Sunday, April 14, 2024

The Shining City

Contrary to the claims of politicians and far too many church leaders, Jesus is the only light able to illuminate this dark world, and as they follow him “wherever he leads,” preach his Gospel, and otherwise reflect him, his Body, the Assembly of Spirit-filled saints, becomes the only shining “City on a Hill” on the Earth.

Politicians and their cheerleaders invoke the name of “god” to validate their programs and power, and they employ popular religious ideas when doing so. Just as rulers in Western-style democracies pay lip service to “Judeo-Christian values.” Likewise, Emperor Augustus Caesar appealed to traditional Roman morality and deities for divine approval of his regime and conquests.

Church Steeple at Night - Photo by Jametlene Reskp on Unsplash
[Photo by Jametlene Reskp on Unsplash]

Too often, patriotism and religious faith become intertwined and even synonymous in popular thinking. Any lack of nationalistic fervor becomes religious heresy and treason

Far too many church leaders participate in this idolatrous practice, especially when partisan feelings run high during elections. The inevitable result is the attempt to ally and even identify God, Jesus, and Christianity with the nation-state, culture, and government.

To maintain this fiction, presidents, kings, members of Parliament and Congress, and dictators claim their country is the “shining light set on a hill” that illuminates the rest of the world to show humanity a higher way, an idolatrous assertion to which many church leaders voice a hearty “Amen!”

Politicians are rarely morally upright or selfless men, so we can understand their self-serving efforts to hijack the faith of Jesus Christ in the pursuit of power and popularity. However, it is an entirely different matter when “Christian” leaders join this blasphemous chorus, proclaiming their nation, its form of government, and political ideology as the “light of the world” and the representative of God’s kingdom on Earth.

Biblically speaking, this controversy is not whether a country, culture, or government is good, bad, or indifferent, or whether God champions democracy, autocracy, or socialism over other forms of government. Such idolatrous claims contradict the teachings of the New Testament, especially the declaration that Jesus of Nazareth is “the Light of the World.”

His light is reflected by his local assemblies and disciples, not by any political party or regime of this fallen age. Moreover, his light beckons all men and women to be reconciled with God and become his followers.

Jesus gave his life for the entire world, for “all nations,” and not for only one nation, ethnic group, culture, or political system. The Bible labels him the “Light of the World,” not Western civilization, democracy, socialism, or free-market capitalism.

When church leaders and organizations embrace ideas about the nation or political system being the “light” it demonstrates just how far from the biblical ideal popular “Christianity” has strayed in its mad pursuit of political power.


There is no true light, liberty, peace, lasting prosperity, or life without Jesus. Scripture declares that his church transcends all national, cultural, and ethnic boundaries, or at least in theory if not present reality. He summoned his people to become a priestly kingdom that would mediate his light to a dark world. Super patriotism and other forms of state idolatry will hinder if not derail his Assembly from this mission.

Jesus did not establish his Church to propagate the political ideologies of this age, but to proclaim the Good News of his Kingdom and Salvation to every nation - “To the uttermost parts of the Earth.”

His disciples are pilgrims and sojourners in this sinful world, and their citizenship is in God’s Kingdom. To be a loyal citizen of His realm means giving total allegiance to its Sovereign, which leaves no room for dual citizenship or split loyalties. Sooner or later all the existing regimes of this world will cease to exist. They are “perishing meat.”

No existing government has ever officially or directly acknowledged the absolute lordship of Jesus, let alone submitted to his authority. Whatever else they are good or bad, they are other than Christian. All existing nations and political ideologies are part of the world order that was judged on Calvary, consequently, the forms and institutions of this age are “passing away.”

The immersion of churches and Christians into partisan politics has distracted them from their paramount task, proclaiming the Gospel to all nations. When they do so, their “lamps” fade as they cease reflecting the light of Jesus and instead demonstrate who their true lord is, namely, “Caesar.”

This is not a call to passivity or disengagement from the world, but an exhortation for followers of Jesus to reengage their fellow men with the methods described in the Bible, including prayer, self-sacrificial service for others, and teaching the Word, and above all, by becoming shining lights and witnesses of Jesus of Nazareth.

His Kingdom cannot be advanced by the ballot box, military might, economic dominance, or political power. Only men and women living cruciform lives submitted to his absolute Lordship can reflect his bright light, thereby pointing men and nations to the truth and life found only in Jesus Christ.

  • Idolizing Caesar - (The World Empire’s propagandists encourage men and women to give allegiance to and idolize Caesar, the Beast from the Sea)
  • Calvary or Rome? - (When offered by Satan, Jesus refused the political power of Rome. So, why do we continue to seek what he rejected?)
  • Fleeting Power - (Only God’s kingdom will prevail and endure in the end. All other political powers are transitory. Already they are passing away)