With election season upon us I think what I have been listening to lately is very appropriate. No, don't worry, I'm not getting involved in politics again. Far from it actually. What I've been listening to and thinking about is actually prompting me to be even less interested in politics than I have been recently (which lately has been very little).
The call rings out across the land: "Christians everywhere unite. Let's win this country back for God". My response a few months ago would probably have been one of passionate agreement with that sentiment. Yeah, lets go, lets mobilize the troops and get out there and vote in people who will return this country to its "City on a Hill" status like it was in the "good old days".
Good old days eh? Hmm, when exactly were the good old days? Maybe a year or two in the 1950's? Umm, no, we still had segregation then. Maybe back in the 1700's or 1800's? Umm, wrong again, we were wiping out Native Americans and enslaving Africans back then.
Don't get me wrong, I haven't turned into some America hating Communist. For all its faults, past and present, the United States has always gotten a lot of things right and has always seemed willing to learn from its mistakes (albeit very slowly and very painfully).
But, let me get to what I think is the most important point here. And that is the question of what relationship the Christian Church should have to politics and political power. Well, the simple answer is: "NO RELATIONSHIP AT ALL!" Now that I've got your attention let me explain. The Christian Church is the body of Christ. Its job is to represent Christ to those around it. Jesus never once attempted to compel behavioral changes or morality through any type of force, physical or political.
Jesus lived in an empire that was every bit as immoral, sinful and hedonistic as ours could ever hope to be; He lived in a part of the empire that was rife with political dissent and dreams of throwing off the rule of the Romans. But yet he never advocated the use of power to change behavior or got involved in politics for any reason, even "good" reasons.
So on to what I've been listening to and the point of the title of this post. I've been listening to a sermon series by Gregory Boyd (senior pastor of the Woodland Hills Church in St. Paul MN) from back in 2004 (another pretty highly charged political time). The series is entitled "A Myth, a Cross and a Sword" and resulted in a book called The Myth of a Christian Nation. I've been listening to and reading Greg's stuff on some other subjects and have found it to be life changing. When I discovered his take on politics mirrored the feelings I've been having lately it was a bonus. In this series Greg Boyd lays out, far better than I could, a compelling take on the relationship between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdoms of the World. Capped off by a call to pay more attention to the logs in our own eyes than the specks in the eyes of others, and to remember that our duties, especially to those outside the Church, are those of healing, help and honor, rather than condemnation and compulsion.
Check out the sermon series here: The Cross and the Sword.
If you are daunted by the task of listening to them all try starting with this one, I think it is a good summary of the whole: Is the Church the Guardian of Social Morality?