Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Fixing Broken Things

There is no shortage of broken things in our county or our world. When things are broken, we want to fix them. If we're not skilled repairmen we might discover that our efforts only make things worse. Certainly, such unskilled efforts can lead to our frustration. Moreover, our urgent desire to see things fixed makes us vulnerable to all sorts of suggested remedies.

Evangelical Christians (among whom I count myself), have sought a number of solutions to the national and cultural problems of our day, many of which (while well-intentioned) have failed to address them in a distinctively Christian manner. Some of us have retreated into our Christian ghettos and withdrawn completely from the process, while others have become activists and sought a variety of political remedies. For some the family has become the primary institution of redemption while others have wedded God and country―a version of American patriotism―the "Christian nation." In many cases Christians have come to equate their own cause with conservative political ideology, thus becoming one more special interest group in the political milieu.

The Church, however, stands above and apart as the Kingdom of God. She is the "pillar and ground of the truth." She is central; not peripheral. Christ is the Head of His own Body and He remains Prophet, Priest and King. He speaks (through His Church) to the world and to His people. He intercedes (through the Church) for the world and His people, and He rules (through the Church) over both the world and His people. The Church is an outpost of heaven in a fallen world; she is the light shining on the hill. The Christian family or individual is an outpost of the Church (not the other way around).

The world can only be fixed by the Master Carpenter and thus, bowing the knee to Him is our only hope of repair. Worship―acknowledging Him for who He is and for what He has done―is at the absolute center of where we must begin if anything (or everything) is to be redeemed, including politics. We may not blend the teachings of Jesus, and Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr., along with the Founding Fathers, which is to confuse our categories. The worship of the one true and living God is the only organizing principle that can produce loving communities (i.e., societies). It's within those redemptive communities (i.e., the church), where we really live and serve and grow and mature. From there we go out and call others to bow the knee in worship and call them to join the community of the redeemed.

Like our nation, the nation of Israel was broken and in need of repair. Peter healed a lame man by pointing him to Jesus. The political leaders demanded an explanation and so, Peter delivered a political speech in Acts 4:11-26. Here is part of what he said to the rulers:

8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: 9 If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, 10 let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. 11 This is the 'stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.' 12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."

While Peter speaks of individual salvation, he also speaks of much more. Our political task is indirect but it's also powerful. It's the same message that rocked Rome and turned the world upside-down. The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!" (Rev. 11:15). If you have a choice between worshiping and voting, then worship. If you have the opportunity to do both, then vote in a manner that glorifies God.

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