“But thank God, who is always leading us around through Christ as if we were in a parade. He releases the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere through us.” —2 Corinthians 2:14 (CEB)
I have to admit, I tried to be optimistic that I would be able to stop alluding and directly addressing US politics after the election. Bluntly, it gets rather tiring. However, as I see my brothers and sisters in Christ responding to the world, it may well be that politics is the greatest worldly vice that the church needs to confront. As a pastor, I cannot help but believe that addressing church politics may be a call for a while.
Much of the reason is that the church is hurting. As much as certain people would like to blame the current president for the situation, that is really denying reality. The blessing (yes, blessing) of the current (yes, soon to be former) president’s time in office is that the church, in particular the white evangelical brand, has had to confront how much it has been in the pocket of politics.
What has followed quickly behind, is the awareness that the so-called liberal (not sure the label applies) “side” of the church (universal) is equally in the pocket of politics, just a different side’s. We, as the church, need to confess that we are in bondage to sin…political power.
The Corinthians have been turning away (or withdrawing their affection) from Paul, as local influencers are successfully convincing them that Paul is a sham. Who these influencers are exactly is open to interpretation, but much of the challenge is due to the apparent difference in Paul’s tone and “presence” when he is away versus when he is physically present. Paul calls out the Corinthian church for being “yoked” to these unbelievers, rather than Jesus Christ.
To be clear, I follow many Christians on both “sides” (which in and of itself is a sad witness of the church) of politics. The general lack of grace given to Christians and leaders of opposing political views breaks the heart of God. Whether we’re talking about splinters and logs (Matthew 7:2–4), abortion, the death penalty, homelessness, unemployment, COVID, we are called to love one another…ESPECIALLY our brothers and sisters in Christ.
In a republic, but even in a dictatorship, the church should use what influence it has to make the world look just a little bit more like the Kingdom of God. That can be a tall order. The world, however, has been successful in turning the Church into a loyal voting block rather than a prophetic witness against the ills of the world.
Being “unequally” yoked is an odd turn of phrase in this context. Yet, it is due to one thing…the world’s power is not the Church’s. The Church’s powers are not the world’s. The world seems to know that its power is not the same, so tries to convince the Church that the world’s power is the best way to “reach” the world. The truth? The Church cannot successfully wield the world’s power and remain the Church.
Paul’s admonition to the Church of Corinth is regarding the church allowing unbelievers to tell the church how to treat and behave toward fellow believers. That admonition stands today.
- What do politics and politicians tempt you (personally) with? How might that interfere with Jesus’ call on your life?
- As harsh as it sounds, why might political power be a sin? How might it not be?
- As Christians, we are called to God’s Kingdom. As earthly citizens, we are called to exercise our right/responsibility to vote. How do we balance the 2 powers, and be faithful to being salt and light?
Lord, forgive us. Help us have the patience, endurance, love, and grace to be healers of our homes. Amen.