Thursday, April 09, 2009

Challenging Assumptions

I have been doing a lot of thinking lately about a Christian’s involvement in politics. There are a few basic realities that play a part in this dilemma. I am a Christian, and that means that first and foremost my allegiance is with God and that I am a citizen of His Kingdom. Building off of that reality is that my responsibility as a citizen of God’s Kingdom is to bring other people into that Kingdom by pointing them to Jesus. Any thing that gets in the way of this primary responsibility of a Kingdom citizen needs to be thrown away.

This is why politics, at least for me, is such a tough issue. The nature of politics is division, which is broken down into different political parties and different political philosophies. Politics, therefore, often de-evolves into an us against them situations where emotions run high and reason is thrown out the window. For some people just the mere mention that you are a different political party causes the hair on the back of their neck stand up. At those times it doesn’t matter what you say, the other person is on the defensive and ready to fight. You can’t talk about Jesus if the other person already has you pegged as the enemy.

That is why following Jesus and politics has been such a dilemma for me. I enjoy politics and I understand that there is much at stake when it comes to the way we are governed, but I have also experienced how politics erects a wall that cut short an opportunity to have a meaningful conversation about Jesus.

In light of the same sex union (I refuse to call it marriage, it cannot be marriage unless God recognizes it as such, and so I am not going to surrender this word to the world) decision that the Iowa Supreme Court handed down on last Friday I have once again gotten the itch to talk politics. I am especially interested in the Constitution and how it helps govern us.

As I have been doing some reading that has fueled my thinking one quote I came across has stuck with me. I found this on a website devoted to Thomas Jefferson quotes, so I don’t know if Jefferson actually said this or what the context was for it, but Jefferson reportedly said (wrote), “Each generation needs a new revolution.”

What does this mean? I don’t think that Jefferson is advocating a revolution like the American Revolution every generation, but a challenging of ideas and assumptions of the older generation. Not truths, the little I have read of Jefferson, I think he recognized that there were certain fundamental truths which guided the world, but the beliefs held by people that need to be changed.

Let me throw out some examples so you can understand what I mean. In the political realm one assumption that needs to be challenged and overthrown for liberty to survive is the assumption of Judicial opinion becoming law. That is how we have arrived at abortion on demand and now same sex unions. The Constitution is very clear on how a bill becomes law, and even if you accept that the Courts void an unconstitutional law (which I don’t), it still requires Congress to pass a new bill and have that new bill passed by the president (or governor). The way it is right now there is nothing to stop the courts from taking away our rights based on their opinions.

Another assumption that we must challenge is the concept of a two party system. Far too many people are living without representation because they have no representation, because neither Republicans or the Democrats (which could be a single party as far as I am concerned) truly represent what they believe. I am one of them. The one guy that is representing me that I like is Representative Steve King, but he has dropped the ball on the issue of same sex unions. We need at least a third party, if not more, to break up the political monopoly the two corrupt parties have on the government.

A third assumption that we need to challenge is the idea of an income tax. I am not opposed to taxes, but the way the government taxes through the income tax is a breach of our liberty. There is no need for an average citizen of a free country to free the government, but that is what happens each and every year with taxes and the IRS. We have to make sure the every t is crossed and i is dotted or face the threat of an audit. That is crazy, and the fact that I founders opposed such a tax should tell us something as well.

The list could go on and on: the Fed, illegal wars, the war on drugs, etc. Hopefully you get the idea. If we the people don’t start stand up to the government and their abuses of the Constitution then sooner a later the opportunity to bring about a peaceful revolution will be gone.

So the government doesn’t feel like I am just picking on it, let me mention a few assumptions that we as American Christians need to challenge if we hope to regain influence in the country that we live in.

First, is that we are not fighting a culture war. We have made enemies and allowed the Church to shrink by fighting this so called war the last thirty years. The culture war has been a disaster for the Church. It is time we have moved on and got back to doing the work Christ has called us to do: make disciples.

A second assumption is the idea of being relevant. Sure, we should seek to present the Gospel in a relevant way, but that doesn’t mean that we have to consume ourselves with the trying to be like world. We win a dying world to Christ Jesus, not though being like the world, but by being radically different from the world. Let us stop consuming the entertainment of this world and start focusing on the truth God has given us, and how that is to play out in our lives.

A final assumption is the notion that following Jesus is not a religion, but a relationship. Please, following Jesus is a religion. Christianity provides the framework for which we come to know God. There are certain obligation God expects of us (look at Acts 2:42-47) and these are to be done in the structure that He has established. We have too many Christians who have their own “personal” Jesus, but they have never had a really encounter with the risen Lord (so, one wonders, are they really Christians?). Being part of a local Church and participating in that community of faith is essential for all people following Jesus.

Each generation has to rise up and challenge the assumptions and false beliefs of the generation before it. Time is ticking away, but there is still time for this generation to rise up in revolution and reclaim liberty and truth. If we don’t do it now it we might lose our chance.

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