CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

‘But Jesus Wasn’t Involved in Politics’

Oct 24, 2020

Responding to a foolish objection:

How often have you heard some Christian tell you that we should avoid political involvement because Jesus was not involved? This is a really foolish thing to say, but we hear it quite often – even from those who should know better. With more important elections coming up in various places in the near future, it is time to lay this furphy to rest.

And perhaps the easiest way to rebut this nonsense is to simply apply this “reasoning” to other areas of life. All we need to do is show the logical outcome of such unhelpful thinking. Consider the following:

-Christians should not be involved in setting up hospitals because Jesus was not.
-Christians should not be involved in working to free the slaves because Jesus was not.
-Christians should not be involved in opposing sexual trafficking because Jesus was not.
-Christians should not be involved in attempts to combat internet porn because Jesus was not.
-Christians should not be involved in ministering to AIDS patients because Jesus was not.
-Christians should not become schoolteachers because Jesus was not.
-Christians should not become scientists because Jesus was not.
-Christians should not become lifeguards because Jesus was not.
-Christians should not become office workers because Jesus was not.
-Christians should not be involved in marriage counselling because Jesus was not.
-Christians should not get married because Jesus was not.
-Christians should not drive cars because Jesus did not.
-Christians should not go to law school because Jesus did not.
-Christians should not go to Grand Finals or Super Bowls because Jesus did not.
-Christians should not eat pizzas because Jesus did not.
-Christians should not use online Bible programs because Jesus did not.
-Christians should not make comments on the social media because Jesus did not.

I think you get the drift by now. There are a kazillion things that Jesus did not do. And the reason he did not do so many perfectly valid and acceptable things was because he was a man on a mission. He was born to die. He was on an absolutely unique and one-time only mission.

As such, he would not let anything or anyone side-track him from what he came to earth to do. Thus he had to even strongly rebuke Peter when he sought to dissuade Jesus from carrying out his heavenly commission. Recall the scene in Matthew 16:21-23:

From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

It was Satan who wanted Jesus to get derailed from his divine mission of dying for sinners on the cross so that he might provide salvation to the fallen human race. As such, he often did not do things that were quite good in themselves. He had to fulfill his messianic role – that was his number one goal.

And these critics who say we should not get into politics need to remember something: they are NOT Jesus. They are NOT on a divine mission like he was. They are Not here to die on a cross for the sins of others. They are instead to be ambassadors for Christ in any number of legitimate ways.

Getting involved in politics is just one of these ways. God has led countless people over the centuries to get involved in politics, in parliaments, in government, and so on. They followed the divine leading and sought to be salt and light in that important arena. Not everyone is so involved, but some clearly are.

In the same way some believers are called to be fully involved in education, or health care, or the arts, or the media, or law, or in any number of other spheres. God wants his people to be making an impact in all areas of life. Some Christians he may call into so-called full-time Christian work such as the pastorate or missions.

But all work, all vocations, all activity, done out of obedience to God’s calling, and done for his glory, are really examples of full-time Christian work. In that sense, none are better than others. None are more “spiritual” than others. As the Apostle Paul put it, “whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

Image of You've Heard It Said: 15 Biblical Misconceptions That Render Christians Powerless
You've Heard It Said: 15 Biblical Misconceptions That Render Christians Powerless by Array Amazon logo

Plenty more could be said about this matter. For example, the simple fact that Jesus was willing to speak truth to power, to challenge the political structures and leaders of his day, shows that he actually WAS involved in politics. But I have penned numerous pieces making the case for Christian political and social involvement. Here are some of them:

billmuehlenberg.com/2019/06/21/on-christian-political-involvement/

billmuehlenberg.com/2011/12/06/christianity-and-political-involvement/

billmuehlenberg.com/2012/09/08/why-christians-should-be-interestedinvolved-in-politics/

Let me offer one quote from a 1991 book that looks at 15 biblical misconceptions that prevent believers from making a difference in the surrounding culture:

The Bible never condemns political involvement. John the Baptist does not rebuke Herod for his political position, but for his sinful actions as a ruler (Matthew 14:4; Mark 6:18), and neither does he tell the soldiers to resign their positions. He only exhorts them to act ethically; that is, keep politics clean (Luke 3:14). Jesus does not quarrel with Pontius Pilate over whether he should rule; He only reminds him why he rules and, implicitly, by what standard he ought to rule (John 19:11). Again, clean politics is the emphasis. Paul calls rulers God’s ministers, servants in the political sphere (Romans 13:4). These rulers are to promote the good. Paul appeals to Caesar, the seat of Roman political power, to gain a hearing for the cause of the gospel (Acts 25:11). Why turn to the civil magistrate for civil protection if the civil government (politics) is inherently evil? How could Paul ask support for the purity of the gospel from something that was inherently “dirty”?

