Saturday, July 24, 2010

To Be (political)...Or, Not To Be

It doesn't matter who the president is, someone is always not happy. Many people right now are frustrated and want to get involved in the political world. I have been very consumed with thinking about the government and what's going to happen in the future. Then, I started reading a book that changed my way of thinking a bit. I was reading an historical fiction novel about the apostles and the early church. First, a short history lesson.

Peter, Paul, Mark, John and many others lived and witnessed during the time of Caesar Nero in Rome. If you've never herd of Nero, you need to research him. He was the ancient Roman equivalent of Hitler. He made spectacles of executing "the Nazarenes", or followers of Jesus. He was the cruelest of cruel, a vile, evil man. Many, many believers and apostles of the early church were martyred under Nero, including Peter and Paul it is believed. It is even believed that he killed his own mother, a wife and a half brother.

All of the apostles and early believers faced many difficult challenges. They were all sought out and persecuted by both the Roman government and he Jewish elders. Paul was arrested, beaten, and shipwrecked for starters. John was boiled in oil, but lived to later be exiled to the island of Patmos. These were not men with special abilities. Peter was a fisherman. Paul was a Pharisee who was one of the first to persecute the early church before his conversion. Paul was also a tentmaker. These were just ordinary men who answered the call of Jesus. I think we can learn a lot from these men and how they dealt with their political environment, as well as how they focused their attention.

Paul was in Rome under house arrest. Acts 28:30-31 says, "For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kindom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ." Did you catch that? "Boldly and without hindrance" Pal did the very thing that got him arrested while he was still under house arrest.

1 Peter 1:24-25 says, "For ALL men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the Word of the Lord stands forever." Therefore, putting your trust in a politician to fix things - no matter how charismatic or powerful - is futile.

1 Peter 2:9, "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood,a holy nation, a people belonging to God,that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into is wonderful light." Peter was clearly not referring to Rome as a holy nation. In fact, his letter was addressed to people in many nations. Peter was referring to the Church, the followers of Christ as a holy nation. He was referring to us. We are to be declaring God's praises. We have to be very cautious in the political arena. Politics have a way of stirring up anger. Anger does not declare God's praises.

Peter continues in chapter 2, verses 11-12, "Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in this world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, thy may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us." If we are truly living our lives for Christ, we will be accused of many things. We will be persecuted. Jesus himself said in John 16:33, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." James 1:2 says,"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds."

Then, back to 1 Peter 2:13-17, "Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king."

In chapter 3, verses 15-16 he says, "But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander."

Bottom line is, we are to live our lives to spread the gospel. It matters not, who thinks they are in charge here. We know the truth. God is victorious, and the victory is ours. "As it is written: 'For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.' No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:36-39

No comments: