…aka “The End Of The World As We Know It.”
Or so it might seem to some, as the senate passed the president’s healthcare reform package last night.
WARNING: POLITICAL STUFF AHEAD. PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK.
If you know me, you know how conservative I am politically. I put the “fun” in fundamentalism! I’m over here on the far right, bitterly clinging to my guns and my religion and frustrated that a bunch of rich guys who have a pretty sweet compensation package have spent a trillion dollars of my kids’ and grandkids’ money. I am awfully worried that my already crappy healthcare will get worse, not better under this system. I am all for reforming a broken system, but TRUST ME this is not the way that I would have done it.
That said, I am reminded of my reading in Colossians this month. Our online men’s Bible study is reading Colossians every day in March, and I was really struck this morning by Colossians 1:16:
For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.
The “thrones and dominions and rules and authorities” were both created by the Lord…and for Him. This is His deal, not mine. And whether I like it or not, this is where we are. He created human government and ordained it as an authority in the life of His people (as Paul taught in Romans 13:1-7). Sure I can make the counterargument that in the time in which Paul wrote the people had no say over who their leaders were, but that is strictly not true in the Roman senatorial system. It was a representative government not completely dissimilar to ours. So I can complain all I want (and I will!) that the leaders we have in place miscarried the authority we vested in them, I must temper that frustration with the knowledge that it is the Lord who ordains authority, and it is to Him that they answer.
Then I kept reading this morning, and came to Colossians 3:1-4:
1 Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.
3 For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
4 When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.
I have been raised up with Christ, so my first responsibility is to set my mind on the things above. I know that politics is a hot button to me, and that I must try my best to get involved and make the world a better place for my kids. However, I can’t make this earth into the kingdom of God because that’s a losing battle. God’s kingdom will be inaugurated not when the right elected representatives take office or the right legislation is enacted, but when Christ is revealed from heaven. And until that happens I need to remember to keep my eyes on the prize and not obsess over what happens here on earth so much that I forget to focus on the kingdom of God.
Then I thought about it some more. (I didn’t get a great night’s sleep and had a long run this morning, so I had time to think) I thought about the passage I preached on Sunday, which included Luke 20:20-26. In that time the people of God were faced with a government that was unpopular and in a lot of ways odious to the people; the Romans were not liked by the Israelites! Though they tried to get Jesus into the midst of the political fray, Jesus wouldn’t be drawn into the world’s politics. He was frankly ambivalent, preferring the people to give the government it’s due and then focus on what God wanted them to do. That seems to be the consistent theme of the New Testament, to do what is right by the civil authorities God has ordained over you (that’s Romans 13:1-7), to pray for those in leadership (1 Tim 2:1-2), and to live for the kingdom of God and not the kingdom of man.
On a practical level, first of all that really changed my attitude. Rather than having my day ruined (or week or month or whatever), I was able to release my frustration and give it to Christ. I was able to focus on my oldest daughter’s 13th birthday today, which is more important in my life than any legislation could ever be. And I was reminded again in Col 3 to set my mind on Christ and serving Him.
Does that mean I think that politically active Christians are wrong? Not at all; in fact, I have written my representatives at every level of government. I take an active interest in issues and candidates and vote in every election. (well, almost…I think I missed one not too long ago that was local bond overrides only) I ask my representatives to represent me well and do the best I can to honor God with my citizenship, in the same mold that Paul used his citizenship to try to spread the gospel whenever he could. I admire Christians who run for public office and pray that they take their walk with Christ with them into office when they win.
I am just reminded that when things aren’t going my way, that doesn’t mean that God is not at work. Maybe, just maybe He is working within me and within His people to remember that the kingdom of God cannot be voted or legislated in. It only comes when Jesus comes again, and until He does we need to remember that our focus needs to always and continually be on His kingdom and what He wants for our lives.
And let’s all, no matter our political affiliation, follow the commands of God in 1 Timothy 2:1-2 today.