Thoughts of John

What is on my mind.

A Biblical Perspective on How to Approach Politcs

    The Correct World View Will Lead You in the Right Direction, Part. 4

There is almost universal agreement among New Testament scholars today that the core of Jesus’ proclamation was the "gospel of the kingdom." At the beginning of Mark’s gospel, we find the summary of Jesus’ message:
Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. "The time has come," he said. "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!"—Mk. 1:14-15
    Elsewhere, it is clear that Jesus believed that the kingdom of God was breaking into the present in His own work and person. Indirectly at first and then more openly He claimed to be the long-promised Messiah.
    Far too often we miss the profound political implications of Jesus’ proclamation of the kingdom of God and the resurrection’s confirmation that Jesus was indeed the Messiah who had ushered in that long-expected kingdom. Jesus came claiming to be the Messiah for the whole Jewish nation. He declared that in His person and work He was actually inaugurating the climactic moment in history when God would fulfill His promises to Israel, restore His chosen people, and use them to transform the nations so that in dramatic new ways God’s will would be done on earth as it is in heaven. We can argue that Jesus was naive or wrong, but we cannot pretend that He did not make this astonishing claim.
    It is important to understand that Christ’s victory on the cross has won a decisive victory over the unjust socioeconomic and political structures of our world. Their evil power is weakened. Christians certainly need not and should not embrace or submit to their evil ways. The church should and can be the church no matter what the world does, and the gates of hell will not prevail. The long-expected kingdom has truly broken into history, and Christians worship the risen Lord.
    The absolute power of Caesar and every other political ruler is undermined. Absolute power claims, Oliver O’Donovan says in The Desire of Nations, have "been in trouble ever since Christ rose from the dead." God’s people are a light to the nations, and they are now in full advance. Dramatic change, not just in the church but also in the structures of the world outside, is possible because these fallen structures have been conquered at the cross and resurrection.
    Here again, however, it is essential to remember the already/not yet of Jesus’ proclamation of the kingdom. He certainly taught that it was already present, breaking into history in powerful ways in His work and person. But He also said the kingdom was like a mustard seed that grows slowly (Mt. 13:31-32). The kingdom is not yet here in its fullness. It will come fully at that future day when the risen Lord returns to complete His victory over evil.
    That means that a Christian political philosophy dare not be either naively Utopian or socially pessimistic. A perfect society will always be beyond reach until Christ returns. Therefore Christians will be realists, expecting sin to persist in all human structures. On the other hand, we dare not be social pessimists, expecting nothing to change and therefore existing comfortably with societal injustice. Christ has won the decisive battle over the evil social structures. It is possible to produce dramatic improvement in history—we can end slavery, promote freedom and democracy, create wealth, and reduce poverty and injustice.

Discipleship Journal, Issue 165, Ron Sider

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May 11, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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