Practical application

I was tempted to conclude my piece with the above quote. But let me go a bit further and show the importance of what I have been talking about. Let me demonstrate what is at stake if Christians pull out of political involvement, including who they vote for.

A brand-new article by Catholic commentator William Kilpatrick is worth drawing your attention to. Entitled “America’s Last Chance?,” he reminds us of just how important the upcoming US presidential election is. Here are his concluding paragraphs:

In recent years, we have also witnessed two other large-scale coups—the takeover of the mainstream media by people who reject the American heritage, and the takeover of social media by a collection of “woke” billionaire technocrats who look upon freedom of speech as an outmoded relic of the past. However, the biggest coup of all, thus far, is the takeover of the Democratic Party by the revolutionary left. Should the Democrats win the election, the 245-year-old American experiment in liberty will come to an end—perhaps gradually at first, but then with increasing speed.

When the full force of the new revolutionary order is felt, people won’t know what hit them. They won’t know because they don’t have the historical context to understand that the taking away of liberties is what revolutionary leftists always do. Younger Americans will know everything about the danger of climate change and the virtue of wearing a mask, but they will have learned precious little about the Soviet gulags, the Chinese communist re-education camps, and the imprisonment and torture of dissidents in communist Cuba.

There is no guarantee that the American system of government and the American way of life will survive. We cannot, as columnist Tony Blankely observed 15 years ago, “assume that the benign trends of the recent past will continue.” Instead, he cautioned, “we need to think in terms of when current trends will stop—and what will follow them.”

Of course, we should not think of the American experiment with self-government as a trend.  Rather, it is one of history’s most splendid achievements—a priceless gift to succeeding generations. We must be prepared, however, for the possibility that it can come to an end, or rather, be put to an end.  And we must, as Blankely warned, think about what will follow.  We may have to start thinking about that future in as little as two weeks. turningpointproject.com/americas-last-chance/

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8 Responses to ‘But Jesus Wasn’t Involved in Politics’

  • Bravo Bill, Bravo.
    Psalm 33:12
    Blessed is the nation who’s God is the Lord,
    the people he chose for his inheritance.
    When we no longer have are nation, then we have lost our inheritance.
    I opened an old Atlas one day and what I saw astounded me. In the early 70’s the top 7 wealthiest nations in the world were the ones that called themselves Christian nations. Back then we borrowed to other nations and now we are in debt to them. The head has now become the tail, we need to repent of our ways. Those who still have the privilege of attending are church need to be bold and start speaking the truth to our brothers and sisters in the Lord. Time to get out of our Goldfish bowls and start looking at what is happening around us. If not now, then when!

  • Atheistic marxism’s ‘long march through the institutions’ during the past more than half a century has resulted in teachers and journalists, among others, being saturated/brainwashed in godless marxism throughout their educational journeys. This determined process has brought us to the place we are now in the Western world, where very many young people who have been through university education have completely absorbed the ‘socialist utopia’ ideal/dream, despite the reality that in every country where it has been implemented, socialism has proven to be a freedom-destroying and widespread-misery-inducing lie.

    For the sake of the blessings of freedom that we cherish – for the sake of our children and for future generations! – it is imperative that Christians stand up to be counted, engaging faithfully in the vitally important spheres of education and journalism and politics at every level, all of which influence so many.

    Remaining comfortably cocooned in our personal lives is no longer an option for those concerned to be faithful stewards of God’s blessings to us – significantly the blessing of living in a free country.

    Stand up for God’s values and for the rapidly eroding Judeo-Christian ethic, upon the foundation of which our wonderful free societies were built – all the while standing courageously against inevitable persecution that will come.

    Men and women of faith, the Lord would say to you:

    Be bold, be strong, for the Lord your God is with you!

    Stand up and be counted!

    And pray without ceasing . .

  • Well the bible never talk about Jesus washing his clothes, using the bathroom, bathing, combing his hair or otherwise grooming so should we be avoiding these things??? On the flipside do we have to then do everything he did??? That walking on water bit might be difficult. Haven’t seen the multiplying of fishes and loaves recently. How many of us were born in a manger????

    Problem with a lot of these people is they keep refining the premise each time you point out they wrong like with homosexuality first the Bible doesn’t say it is wrong, then the new testament, then Jesus, then when you mention the marriage verse he did specifically say gays or homosexuals. Every time you show them they are wrong they just move the goal posts. I’m sure some would say Jesus never specifically spoke against LGBTQ people (never mind the fact that term is a recent invention).

