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How to Change America - Christian Leaders and Political Involvement
The most effective way to transform America is by being Christ to those around you, wherever he may place you. Jesus said: “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father” (John 14:12, NIV).
Together, as the body of Christ, we can transform our culture by doing just that. Just as performing miracles was a sign of Jesus’ lordship, we are called to do the same; healing the sick, exorcising demons, raising the dead, and restoring creation to the likeness of God. We must be sensitive to the Spirit moving through us, so we may obey and declare Jesus’ continuing lordship over the earth and everything in it. As Walsh and Middleton reiterate in their book, The Transforming Vision, “…we as Christians must seek to understand cultural phenomena and to bring them under the lordship of Christ” (Middleton, 1984, p90).
Since God has created everything, it follows that He has created politics, but His politics involve His kingdom where He is the ruling, eternal King. David praises God in Psalm 145:1 saying “I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name forever and ever” (NIV).
Since everything is fallen, politics have been skewed into our own creation. We desire an earthly ruler rather than God. Walsh and Middleton point out that “[the] significance of the Fall is that humankind gave allegiance to another king, resulting in covenantal disobedience to God’s laws” (Middleton, 1984, p79).
We too often look to other lords, whether it is pledging allegiance to the flag, to a philosophy of life, or to the prince of darkness himself. From the beginning, God desired the Israelites, his chosen people, to have no king but Him. Instead, He says in 1 Samuel 8:7 that “they have rejected me as their king”.
It is not to say that God didn't reap good out of the Israelites’ sinful desire to have a king. He did in fact use King David in the lineage of Jesus. It is wrong, however, to look to find prosperity in our president, rather than in our LORD.
The most effective way to change this culture for Christ isn't to be involved in politics. “[The] early Christians,” as Shane Claiborne explains “weren’t trying to overthrow or even reform the empire, but they also weren’t going along with it. They were not reformists offering the world a better Rome. They offered the dissatisfied masses not a better government, but another world altogether” (Claiborne, 2008, p168).
Just because God establishes all authority does not mean that He condones it. It just means that God is ABOVE and SOVEREIGN over all authority. “For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods” (Psalm 95:3, NIV). We are called to SUBMIT to the authorities (1 Peter 2:13), and make ourselves “under their order,” not to necessarily OBEY them, and bend our will, or even be a part of them (Claiborne, 2008, p343).
Instead, we can look at the witness of Christ standing before the temple courts to see what it means to change the world through subordination. “He understood the powers as fallen but lovingly navigated through their hands, speaking truth that their power had blinded them to. To overcome evil, he would not resist it but suffered and absorbed it” (Claiborne, 2008, p344).
Therefore, as we live daily to overcome evil in our world, allowing the Spirit to move us, we are not called to combatively fight back and get involved in the harsh world of politics in order to change our world. Instead, we are to reveal and restore HIS kingdom on earth and are called to live humble, subordinating, Christ like lives and “if someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also” (Luke 6:29, NIV).
Works Cited and Additional Readings
Claiborne, Shane & Chris Haw. (2008). Jesus for President. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
Middleton, J. Richard & Brian J. Walsh. (1984). The Transforming Vision. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
Wolters, Albert M. (2005). Creation Regained. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.