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Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. -- Matthew 12: 30 (ESV)
It's the silly season again in America. Election 2016 is upon us and as usual those that claim leadership in the church are losing their collective minds. They are abandoning the Gospel in pursuit of idolizing the country we live in. Perhaps they do so unconsciously. That matters not to God. It is stunningly sad to see Christians everywhere leave common sense behind in chasing their political goals while pretending that God somehow approves of them defending what they have deemed as "less evil" in their own eyes and through their own wicked hearts. To accomplish this there are plots and schemes dressed up in Christianese to sucker Christians into voting for someone they are selling as "God's choice." One such tactic which is common is the "Christian Voting Guide" strategy where candidates are compared on the basis of a pre-selected traits and or positions that have an air of Christian values while ignoring others that do not support the candidate they are trying to sell. For example, in the late 1990's all Christians cared about was character. The sexual foibles of President Clinton were offered up as a disqualifying factor for Christians by leadership. "Character counts" was all that was heard. Fast forward twenty short years and suddenly character appears to not even be considered because the candidates involved do not fit that narrative well at all. We always hear the mantra however of trying to figure out which of the candidates is somehow closest to "Christian values"; with wedge issues offered up as the determining factor, while ignoring glaring Christian problems with the candidate of their choice. Remember, the purpose of these guides is not to support Christ but rather to dress evil up as good for the sole purpose of co-opting your vote. So, in response, it has been suggested to me to create what a real Biblical voting guide would look like.
Plank Number One -- Render Unto Caesar -- This line of course is what Jesus says when asked about paying taxes to Rome. There is a deeper application Jesus was trying to teach however. The disciples were all convinced that Jesus was the Messiah but they were expecting Him to deliver them from earthly oppression of the Roman occupation of their people. Jesus had a much larger mission of course in delivering mankind from the oppression of sin and reconciling them to their Creator. Yet as we continue to read the Gospel accounts this is continually missed by the disciples right up until the Day of Pentecost even. They constantly mixed up their carnal, earthly desires and goals with their eternal, spiritual ones. Past is prologue beloved as the modern church continues along this same path.
What was the attitude of Jesus Christ when He walked this earth towards the things of this earth? Towards the governments of man? Towards the politics of humanity versus the realities of the Kingdom? Total and utter apathy. He could care less beloved. You want the Temple tax? Go catch a fish! While you are worrying about the oppression from the hands of Rome, you miss the oppression the devil has you under and his is a yoke that will have eternal consequences. Do not worry what man can do to you! Worry about your eternal soul! Plank number one in the platform of a true Christian voting guide is to not mix the holy with the profane. America is not a theocracy and it never has been. It is and always has been a pagan nation. Was it once "more Christian?" I suppose but that does not mean it was under covenant with God. It does not mean that if we can just return to some version of the late 1800s that then God would stay His coming judgment.
This false belief system stems from very poor false teaching that has pervaded much of modern Christianity in this country. It is jingoism and idolatry of this country over our Biblical understanding that our citizenship is now in heaven. Like Lot before us, we pitch our tents before Sodom and before we know it we are living in it. And we like it. We like the sin and excess of this country. We like the 50 choices of luxury automobiles and the 100 choices of breakfast cereals. We revel in the culture, while pretending to rail against it. God weeps when He sees the starvation across this small planet and people called by His name who turn a blind eye towards it while spending five bucks on their morning latte. This false teaching is central to the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) and a slew of churches across the landscape. The beliefs of the NAR focus on what is known as the "Seven Mountain Mandate." This teaching says that Christians must take over the seven cultural mountains in this world before Jesus can return. That He literally cannot return until we conquer these mountains, such as media, government, and entertainment. This is why you see so many Christian leaders obsessed with inserting Christianity into the political realm. So much so that in the previous election they were willing to pretend that the Mormon candidate was somehow "Christian." This is why you see so many in Christian leadership pushing Christian themes in movies and television, regardless of how horrific the doctrine is. The AD Miniseries was one of the worst Biblical accounts ever but look at how the Christians organizations lined to lap it up. There is no "revival" coming to America because that implies that it was once alive. This is plank number one because it is foundational. We must understand that as Christians we are sojourners and pilgrims in this country. We understand that the unsaved want to talk about how the candidates will improve their lives in Sodom as much as the disciples wanted to be constantly focused on deliverance from Rome. Jesus had a different focus and so should we.
