Tuesday, November 13, 2012

God and Nations

I did not say much about the United States presidential election when it was going on. This is because I do not believe the real cultural issues we face as Evangelicals can be solved by political means. Christians have an obligation to be involved in politics and to do what we can to promote justice. But legal measures only work to outwardly restrain sin and are only effective if the general consensus of society agrees with them. I like Luther's analogy that the civil use of the Law is like a muzzle on a wild animal. It does not change the nature of the animal, but it keeps the animal from biting you. Our culture has for some time been drifting away from traditional Christian values. Christian political action has only been a holding action against the drift. While I did not strongly support him, I was hoping Mitt Romney would win because I felt that it would slow the drift. But to understand the drift, we need to see the broader perspective.

The early Christians were powerless, but they concentrated on preaching God's truth and living in obedience to that truth and had an substantial impact on the society in which they lived. So much so that when the Roman Empire was floundering, it embraced Christianity as a means to hold society together. Though the Empire fell, Christianity became the glue that helped preserve civilization in the ensuing chaos. But when the crisis was over, European civilization began the process of throwing off the yoke of Christianity. This is not surprising; Scripture tells us that the world is hostile to the things of God (John 15:18-25; 1 Corinthians 1:18-25: 1 John 2:13-15). It did not help that the visible church organization had corrupted itself through the pursuit of money and power. Since then, there have been various movements to restore a Biblical viewpoint and halt the decay. But the decline has, in the long run, continued. Also, whenever people have tried to use political force rather than spiritual influence to stop the deterioration, it has failed. Now we have come full circle and are Christians in a basically pagan society. If  we are to have an impact, we need to let go of the past and rebuild from where we are. That means we need to convince people of the principles we hold before we can expect much change in the legal system. And our emphasis needs to be preaching God's truth and living in obedience to that truth. It also means trusting in God rather than our political clout (Psalms 127:1,2; Proverbs 3:5,6; Daniel 2:21). Now part of living in obedience to God's truth is working for social justice. But if we see political action as the main vehicle for accomplishing our purposes, we are doomed to failure. We must change people's hearts before we can hope to be successful in changing the country's laws.    

No comments:

Post a Comment