Thursday, August 16, 2012

Politics as Idol

It’s been interesting of late to hear Christians’ perspective on how to engage in politics, or whether to do so at all. Naturally, this is a topic of interest with November only 3 months away. All I can say is that if politics replaces or takes up an inordinate amount of time away from God, then you’ve got yourselves an idol. And if how you behave when discussing politics does not pass muster with Scripture, you’ve got yourself rebellion from God. And if the words of your mouth and the motivations of your heart are not pleasing to God then the flesh is the aim of pleasure, not God.

All of these tests can be applied to any activity, thought-pattern or pastime. 2 Peter 2:19 says “for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him.” Another translation uses the word overcome. Whatever we allow to overcome us and lead us away from God and Christ-likeness is an idol.

Politics isn’t bad in and of itself. Many people are called to serve in the United States government as public officials. The Bible tells us to give to Caesar what is Caesars, and to pray for those in leadership over us. But is incessant watching of Fox News or MSNBC politics? Is bringing up YOUR point of view and forcing everyone to discuss it at family gatherings and at work politics? Or is that just feeding the fleshly need for drama and dissension and lifting one’s self up over those we perceive to be our opposition? 

Do “news” programs welcome, promote and celebrate working together? Not usually, but I currently wouldn’t know as I stopped watching news and television altogether a year ago (except the Green Bay Packers, or course). But when I was watching the news and justifying it as “staying informed,” what really happened was that the media talking heads fired me up to a ludicrous obsession with how right I was and how wrong others were. I wasn’t getting both sides of any story, and the purpose of all of it, it seems, was to be right, not “informed.” 

God convicted me that my attitude and behavior wasn’t Biblical, not to mention that I didn’t even like who I was becoming. “Politics” had definitely set roots as an idol and its tentacles were choking me off from God’s path.

To discern one’s spiritual health regarding politics, we can ask ourselves a couple of questions: 
1). How much time do I spend watching, listening to and discussing news programs on TV and radio vs. reading the Bible, praying and investing in a ministry?
2). Do I hear, listen to and consider other points of view, or do I presumptively lambast those who identify with an opposing party?
3.) Do I become more--or less--Christ-like when I discuss politics? Is my motivation to glorify God as I “engage” in politics, or to promote me and my point of view? We ought be careful about justifying politics as a wholesome duty of staying informed if, in actuality, our engagement is feeding an inner lust for antagonism.

As Christians, we have put on the new person that we are in Christ. “So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view” (2 Corinthians 5:16). We are not to live as “enemies of the Cross of Christ” by focusing our minds on earthly things in an earthly manner (Philippians 3:18, 19). In John 15:19 Jesus tells us that we do not belong to the world; He has chosen us out of the world. We belong to Christ, and our true citizenship is in Heaven. So let us run--in this world--the race before us as citizens of Heaven, and find victorious Christian living there.

“Avoid Godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly.” 2 Timothy 2:16

“Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.” 2 Timothy 2:23-24

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ…to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ,…” Ephesians 1:3, 5

“But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own…” Philippians 3:7-9

“But our citizenship is in heaven.” Philippians 3:20

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