Taking a break from our ongoing discussion of the first principles of government, I wanted to reflect on the goals that we should have as the citizens, and more specifically the church, within this nation.
Regardless of your politics, it is important to recognize this truth: no earthly government will solve all of your problems. Conservatives like myself often take this to justify our argument that, in fact, no government will solve even most of our problems, and therefore we’re better of with less government. Liberals maintain that, while our government is flawed, it is a powerful tool and might as well be usefully employed; therefore, we should use it as effectively as possible. However, we will both agree that a necessary component towards seeing the government accomplish our goals is our own involvement.
We have a role to play in our nation; the question is, what?
Conservative Christians in America today often get labeled as being fans of Armageddon; as if we are rooting for the end of the world in war and pain. Unfortunately, I cannot deny that there are voices in the church that do seem to call out for the total destruction of our nation and the world, justifying this postion with the argument that such a cataclysm will bring on the Kingdom of God. This stance puzzles and frightens those not in the church (and some within the church, to be honest); how can any group of people claim to love their neighbors, while cheering on the brutal end of the world?
I am not going to get into a eschatological debate here (as if defining and arguing about government weren’t difficult enough!) but the way we think about how this world will end does seem to color the way we live in it. The majority of the church in America is in danger, it seems to me, of living as if tomorrow will be the last day, so we need not care how we live today. This may be true in many areas, but in the realm of our civic duties it seems particularly prevalent.
Our stated goal is often to merely save souls, rather than to redeem our culture. I have recently begun to think that we cannot be effective at one if we do not participate in the other.
Perhaps I sound like an alarmist. We live in the United States of America, and regardless of the different surveys that Newsweek or Gallop or CNN take, for the most part this nation identifies itself as a Christian, religious nation. What’s the worry, right?
On the other hand, much that was once the natural province of the church has been ceded to the realm of social justice. Whereas in ages past the church was the forefront of education & charity, and would be one of the natural counsellors to those in power, today more and more the state and secular institutions are the sole providers of education & charity, and there are increased efforts to prevent any trappings of Christianity from being present in the government, or encouraged in the main-stream of the culture.
We should not be shocked that we are opposed when it comes to influencing the powerful; even if we were a neutral voice, those positions of influence are few and are always up from grabs. Everyone wants their voice to be heard; when we fail to be convincing and impact our community, we can hardly expect to keep the same ammount of influence on the affairs of state. Compound that with the fact that Christianity is not a morally ambivalent system of belief, and should result in a change to business as usual, which will naturally prompt opponents to actively seek to undermine us…can we really be surprised that we’re opposed in government at times? Weren’t we assured of that very thing? The opposition we face reflects the stakes; we fight for the soul of our nation, and it is actually our task as American Christians to work to see the nation redeemed and restored. No one party has the monopoly on the solution; I have my preferences and arguments in favor of one over the other, but we should not limit ourselves to the same party politics that the secularists around us promote. Our goal is more than any one politician’s agenda or political party’s platform. Our goal is to see the Kingdom of God on earth.
Now…I am not a utopian, and I have no delusions that we can make the world perfect. My argument is simply this; we, the Church of Christ, have this commission: to go and make disciples of all men. Our primary interaction with our fellow man is through our own community, our neighborhoods, our governments, local and federal. If you read this blog, I’d assume that government is something you enjoy thinking and talking about; I’d encourage you to reflect further on how the interactions you have with your community further the cause of Christ in our Nation. Remember that a culture saturated with Christians who live lives aimed at establishing Christendom cannot remain secular for long.
Good Christians are the foremost patriots; not because our state is the same as the church, but because the Church intends to change the nature of the state.