It’s no coincidence that my friends are sounding a lot like the prophet Habakkuk. The seventh century BC prophet was deeply grieved by the religious apostasy and moral degradation of God’s chosen people in his day. God’s answer was a paradigm-exploding surprise for this “other” (other than Jeremiah, that is) weeping prophet.
I’ll address that astonishing answer from God next week, but today I’d like to tackle the longing, addressed above, for seeing God work in our time.
By way of review, here are the propositions which I’ve shared in Churches And Politics: Rethinking The Issue, Churches And Politics: Rethinking The Issue, Part Two, Churches And Politics: Rethinking The Issue, Part Three and Churches And Politics: Part Four – Realistic Expectations.
- Humility is still in order.
- Consistent Bible interpretation, painstaking exegesis and careful exposition will still keep us out of a lot of trouble.
- The Bible is clear on the basic purposes for human government.
- Some forms of human government are more consistent with Biblical theology than others.
- Some norms for government are strong and clear in Scripture.
- It is folly to ally ourselves with political personalities, movements and parties.
- We must not shrink back from taking clear positions on Biblical/moral/ethical issues which have become political issues.
- Involvement in government is, and has always been, a legitimate way to serve God and humanity.
- Representing Christ well, whether we are voting, protesting, writing letters, running for office or talking politics over Thanksgiving dinner with our relatives, has always been an imperative.
- Expectations for human government should be realistic and Biblically informed.
Here’s my eleventh and last proposition of the series:
(11) We can see God working powerfully if we will join Him in His work.
Quite simply, the great and wondrous work of God in this era in which we are living, which He has graciously called us to join Him in, is the work of building His kingdom by building the Church by making disciples (Matthew 28:16-20; Acts 1:8).
There’s a reason why we call it the Great Commission. It’s not only great quantitatively – getting the message to every person on the planet – it’s great qualitatively as well. It has always been and still is an awesome privilege to be God’s instruments in His grand design of completing the Church, the Bride of Christ, in preparation for Christ’s glorious return (Romans 11:25-27, Romans 15:14-21).
And it is a supremely awesome miracle that flawed Christ-followers can, awkwardly, bumblingly share the simple message of the gospel and see God respond by powerfully transforming some of the persons who have given us a hearing.
This is not the only work that God is engaged in today, but it is the work that He has called us to join Him in. Think about it:
- There’s nothing in the New Testament about how we’re supposed to transform human government. Influence it for good? Yes – Matthew 5:13-16. Transform it into something “Christian”? No – There’s no vision for that in the New Testament.
- Neither is there, in the New Testament, anything about transforming our communities as the goal of our local church ministries. It’s wonderful when the gospel advances to such a degree that the community is changed, as in Acts nineteen, but that is not a goal nor an expectation which God has set before us.
- Another important work which God is doing in the world is that of judgment – see this space next week – but that, fortunately, is not a work which God has invited us to participate in.
“Saving America” so we can continue to preach the gospel freely is a Biblical ideal – see I Timothy 2:1-7 – but it’s not a Biblical imperative. Historically, some would argue that the Church is at its best during times of persecution.
And God is still at work in the USA! Christians and churches which join Him in His work, endeavoring to make their churches inwardly strong (by God’s grace!) and outwardly focused (by God’s grace!) are experiencing the joy of seeing God work, in America, in 2022.
Churches which are so inwardly focused as to see their congregations as existing for their own pleasure – and this, sadly, is the norm – will continue to plaintively look for God to do something in our day, meaning, change the culture back to what it was in 1960. Only a heaven-sent revival could make this happen, even temporarily.
God’s people, in many nations, over two thousand years, have often had to live for Christ in the midst of dying, apostasying, morally bankrupt cultures. They have glorified God and made disciples under difficult conditions, and we can do the same.
Twelve Suggested Resolutions For Your Church
(1) We will always stand on and for the clear teachings of the Bible as they relate to matters of politics and government (II Timothy 4:1-5).
(2) We will be humble and gracious as we share our opinions regarding politics and government (Romans 14:1-15:7, II Timothy 2:14,24).
(3) We will seek to impact our local communities, our state and our nation for good, by voting for the best candidates possible, informing each other regarding current issues, supporting good candidates who run for office, and encouraging elected and unelected government officials to maintain and uphold Biblical standards of conduct (Matthew 5:13-16, I Timothy 2:1-7).
(4) We will not, however, – as a church – endorse political candidates or political parties.
(5) We will give both elected and unelected government servants the honor which is their due, submitting to the laws of the land to as great an extent as obedience to God allows (Romans 13).
(6) We will speak respectfully of our leaders, judging their actions and motives with the same grace and consideration which we would want for ourselves (Matthew 7:12, Acts 23:5, I Peter 2:17).
(7) We will live with Biblically-informed expectations for elected and unelected government servants, expecting lost, deluded, blind, misled persons to act like the victims of our ultimate enemy, the Devil, which Scripture says they are (Matthew 9:36, John 8:12-58, Romans 3:9-20, Ephesians 2:1-3).
(8) While grieved by all that we see which grieves God, we will nevertheless seek to live our lives with gospel joy, hope and love, rather than the outrage and pessimism which can so easily overtake our hearts (II Corinthians 2:14, Matthew 5:43-48).
(9) In the midst of a declining culture, we will focus on the great mission which God has for His people in this day, the work of building His Kingdom by building the Church by making disciples of Jesus Christ (Matthew 16:18, Matthew 28:16-20).
(10) While not focusing on the transformation of our communities, we will seek to become a congregation which is so powerfully blessed by God that our communities are in fact impacted and changed for the better (Matthew 5:13-16, Acts 19:17-20).
(11) We will remember that winning friends and loved ones to faith in Christ is infinitely more important than winning arguments about politics (II Timothy 2:14-26).
(12) While maintaining our own opinions about politics and government, we will always seek to be a congregation which offers a Spirit-empowered, warm and sincere welcome to all who visit our worship services or other events (Luke 15:11-32).