Plank Number Two -- Voting is a Secular Responsibility, not a Christian Imperative. Once you understand the foundational issue, the others become clearer and easier to grasp. I have heard Christians espouse the notion that supporting candidates that support one wedge issue or another will be judged by God. How ridiculously absurd. There is no transference of sin. Can you imagine if we had to stand before Christ and answer for other people's sins as well as our own? For everyone we supported in our life that was a sinner or did something wrong? We have enough to worry about with our own sin beloved. We also will not be judged on voting. As if when we stand before Christ He will say, "Well, I would like to let you in but c'mon! Clinton in 96?" We need to get a check on our theology because it gets wackier and wackier when we are trying to advocate for evil as good. It is this type of false thinking that also leads to Christian Electoral Myopia. This is when Christians think they cannot vote for a given candidate because they support one position we have decided is the only thing we will look at. When we do that, we refuse to look at the myriad of other issues we just voted for in the name of Jesus. We vote for war and poverty even though the number one Biblical topic in the Bible after salvation is taking care of the least in society.
A myopic Christian is easily influenced. Just trot out a candidate who swears they will do something about their issue and you have them hooked. George W. Bush co-opted plenty of Christian votes during his two campaigns. Many of them voted solely for the pro-life issue yet what did he do with complete control of both houses of Congress as president? Nothing. He never even brought it up. But he did support frivolous wars that resulted in the deaths of over 250,000 people, not including our own troops. Those people mattered to God. I know we have been conditioned to think God only blesses America but that is simply more of the idolatry spoken about earlier. When Jesus is told His mother and brothers are waiting to see Him He says who are His mother and brother except them who does the will of my Father. Beloved the Christian family we have goes far beyond our borders. The mission field goes far beyond this country. It is a tremendous privilege to be able to vote since so many countries do not allow it at all but never confuse that privilege with your faith. God does not care who we think makes the next best king of Sodom. We have no Christian or Biblical imperative to influence society through the carnal voting process. We have not been instructed to revive this country, take over any mountains, or institute a theocratic form of government. Jesus commissioned us to make disciples not to forcibly convert unbelievers. This isn't the Crusades. So then think for a moment what we are essentially trying to do by legislating our faith over people who think the things of God are utter foolishness. We for some reason believe that if we can just change the behaviors of the unsaved that we have accomplished something for the kingdom, but have we? If we convince an unbeliever to not commit a sin, have we changed their eternal destination? No we have not. That is because we are dealing with the symptom rather than the problem. We are not sinners because we sin beloved. We sin because we are sinners. That is what needs to be explained properly if we expect there to be any change in behavior. We need to see sin differently, turn from it, and repent. That does not happen by changing laws but only through the third and central plank in our Christian Voting Guide.
Plank Number Three -- It's The Gospel Stupid. This is a take-off from the campaign slogan Bill Clinton used in 1992, which said it was the economy stupid. Sometimes we get so clever in our carnal thinking that we forget that the only thing that should matter to us as Christians is the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the salvation of the lost. Not rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. While the church is striving to be relevant to a godless culture, we miss the truth, which is this:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. -- Romans 1: 16 (ESV)
Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? -- 2Corinthians 6: 14-15 (ESV)
You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. -- Matthew 5: 14 (ESV)
Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. -- 1Peter 2: 11-12 (ESV)
This is just a small handful of verses beloved. The entire Bible lays this out for us if we would put aside our carnal politics and be willing to see it. The first verse clearly explains that only the Gospel has the power to save anyone. Not your pastor. Not your congressman. Not your chosen candidate. Not your favorite legislative wish. The second set of verses clearly shows we are not to have partnership with darkness. That is not our role beloved. We are not supposed to meet them where they are at. We are not supposed to make the Gospel relevant to them somehow on a carnal level. The third verse shows what we are supposed to do. We are supposed to shine beloved! Not with scathing critiques of the self perceived greater evil. Not with judgments about sin for unbelievers. 