Saturday, November 11, 2006

Influence or Control

One of the biggest problems for Christianity came when Constantine decided to support it as the religion of the state. When the church comes into power or begins to seek power then it falters in following Jesus. When the church seeks to influence power, to become the prophetic voice, then it is the yeast that makes the loaf rise. We who are Christians aren’t called to be the whole of the world. We are asked to call the world to Christ. When we confuse the roles we begin to lose sight of who is supposed to be our Lord. We get so involved with getting the power to achieve our agenda, that we forget our agenda in favor of gaining power..

The problem that evangelicals and fundamentalists have had recently is that they have begun to identify one political party and one or two candidates with God. Liberals have done the same on occasion. Every Christian group has made that mistake and I suspect we will continue to do so. And that’s why we must continue to think how can we influence and speak to the powers of this world without being seduced by the idea of being powerful.

Micah 6:8 has a little summary of what we should do. What does the Lord require? The answer is to seek justice, love mercy and walk humbly with our God. It’s not to sit in the seats of the powerful, to have the place of honor at the banquet, and to be sought by the paparazzi. It’s not to say, as did James Dobson, "The only vote a Christian can cast is for a pro-life Republican." (I’ve been unable to remember where I saw this so don’t have a citation. I’ll keep looking.)

“How do we remain in the world but not of the world?’ is probably the question we should be asking. When we do this we don’t get trapped into admiring the trappings of power and prestige. We don’t get seduced by being welcomed by the powerful and wealthy. We start to ask at what price wealth, at what cost privilege, what do we give up in faith to gain access and the view is completely different.

For Christians the world should be turned upside down. The halls of power are not our birthright; instead we should be born into washing the feet of those in need. The seats of honor are not our chairs, instead it we should be on our knee scrubbing the floor with those who serve. We are those who sell what we have that we may help the poor rather working to accumulate possessions and wealth. We are called to influence the rulers of this world by our actions and prophetic calls rather than to work to become a ruler of this world.

We should work to influence the world, but not be a part of this world. We are called to be a prophetic voice that encourages corrective actions rather than those who set the laws. Yes some of us may be amongst those who rule and those who are wealthy, but those of us who are placed in that position should be working so that we have the corrective voice ever-present in our lives so that we are not seduced by that power and privilege.

And it is seductive. Oh, if only I had power I could fix this and prevent that. Oh with wealth I could help so many more people. And those things are true. The problem is that we make compromises to get power and gain wealth. If we go in with our eyes wide open about the goal and the compromises we can walk through the fire. But if we go in thinking we will get there without having to compromise one jot or tittle, then we’ll start fooling ourselves as we gain power and wealth. And in that fooling ourselves then our goals become confused and lose sight of where we are called.

No comments: