My departed Grandpa used to tell me, “Boy, don’t get dragged into an argument about religion and politics, cuz it’s an argument you can’t win.”
While I think there’s some industrial strength wisdom in the gist of his advice, I don’t think it’s possible, much less advisable, for Christians to avoid conversations about these subjects – notice I said conversations not arguments.
But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. – Titus 3:9
The apostle Paul wrote to Titus who was dealing with a whole host of issues in Crete. Titus, like 1 & 2 Timothy, is known as a Pastoral Epistle because its focus is exhortation of the local pastor to be sound in doctrine (orthodoxy) and piety (orthopraxy) in the face of accusations, assaults, and attacks by false religionists. Recently I’ve been thinking about the ancient world as compared to our so-called post-modern world, and in the light of scripture it’s clear that people are basically Cretans in every culture and age – they are God-hating, self-loving, prideful, perverse, wretchedly wicked sinners.
One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” This testimony is true. – Titus 1:12-13
The “Preacher” in Ecclesiastes 1:9 sums things up nicely:
“What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done,
and there is nothing new under the sun.”
The ancient world was also a hodge-podge of what modernists might refer to as “multiculturalism”. The Jerusalem of David and Solomon was strategically situated smack-dab in the middle of an important crossroads in the ancient world. Ideas and armies, philosophies and nations flowed freely through this important geographic region; and the all-wise God sat His crown jewel, His shining city on a hill upon Mount Moriah so that she would be a witness of His glory to the nations. But the adulteress failed in her mission, becoming a byword and a wonder, her people cast to the four corners of the world in righteous judgment, only to be restored again, thereby opening the way for the True Israel to come.
Not unlike ancient OT Jerusalem in her glory, in the NT era Rome was also a bustling bastion of mixed humanity. Rome was the seat of power for the greatest empire the world had ever known, trampling and subduing the nations of the world by the military might of her well-organized, well-funded, and well-trained legions. And despite her subsequent oppression of the church, in God’s providence Rome provided a relative peace, infrastructure (the famous Roman roads), and a level of civilization unprecedented in the ancient world which allowed the Gospel of Jesus Christ to move swiftly throughout the empire, and beyond.
The inspired Apostle rightly perceives God’s all-encompassing and overarching sovereignty over all things great and small, including the nations of men:
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. – Romans 13:1
And the Scriptures further emphasize God’s absolute rule over the nations:
When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when he divided all humankind, he set up boundaries for the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel – Deuteronomy 32:8
You shall be driven away from human society, and your dwelling shall be with the animals of the field. You shall be made to eat grass like oxen, and seven times shall pass over you, until you have learned that the Most High has sovereignty over the kingdom of mortals and gives it to whom he will – Daniel 4:32
From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live – Acts 17:26
For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “I have raised you up for the very purpose of showing my power in you, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth” – Romans 9:17
The preceding proof texts barely begin to scratch the surface of God’s use of human governments and societies as means to bring about His ends. Consider the nations He raised up against rebellious Israel, the nations He judged using faithful Israel, and the nations He will gather together on the Great and Terrible Day of Lord in the battle of Armageddon where His enemies will be destroyed by the brightness of His coming!
But what am I getting at here?
What’s my point?
Why all the seemingly random, disconnected thoughts?
It’s just this – to all my friends who are caught up in religion and politics – please take a deep breath, stop for a moment, and deeply consider the absolute priority of the Eternal Gospel of Grace.
Democrats need Jesus. Republicans need Jesus. Independents need Jesus. Libertarians need Jesus. Tea-Partiers need Jesus. Socialists need Jesus. Communists need Jesus. Illegal immigrants need Jesus. Homosexual activists need Jesus. Proposition 8 supporters need Jesus. Proposition 8 opponents need Jesus. Mormons need Jesus. Oneness Pentecostals need Jesus. Jehovah’s Witnesses need Jesus. Seventh-Day Adventists need Jesus. Roman Catholics need Jesus. Baptists need Jesus. Charismatics need Jesus. Lutherans need Jesus. Presbyterians need Jesus. Anglicans need Jesus. Scientologists need Jesus. Jews need Jesus. Muslims need Jesus. Buddhists need Jesus. Hindus need Jesus. Atheists need Jesus. Your family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, acquaintances, and fellow church members need Jesus.
God thoughtfully placed you right where you are today for a reason – to glorify Him.
How can you glorify Him more than by declaring His amazing grace as it’s contained in the Gospel?
Who are you going to tell?