1Corinthians 5 clearly teaches us that God judges those outside the church. We become the shining city on a hill be showing the world that we are above the petty politicking they are drowning in every day. That we serve a God who will use whoever is elected. Instead what do they see? Rampant and blatant unbelief in the God we claim to serve. You heard me right. How many Christians have been absolutely apocalyptic in their pushing of one candidate over another this year? As if the world hinged in the balance. As if God could not handle if their candidate was not elected. How do you think that is perceived by the world? The things of God may be foolishness to them but utter carnal fear is not lost on them at all. Then they see Christians lie on behalf of their candidate. Bear blatant false witness against their chosen opponent and here is a wakeup call beloved. Posting what someone else said without bothering to check if it is true is also lying. It is also bearing false witness. God does not need us to lie for Him. He does not ascribe to Machiavellian beliefs of the ends justifying the means. Here is something unsettling to consider as well. Our assumptions of the lesser evil are merely our assumptions. They may not even be accurate. That is why we focus on the one thing that never changes and we know is absolute truth -- the Gospel. By doing so we will stand out in a world full of chaos. We will be the calm. We will be like a city shining on a hill. The last set of verses here reminds us of a few realities of being a Christian. First of all we are exiles in this land. We act too often as full-fledged residents when our citizenship is supposed to be in heaven. When we see choices like we have this year we should weep over this country as Jesus wept once over Jerusalem. Not because of politics but because they are like sheep without a shepherd. We are supposed to keep our conduct among the unbelievers honorable. Did we get that? Honorable. Not posting ridiculous memes or tweeting long debunked lies. This leads us to the fourth plank in a truly Biblical Voting Guide.
Plank Number Four -- The Witness Protection Program -- There is a reason why that verse says to remain honorable among the unbelievers. It is the same reason why the Bible says we ought to be redeeming the time with unbelievers. Beloved, we have a witness for Jesus Christ, whether we like it or not. We can choose to never evangelize anyone and our lives still bear witness. Remember, all lives bear a witness. That is what Jesus is saying in our key verse. There is no third option. What we do and say will either gather people to Jesus or scatter them away from Him. Nothing is more divisive in this country than politics. I have seen Christians behaving in the worst possible ways in defense of their chosen lesser evil. Do we honestly think this is lost on the unbelieving world? That we talk, post, and tweet Jesus all day long and then spew some vile and venomous hatred towards the other candidate? If people see that you lie so casually about something as ultimately trivial as politics, why in the world would they believe anything you have to say about Jesus?
No beloved. We need to enter into our own witness protection program. There is a reason why the Bible says to not let any corrupting talk come out of our mouths. Before we speak, retweet, or repost we need to ask ourselves what this will do to our witness for Jesus Christ. Why? Because our witness may be the only chance someone has to hear the first seed of the Gospel sown. Will what we have to say result in gathering people to Christ or scattering them away? Because in the end it's the Gospel stupid. It is the only thing that matters because it is the only thing that has to power of God unto the salvation of man. Do not fret about rendering unto Caesar what belongs to him. We serve the God of the entire universe! Do you think He fears a Trump or Clinton regime? Voting is a secular privilege, not a Christian mandate. We are not taking over any mountains or setting up the United Christian States of America. If you want to positively affect this country then protect your witness. If you want to really affect this country, preach the Gospel. Now the final plank in the platform of a Biblical Voting Guide.
Plank Number Five -- Do Not Defend Evil. One of the very real and perhaps unintended consequences of trying to insert faith into politics is the conferring of righteousness to the unrighteous. By pretending that we alone have determined "God's choice" we actually end up making the argument that the lesser evil is somehow not evil. Spurgeon once said that when presented with the choice of two evils he chooses neither. We would be wise to do the same. We should pray and seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit when it comes to our vote and then cast that vote accordingly. We should not however then pretend that we have made a righteous choice and others have not. The lesser of two evils remains evil and defending it is still defending evil. I have no issue with the arguments about the evilness in the candidacy of any candidate. But to use the Bible to try and defend a candidate is to abuse God and destroy your witness. Just as Hillary Clinton is not Deborah, Donald Trump is not King Cyrus. Can God use Him? Sure; just as He would use Clinton. God uses everything for His plans and His will. Barack Obama was not a righteous choice and neither was George W. Bush.