Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Light of the World?


Contrary to the claims of politicians and MANY church leaders, Jesus is the “light of the world,” not any nation or political ideology

Latern - Photo by Vladimir Fedotov on Unsplash
Throughout history, political leaders and their cheerleaders have invoked “god” to validate their agendas and governments, and the most popular religion is employed to do so. Just as today’s officeholders pay lip service to “Judeo-Christian values,” so the emperors of Rome appealed to their traditional gods for divine approval - [
Photo by Vladimir Fedotov on Unsplash].

In this presumptuous endeavor, patriotism and religious faith become synonymous, lack of nationalistic fervor becomes heresy, and the nation is identified with the preferred religion. “America was raised up by God to be a city on a hill and a beacon of light to all nations.

And so, church leaders participate in this idolatrous pantomime, especially when partisan feelings run high. The inevitable result is the close association or even identification of God, Jesus, and Christianity with a nation, economic model, political ideology, or party.

ILLUMINATING THE WORLD?


The problem is especially acute in the United States of America. In its popular forms, preachers and pastors routinely categorize America as a “Christian nation,” as if a man's place of birth defined his religious beliefs. And they all too often proclaim this country to be the “light of the world” established by God to illuminate the rest of humanity.

The issue is not whether America is good, bad, or indifferent. But such statements contradict the words of Jesus who declared - “I am the light of the world!” The identity and nature of God can only be found in him, and there is no truth or life apart from him - (John 14:6-11, 8:12, 9:5, Acts 13:47, 26:23).

Because they reflect HIM, his followers become “lights of the world,” the “city set on a hill,” and they are called to let their “light shine before men so that they may glorify their Father in heaven.”

The light in Jesus that is reflected in his church is the only light capable of illuminating all  the nations of the earth. Christ gave his life for the entire world, not just for one nation, ethnic group, culture, or political system - (Matthew 5:13-16, John 3:16).

Any attempt to associate and identify Jesus and Christianity with specific nations and political ideologies is by nature idolatrous and contrary to Scripture. The Bible labels Jesus the “light of the world,” not western civilization, democracy, or free-market capitalism. When we proclaim democracy the “hope” or “light” of the world, we make it into a false and idolatrous religion.

That so many Christians embrace such sentiments demonstrates just how far from the biblical ideal we have strayed. Or perhaps more accurately, just what a terrible job our church leaders have done instructing their flocks.

ONLY ONE TRUE LIGHT


There is no true light, liberty, peace, or life apart from Jesus. Scripture declares that the church, the body of Spirit-filled believers, transcends all national, cultural, and ethnic boundaries. It is the true people of God, His “holy nation,” and the priestly kingdom that is called to mediate his light in a very dark world, including the United States of America.

Jesus did not establish his church to propagate democracy and “western civilization,” or to fix and restore a sinful society. Instead, his body is tasked with proclaiming the kingdom of God, summoning all men and women to repent and submit to the lordship of its king, Jesus Christ, and to do so immediately while the opportunity remains.

Lighthouse at Night - by Evgeni Tcherkasski on Unsplash
[Lighthouse by Evgeni Tcherkasski on Unsplash]

Christians are a pilgrim people in this fallen world, their true citizenship is in the kingdom of God. To be a loyal citizen of His domain means giving total allegiance to its sole ruler. This leaves no room for dual citizenship or conflicted loyalties. Furthermore, sooner or later, all other existing regimes will cease to exist, and only the kingdom of God will be left standing - (
1 Corinthians 7:31, 15:20-28, Philippians 3:20, 1 Peter 1:1-2).

Neither the government of the United States nor its society has ever submitted to the absolute lordship of Jesus (nor has the government of Canada, Australia, the European Union, etc.). By default, it is other than Christian, a part of the existing world order already judged on Calvary.

The immersion of American Christians into partisan politics has diverted us from our paramount task - To proclaim the gospel to all nations.  We forget who and what we are. Jesus did not task us with “engaging the culture,” reforming society or the political system. The existing order is destined for destruction, its fate is sealed. Why do we continue to “work for the meat that perishes”?

This is not a call to disengage from the world but to reengage it using the biblical means: with prayer, witness, acts of mercy, and self-denying service to others. In other words, to become witnesses of and for Jesus Christ.

The kingdom of God cannot be advanced by the ballot box, military might, or economic and political power, but only through men and women who live cruciform lives that reflect his light.


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