March 25, 2010

Jesus Is Independent

***My apologies if anyone feels I've contemporized Jesus too much and made Him pop culture-ish but I am trying to put forward what I believe is the real hope and real change. I also apologize to the supporters of the President but the iconography of the most recent election is indelibly imprinted into the collective conscience of society and being such is useful for the purposes of getting my idea across to the readers***

I don't know how you folks feel about but...

I am seriously considering removing myself from the political fray even though I have extremely strong opinions concerning the topic. I realize that other than voting I can exact little change it that arena. I believe my calling is to exact a change one person at a time using the Word of God. Speaking the truth, I believe that I can do more to change the world. Additionally, by changing myself first the change I am trying to incorporate becomes more effective. I should try to live and lead by example. It isn't so much about the masses, it's about the people. Jesus could've changed multitudes all at once. He mainly taught handfuls or single people at a time. The Apostles were a perfect example of this. I maintain my integrity this way and I do not succumb to the temptations that will derail me and make me a hypocrite.

I believe we as Christians can exact more of a change as a group by living the life rather than politicizing it. I saw for too long the Evangelical Right attaching itself to the Republican party and it has spelled our partial demise due to "guilt by association". It isn't much different than the Crusades or the Inquisition. A bad plan, poorly initiated and extremely poorly executed (no pun intended). In the end the crusaders and members of the Spanish Inquisition were killers killing under the banner of Christianity. Christianity was tarnished because of the inability of the world to discern who is and isn't Christian. We never fully recovered from that debacle. History is a harsh judge on those in the wrong. But again, I must clarify. These were people who were claiming to be Christian..while they were killing. The Bible tells me that I will recognize Christians by their "fruits":

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." ~Galatians 5:22

Please note it did not say murderous, not peaceful, unkind, bad, violent and out of control, etc.

When people see us that have a bone to pick they head for these gaping wounds in Christian history that are untenable and undeniable. We need to explain to them that more often than not these people were not Christian. There is an enormous gap between walking the walk and talking the talk. Most often than not these politicized motivations either led to mass slaughter or subjugation of a populace in the name of Christianity. Being a Christian was to be a choice for man not an ultimatum. Inversely, we are all only a single decision away from being just like the Crusaders or the Spaniards of the Inquisition. This is why Jesus raised the bar for us in the Sermon on The Mount.

"You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment..." Matthew 5:21-22

Having discussed this verbally with others most often the response is, "but that was the Catholic Church" or "that was the Jews of the Old Testament" or worst of all, "that was then, this is now, we're more civilized". Really? What was more civilized, the Crusades or the mechanized warfare and carnage initiated by the totalitarian political regimes of WWII -or- the godless political regimes of Communism? Everyone of these "systems" thought they were taking the "high road" and doing the right thing which made them more effective killers. What does the Bible say about the nature of man? He is sinful. Are we immune to it? The story of Israel is the story of us. We as humans are just as vulnerable as they were. The minute we deny that fact we condemn ourselves to repetition of the same error. "Those that ignore or forget history are doomed to repeat it". Sound familiar?

What does the Bible tell us about powers, principalities and the world system?

For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. ~Ephesians 6:12

The concept of principalities in Greek is [αρχἠ] or "arche" meaning chief/ruler or sovereignties. These principalities are ruling devil spirits possessing executive authority or governmental rule in the world. This ruling power usually involves a particular nation, people or race. The Bible says we are to engage the culture, not become it. I believe this applies to politics too. What is more "of the world's system" than politics?

God will always outlive the system or the institution especially the systems or institutions of the world. Why would I want to align myself with them or even get bent out of shape over them? As many do about politics (including myself). They are a dying breed. The Book of Revelation makes it clear they have a limited life span. They have an expiration date already stamped on them. I need to realize that my pull towards this system of the world is my flesh controlling me.

"The Old Testament may be studied ... as an instructor in social Righteousness. It exhibits the moral government of God as attested in his dealings with nations rather than with individuals; and it was their consciousness of the action and presence of God in history that made the prophets preachers ... to the world at large .... There is indeed significance in the fact that in spite of their ardent zeal for social reform they did not as a rule take part in political life or demand political reforms. They desired ... not better institutions, but better men"
Aspects Of The Old Testament; The Bampton Lectures, Pg. 430 (1901)~Robert Ottley

I figure it this way. Politics forces you to take side in an ongoing argment that has two or more sides to it. Rarely does it cause unity between people which is the core of society. Unity. Even people on the same side of the fence often disagree. It causes divisiveness not unity. Someone needs to show me in the Bible that the Body of the Church is to be devisive. We should create better men through Christ not better masses. Convert the man you will convert society. Each individual relationship is exactly that...individual. God is creating His Kingdom one soul at a time based on a relationship between He and you.

Please note through all of this I did not say, "Become a doormat". Render to Caesar what is his but when Caesar requires more than what God will allow, Caesar is to be ignored or discredited. Yes, Caesar in this context is a euphemism. I just can't see Jesus politicizing things to the extent that they have been politicized nowadays. The ends now justify the means and the means have become rather immoral and unethical. The more I get Christ in me the more I get out of politics (and the world). It is holding less and less sway over my life. I want to affect a change in this life but it won't be through man's systems and institutions. They are all destined for failure.

Jesus is independent. Independent from the world. He came into the world to save us but He is not of this world (John 17:16) and when we are in Him, neither are we. Independent from sin. Independent from man's silly institutions. Jesus is independent in that He is Holy. Independent as in distinct. Self reliant, self-contained, sovereign. Amen.

[To put this in perspective it should be read in conjunction with Ozymandias~Percy Bysshe Shelley]

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