to help in some way. However, we need to think through how to help the RIGHT way.

Under normal conditions (non-COVID-19), local stores and supermarkets are very well stocked with essential items. When you or I go to the store, we can buy as much as we need in the full knowledge that what we take off the shelf will be replaced within hours.

You’ve probably noticed the phrase ‘Supply Chain’ mentioned more and more by the media and government officials. The supply chain starts where a product is sourced like a farm or manufacturer. Those goods make their way to distribution centers and then onto the shelves of neighborhood stores where you and I can purchase them.

The COVID-19 Crisis changed everything.

COVID-19 created a panic, which caused people to purchase more essential items and thus putting stress on the supply chain.

What does all this have to do with nonprofits and agencies asking me and you to donate essential items?

Well, unless you and I have a surplus of essential items in our homes to donate, we typically go to our local store to purchase those items. Then we donate them to the organization that is requesting them. While the intention is good and noble, there are unintended consequences.

This can cause supply disruptions in neighborhood stores.

When I go to my local neighborhood store to buy additional items to donate to an agency in need, I am taking those essential items off the shelf at a time when supply chains are stretched thin. Restocking those items may take days rather than hours depending on the item and location of the store.

There are those in our neighborhoods who depend on the availability of essential items in local stores. The elderly couple on fixed income may be able to go to the store once per week to purchase essential items. If I purchase items before they do with the intent of donating them to another area of need in my community, I’ve unintentionally created a problem – a disruption for that elderly couple. They must go without or ask for help.

Again, we’re all trying to help. But we need to be thoughtful of how we help and source supplies in this current COVID-19 crisis because supply chains are crucial on a micro-level.

How can we help the right way? I have a couple ideas.

1. If you want to donate essential items, give from your stockpile first instead of going to your local store. Even a few cans of food, a box of formula, etc can go a long way to helping a family in need.

2. If you do purchase from a local store, limit your purchase to a couple items to donate. Make sure to leave something on the shelves for others in your community.

3. Call your local store manager and ask them when they restock and time your visit. Again, limit your purchases.

4. Instead of donating essential items, ask the nonprofit or agency if you can donate money. Encourage them to source their needs at the distributor level instead of the neighborhood level. Big box stores and grocers will often help nonprofits source much needed items.

5. Help your community nonprofits connect with larger nonprofits and community resources that have access to distributors higher up the supply chain. Organizations like the United Way, Salvation Army and local food banks have greater supply chain access. Collaboration is everything.  Help organizations work together to solve problems and ensure supplies get to the front lines the right way while preserving supplies in neighborhoods.

I hope this is helpful in helping you think through how we can avoid causing disruptions in local supply chains. Your elderly and immune-compromised neighbors with benefit from thoughtful giving.


Read previous post: A Church Without Walls – Serving Others
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What I learned about materialism from car tires

What I learned about materialism from car tires

A few years ago, Kathryn and I owned a beautiful SUV. It was truly a work of precision German engineering. It was the top of the line of ‘top-of-the-line’ SUVs containing all the ‘bells and whistles’ one could possibly imagine in a fine motor car. It was stunning and impressive. The darn thing was expensive. The warranty expired and we learned that maintenance was darn expensive as well. The ‘special’ run-flat tires could not be rotated. They had to be replaced (usually two at a time). The tires alone cost $650 each and had to be replaced about every 10,000-12,000 miles. Do the math. That’s $2600 per year in tires! As a special bonus, we had the privilege of replacing a cracked wheel at the low-low cost of $900. In one year, we spent over $3500 on tires and wheels. Oh yeah, did I tell you that it was beautiful, stunning and impressive?  You can learn something from car tires.

Materialism requires maintenance
Here’s the lesson that you should take away from my foolishness. If you place any of your personal self-worth on the stuff you buy, get ready to spin your wheels and work your arse off to maintain it. I don’t care if you have millions or billions, if you place your ANY of your self-worth on the stuff you can accumulate in life, you will live in a cycle of maintenance.  Take if from me, I’m a recovering materialist!

Everything we buy ends up in a trash heap somewhere. That expensive SUV we owned will eventually end up a rusted hunk of junk in a junk yard. That expensive home will eventually be torn down. All the stuff that we buy to impress others and/or make us feel better will eventually decay in some hole in the ground.

The material isn’t the problem, ‘Materialism’ is
Owning nice stuff is not the problem. The problem is when we tie our value to the stuff we own. When we love stuff and our capacity to attain more stuff more than we love God and people, we have exchanged that which is priceless for something with a price tag. Stuff can become an idol. Eventually, we run the risk of allowing that idol to rule over us and we eventually end up in bondage. The stuff owns us.

I’ve seen too many people end up with a pile of really expensive junk and massive bank accounts only to spend their last days completely alone in the pit of regret. They don’t even have anyone to share the regret with except those who they hire to maintain their stuff while they die alone.

You don’t have to get caught up in the nasty cycle of Materialism! Ponder this…

  • Order you life: Life is about relationships. Who would you trade all your stuff to save their life?
  • Motivation of the heart: Have you ever asked yourself ‘why’ before you buy?
  • Value: Do you attach personal value on things you buy? A little status, perhaps? Be honest.
  • Envy: When someone else buys something you desire to own, does it make you angry or bitter?
  • People: Who are the people you spend the most time with? Are they people who work for you?
  • Generosity: One cure for materialism is to give stuff away. Give something you love away (rinse and repeat)
  • Breaking the grip of Materialism: Read this post..
  • Cultivate Relationships: Seek time with God, family and friends.  This means reaping and sowing.  Do you invest in these three relationships? Are you generous with your time, talent and treasure?

What is true wealth?
“Add up everything you have that money can’t buy and death can’t take away.” -Pastor A. Rogers

Explore these passages.
“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” 1 Timothy 6:10

“Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”” Mark 12:17

“And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” Mark 10:21-22

Breaking the grip of materialism and status

Breaking the grip of materialism and status
When I was in college, I was preoccupied with stuff. In fact, I attended college to learn how to make money to get my hands on the best kind and most expensive stuff. I wanted the nicest cloths, cars, food, vacations and toys that money could buy. I wanted to make a lot of money, pursue pleasure and comfort. Note: There is nothing wrong with nice things, money or stuff. It all comes down to how I relate to stuff, the significance I place on it and where I derive my self-worth.
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Simple Living and Freedom, Baby!

NC-Fam
Are you an ‘all or nothing’ type? I am. My wife reminds me of this frequently. If I’m going to involve myself in a project, I’m 100% all in or I’m not going to participate. It’s the way I was created. I have found productive ways to leverage my addictive personality. Take triathlons for instance. I’m not content just dabbling in the sport, I must submerge myself in it totally.

As of late, I’m trying to learn to be content through simpler living in order to gain some margin in my life.

Five years ago, I looked around and we owned a bunch of ‘stuff’ and all that stuff cost money. Then I came to the realization that we did not own all this stuff, the stuff owned us. We were working to purchase and maintain expensive stuff. The amount of resources we were dumping into stuff was staggering. (more…)