The Church, Politics,
and Social Concerns

 

Many denominations believe and many evangelize the idea that Christians should be active in or supportive of political and social movements.  We do not believe that this is the tenor of Scripture on the matter.

 

It is natural that anyone who loves righteousness and justice would want to be active in its support.  To love righteousness and to hate iniquity are qualities found in our Lord, Jesus, and mandatory also in his saints. (Hebrews 1:9)  But the Scriptural injunction is that, at this present time, the bride class makes herself ready (Revelation 19:7) so that she can reign with her Lord to bring about a new world “wherein dwelleth righteousness.” (II Peter 3:13; Revelation 5:10)  The church knows full well that this “present evil world” (Galatians 1:4) is under the domination of Satan (II Corinthians 4:4) and that he later must be bound (Revelation 20:1-3; Isaiah 35:8, 9) so that reform can take place.  Reform now is for Christians within themselves.  Reform for the world and its ways must await the 1000-year Kingdom of Christ over the earth when he will put down all contrary authority and enemies of righteousness.  (I Corinthians 15:24-28)  Forcing the jewels of righteousness and justice now before those who cannot appreciate them,  only will result in violent reactions.  (Matthew 7:6)  We MUST be examples; but we are not now to be correctors

 

We do not wish to criticize those who are active in reforms or whose righteous souls are vexed every day be wickedness around them.  We merely wish to point out that repairing the world now is not the commission given to Christ’s Church.  We are, indeed, to “do good unto all men as we have the opportunity”—but even this noble admonition suggests that this good be done “especially to the household of faith.”  (Galatians 6:10)  The work of perfecting society is, on the other hand, our vision for the future, our commission once we are faithful and are glorified with our Lord.  According to Paul, it is to raise the dead and bless them for which we have been baptized and for which reason we willingly suffer the perils of the true Christian way.  (I Corinthians 15:29, 30)  When we pray “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth,” (Matthew 6:10) we are praying for the PROPER time to correct the evils which politics or social misbehavior have wrought.

 

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The Scriptures are replete with entries showing the propriety of the Christian’s remaining separate from the affairs of this life while yet fulfilling appropriate responsibilities to the societies in which he lives.  Consider, for instance, Jesus’ lesson (Matthew 22:15-22) about the correctness of paying taxes.  Consider how Paul admonishes (I Timothy 2:1-6) not that we try to correct government, but that we pray for those in power that their attempts at governing might give us as much opportunity as possible to lead “quiet and peaceable” lives as we pursue our faith.  He points out that the salvation of others will come “in due time” (during Christ’s Kingdom).

 

Certainly righteous people everywhere, and especially Christians, hate the concept of slavery.  Yet, consider how Paul (I Timothy 6:1-3) does not admonish working for its abolition.  Instead, he counsels Christian slaves to be faithful in their duties, and Christian masters to be wise in their stewardship over others.  Such counsel would today reap the howls of reformers!  But Paul simply acknowledges that a Christian’s place is not to change the world now, but to use its circumstances to become more Christ-like.  The Kingdom will cure the ills of man’s inhumanity.

 

This peaceable, non-involved attitude of Christians also has manifested itself in a traditional (though often rebuked) position of Christians to be pacifists.  Jesus’ words in John 18:36 form one of the Biblical bases for Christian conscientious objection to participating in militarism.

 

Throughout church history, according to Scripture, there has been a counterfeit Christian movement.  Jesus characterized these false disciples as “tares.” (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43)  Paul called them a “falling away” or apostasy.   (II Thessalonians 2:3, 4)   The Revelator records them as “fornicators”—a Scriptural symbol for nominal disciples who have illicit connection with the world and its ways.  (Revelation 18:3)  It is the spirit of this tare class of Christians to use carnal weaponry and worldly tactics to try to change things to their liking.  (II Corinthians 10:3, 4)  Christians do wage war, but it is against the worldliness in themselves, not against others who believe and act differently from themselves.  (I Timothy 1:18, 19)  Thus, as Peter says, (I Peter 2:11) we are pilgrims and strangers to the world and its ways, not here to change them, but to overcome their influences in us.  Jesus, himself, healed others of what his kingdom would do and to help identify himself to those who would be his disciples.  Yet how he must have struggled within not to heal all or to correct all of the ills about him!  He very well knew that, until his Kingdom, the poor always would be with us, indeed.  But we must, as Mary did, use our “alabaster box” of good to strengthen the disciples rather than to heal the world.  (Matthew 26:6-13)  Jesus felt so strongly about this that he requested that Mary’s “waste” of valuables on him be preached along with the Gospel itself.

 

God has arranged (I Corinthians 1:19-21, 25-29) that Christians look foolish in this world.  He has allowed this world’s “wisdom” to have its day.  By it, the world has not known God or His ways.  But His great wisdom will take Christians, now viewed as weak and foolish, and, having transformed them (Romans 12:1, 2), will exalt them to rule in righteousness.   Meanwhile, we have our faith to ourselves (Romans 14:22), not forcing it upon others.

It is likely that sincere Christian people have succumbed to the temptations of involvement in governmental and social reforms because they have FORGOTTEN about the kingdom, its objectives, and its nearness.  We would feel far less need to correct others now if we remembered and believed that Christ will do it all soon—and far better than we could ever hope to accomplish.  He as asked us now to witness to those things rather than to do them!  (Matthew 24:14)  He doesn’t expect that this witness will convert the world.  (Matthew 13:11-16)  He only expects that it will draw to him those who will become members of his “body.”

Meanwhile, as James prophesies (James 5:1-8), the world is rushing headlong to its own selfish destruction while the Lord hears (but still waits to answer) the cries of the downtrodden.  Christians, awaiting the resultant blessings, are told to “Be patient therefore, brethren…establish your hearts.”

 

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