By now, the disgraceful attempted insurrection at the US Capital needs no introduction. The events of that day reverberated around the world and shook the most stout-hearted believer in Western democracy.
By the time this article is published, it’s likely that much more chaos, bloodshed, and futile-fury will have been unleashed across America.
Much has already been blamed on ‘why’ these events took place. Each purported cause may have played some part, but it’s easy to see how religious-political fervour played its own role in this ‘insurrection-infection.’ And the ‘Jesus Saves’ banners which flew alongside the mob Capital rioters on that infamous day aren’t the only telling-indication why.
Our own childhoods and the school-playground fight shows that all wars result from not getting what we want. The social and news-media furore surrounding the last four-year Trump presidency has been prime example. The resultant stigma of an absolutist ‘for-or-against’ Trumpism has become larger than politics; now it’s a symbol of how we view each other.
And the problem isn’t just America’s. Nations all around the world now associate our political affiliation as a mirror-image reflection of our character, lifestyle, intelligence, relational-capability, and overall ‘personhood’. Politics has almost become as inescapable as our nationality.
Seemingly frightened by this new reality, former US Secretary of State Colin Powell the former recently revealed that he no longer thinks of himself as a Republican or Democrat. Now he sees himself as just a citizen.
It’s not difficult to see how Powell reached his decision; these days political values are either demonised or made sacred. Fox News and CNN are prime examples of this reality, with neither they or their audiences ever having much (if anything) bad to say about the opposite side of their almost hysterical ‘for or against’ Trumpism. Subsequently, any association with a political party or figure makes one a ‘demon’ or a ‘saint’ in the eyes of others.
Earthly or Heavenly Kingdom?
Even Christians (myself included at times) have even gotten sucked down this angry-absolutist black hole. Now man’s kingdom is associated with Jesus’ kingdom. Now man’s ruler is God’s man, and his politics is Jesus’ rule and way. But nothing could be further from the truth, and not just because God never called his people to a life of religious-political faith.
When Jesus came to Earth, he didn’t call his disciples to change the political landscape and governments of their world or to rail against injustice. Instead, he called them to be ‘fishers of men’ (Matthew 4:19). What this looked like is seen in the book of Acts when the church was first established in the world.
From the time God came to work in and through the New Testament disciples at Pentecost, the early church went far and wide to share the gospel, look after those in need, and be a sorely-needed healing balm to a hurting and sick world.
Important things first
It’s true that repentance from wickedness and faith towards God were keys to this calling, but only ever for the spiritual and moral personal life, not for a political crusade, and certainly never to live an ‘insurrection-infection’ life. Christians were never called to come against others, but instead to love them, even their enemies and those who mistreat or vehemently disagree with them.
If ever there was a time for God to work through his apostles and disciples for politics, it would have been then. In their day the Jewish nation was being oppressed by the ruling Roman world, and initially the disciples thought Jesus had come to restore their fortunes.
In response, Jesus said it wasn’t for them to know ‘when’ God would deal with the governments of the world or restore their personal fortunes and the nationalism of their own country. Instead, they would receive ‘power’ to spread the Good News of who Jesus was and the spiritual salvation he had won for the world. In essence Jesus was saying, “Make that your focus while on Earth. Leave your national interest and the governments of the world to me when I return to rule, reign, and set everything aright on the earth.”
Gospel-influence is God’s politics
Don’t get me wrong. Common sense and Scripture also show that we’re to influence the world for good. And it’s not wrong to be outraged and grieved at the injustices in the world. But holy outrage in Jesus’ kingdom must manifest itself as fervent and self-sacrificial love; a love which also allows the world to choose the wrong way if it wants. Even Jesus didn’t force mankind to follow the ways of His Spiritual kingdom while on Earth, and neither must we.
One day the kingdoms of the world will be the kingdoms of God, but not in the present age. If so, Jesus would already be ruling on a visible physical throne in a perfect nation. But He’s not doing that in America, Australia, or anywhere else on Earth, because His current kingdom here is spiritual. The current kingdom also isn’t political, it’s gospel, and mirrors Jesus’ life, character and heart.
We live in days of near-hysterical political fervour which encourages Christians to take sides and rise up in ideological-insurrection; pinning our colours to an ultimately human and failing world. But just as politics created imperfect kingdom in Jesus’ day, so it’s doing in ours.
No enduring answers lie in earthly politics because we’re all imperfect humans. The only enduring answer lies in God’s perfection and Kingdom. And if we pin our colours to His spiritual mast in our day, we’ll get to enjoy His physical perfect kingdom in His Day when he comes to rule and reign forever.
Tim is a high school teacher in Queensland and just finished a season being a youth pastor in America. He has a passion for the gospel and for seeing lives changed by the power, person and love of Jesus Christ.
Tim Price’s previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/tim-price.html