Polticis and Church:
It's on the news, facebook, and every form of communication available, there's an upcoming Presidential election and everyone, one way or another has an opinion about it. There are reasons to vote or not to vote for a candidate. As the years progress in my ministry, politics is a hot and many times an emotional topic. Over the years, there's also been an increase of passion and opinion when it comes to religion and politics and it is to that point that I wish to discuss:
1. MIXING RELIGION AND POLITICS: As a child I watched a commercial for Reese's Peanut Butter cups. This treat began with the unfortunate meeting of chocolate and peanut butter. Two people walking down the street, one eating chocolate and the other eating peanut butter, accidentally run into each other and get their stuff mixed up with the other person's stuff. They accuse each other of ruining their treat. What they discover, as is the selling point of this treat, is that peanut butter and chocolate make a wonderful combination. There are those who believe that it is wise to mix religion and politics and many who are passionate that religion has no place in politics and visa versa. How are we as believers to view the role of politics and religion? What does God say to us and what does Scripture teach and admonish us?
2. GOOD AND BAD WAYS TO VIEW RELIGION AND POLITICS:
A. Bad ways to view politics and religion;
Keep politics out of religion
Keep religion out of politics
Run religion by politics
Run politics by religion.
Bad ways of viewing politics and religion is to mesh them into one or keep them totally separate from each other. Let me clarify some more.
B. Good ways to view politics and religion.
Realize that the church; (the proper way for Christians to call religion) and the state; (the proper way for Christians to view call politics) are two Kingdoms that God rules and governs and blesses all.
Realize that we believers live in these two Kingdoms at the same time. We are citizens of heaven and citizens of the state. Realize that God works through both these Kingdoms, Christians serve in both these kingdoms and God will judge us according to our works in these two Kingdoms.
The Kingdom of the church, or as Luther calls it the Kingdom of the right is the Church in its ministry and role to expand the Kingdom of God through proclaiming the Gospel, administering the sacraments and through the work of God in His Word in touching souls and lives for Christ.
The Kingdom of the state or as Luther calls it the Kingdom ofthe left is the state and its work to collect taxes, govern its citizens, punish evil doers, use reason and logic to better serve citizens, fight just wars and work for the common good of all.
Both are divine institutions.
The Kingdom of the church strengthens believers in their walk with God to strenghten their rightesousness in serving their fellow man in both the church and the state. The work of the Kingdom of the right actually blesses believers to walk as godly people in the Kingdom of the left, the state.
Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior demonstrated the correct view and practice of these two kingdoms by giving money to both, "Render unto Ceasar...." and by obeying lawful authority, endorsing the legitimacy of government, which is the left. Yeet at the same time his mission was on the right as He worked to expand God's Kingdom through the preaching of God's Word and dying and rising for all.
C. But what about mixing?
If you read carefully above, there is a beneficial limit to mixing, Individual Christians do have a say and yes, a godly responsibility in government in our state that utilizes democracy. Christians may serve in public roles and offices and these are godly callings. God's Word calls Christians to obey and respect the government. (See Romans 13). In our nation, clergy can serve in public roles and our nation observes religious influence by the use of religion in prayers that open governing sessions and in government decorations and ornaments that are religious. (Simply walk around Washington D.C.). The government may ask the church to serve the state by praying for it or by assisting in emergency situations. In our nation we're blessed as our 1st Admendment rights limits the government's power, not the church's power or its rights. Tax ememption status has been given to the church as the state has realized that a godly and moral people, influenced by religion, is ultimately good for the nation. The state also recognizes that the church is able to touch lives very effectively and uniquely as charity is many times best done person to person.
D. What about the role of the Pastor? The pastor is called,and encourates individual believers to pray for both the church and state. The Pastor is called to be a godly model to both, urging members to serve in both. Yet the pastor will not speak to the specifics of the state unless Scripture clearly dictates. The pastor expounds on The Word, not politicial ideology. Remember, all will eventually pass away, but God's Word won't. Jesus didn't spend a whole lot of time critiquing Ceasar, Herod, or Pontius Pilate. Contrary to many today, Jesus never really did endorse any form of government or any form of economy. Jesus did spend much time speaking God's Word, edifying His church and being the light, rock, shepherd and heart of God. In this light, Dr. Luther observed that it is the devil that seeks to mold and blend these two divine institutions into one, hence Jesus did away with the Old Testament form of Theocracy.
If you wish to learn more, there's and in depth Bible Study beginning on Thursday, August 25, called, "The Two Kingdoms and I" in which participants will be blessed in understanding the role and blessing of these two Kingdomas. Dr. Luther correctly conveys that when one has a proper view of these two, they have a proper view of reality. God bless our nation, God bless our church and God bless you! In Christ, Pastor Kurt Mews