    It is said those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. But keeps happening you would think EVENTUALLY someone would catch on. Hard the believe it hasn’t even been 100 years since the holocaust and the world seems to be on the precipice of another far worse one. In America we have only been out of the cold war 30 years and we are ready to set up a Soviet system here gulags and all.

  • Interview with Marc Sidwell, author of “The Long March through the Institutions – How the Left Won the Culture War & What To Do About It” (published June 2020).

    Marc Sidwell begins:

    “Part of the secret of the long march is that people don’t know about the long march. The idea is that if you do something over a very long period of time, over decades, then people don’t really notice the changes and it’s very hard to manoeuvre against it. And the idea of the long march was that over that sort of period you would move into the institutions of a society and you would take them over for a particular point of view. And this was a strategy of the revolutionary left. It was crystallized in 1967 . . and then taken up in America and elsewhere . .”

  • Dear Bill,

    Thank you for the article.

    The modern conception of democracy in Western societies emerged from the American and French revolutions resulting eventually in every person over a certain age having the right to vote. It is not a perfect system because ”agreement” by the people can be brought about by fear and manipulation and we are seeing this in action now because of the pandemic. It is really a system of government by the ”majority” of the people who decide which group of politicians govern. The” majority” can be as little as 51%. James Madison one of the founding fathers of the US Constitution safeguarded ”minorities” by giving them some political influence. The Madisonian concept was enshrined in the US constitution. In this way he made sure that the voice of the majority did not drown out other opinions. With this in mind it is imperative that Christians become involved in politics so that their diminishing voices are heard.

  • Ooooooh Bill, thank you for sharing the summation from William Kilpatrick. I have been trying to convey this ‘future’ to family and friends, but, admittedly, without the articulation expressed here. I now can point them to this article and hopefully see some eyes and ears respond.
    As always…thank you for all you do.
    Ron Adams

  • Absolutely correct Bill!

    From giving man dominion over the Earth to the prophet’s interaction with kings to God giving Israel dominion over other nations to God giving Israel over to Babylon to Christianity conquering Rome to Christian nations setting up democracy, etc. etc., etc. Of course Christians are meant to be involved in politics. We call them “ministers” from the Christian concept of ministering to others.

    Christianity set up democracy, you can’t get more political than that and the Greek’s claimed democracy was only ever an aristocracy.

    Anyone who claims Jesus was not involved in politics clearly has little understanding of why Jesus’ paying of the ransom required Him to submit to both priestly and secular authority and for them to do to Him whatever they willed. That was the transaction that was necessary to ensure the unrepentant would be doubly condemned and the repentant could receive God’s grace. It was the transaction that condemned those in power and circumvented man’s authority. It was a legal and political stroke of genius, albeit at a massive cost.

    Jesus set up the politics of peace which then conquered Rome. Mahatma Gandhi saw this clearly with the British culture in India and when he was educated in England, because it was so foreign to Hindu culture it stood out to him, and he and used the politics of peace to gain India’s self rule.

    Unfortunately Gandhi wasn’t the only one to learn about the politics of peace. Satan has been watching and, even though working through tyrannies is obviously easier for him, the modern power of the media has enabled him to also master the politics of peace – exactly as was prophesied. If we don’t oppose him we clearly are not doing battle with “spiritual wickedness in high places” and the scripture are clear that we are definitely required to resist evil. The Hebrew kings who did not resist evil were all condemned.

  • Haha – yeah – “Jesus had nothing to do with politics”: He upsets King Herod at his birth, he spends his time avoiding cities because the political Pharisees were after him, then in Mark 6:14 another Herod said Jesus was the resurrected John, then in Luke 13:31 the Pharisees warned Jesus that “Herod will kill you”, and in Luke 23:8 when Herod finally saw Jesus he was busting to see him in action and ends up befriending Pilate to gang up against Jesus – even going to the trouble of dressing Jesus up, then he gets crucified under the instructions of the Roman ruler of Jerusalem. Nothing to do with politics eh?
    Then there were the words of Jesus: Calling Herod a fox (Luke 13:32), his blatant railings against the Pharisees (who were playing politics with the Romans), his warning to his disciples about being brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them…
    Just read the Bible.
    Actually, I am having a hard time finding ANY major character in the Bible who DIDN’T have political influence. Joseph, Moses, Daniel, Samuel, David, Isaiah, Nehemiah, Peter, John, Paul… Oh, this list is endless…

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