If you have kids, or if you ever were one, I want you to think back, for a moment, to those horrible, er, I mean “fond”, teenage years.
You know, the rebellious moment’s of a child’s life. Think back on those times when you asked your children to do something they didn’t want to do. Maybe an argument ensued. Maybe eyes were rolled. Maybe fits were pitched. Perhaps a door or two was slammed.
And then, at your insistence, the unruly teen finally mowed the lawn, or cleaned their room, or did their homework. Let me ask you…did they perform the action with joy, or with great agitation? Were they willingly performing the action, or did they hate every moment of it? Did they thank you afterward, or did they resent you?
It’s likely the latter (unless you had some miracle spawn, in which case, congrats.)
You see, whenever we FORCE someone to comply with something, even if that something is potentially good for them, not only are we communicating to them that their autonomy and voice do not matter, we’re also taking away their choice to do the good thing on their own. We’re making them resent and despise the thing because they weren’t free to choose it on their own.
Choice is a powerful thing. I have some conservative friends, and have seen Christians all over the world, rejoice at the overturning of Roe v. Wade. But it’s not a time of rejoicing for me.
I’m thinking about women who have consistently, throughout history, been told directly and indirectly that their voices, choices, and control over their own bodies does not matter.
And I’m thinking about how dangerous it is for The Church to replace ministry with legislation.
Here’s what I mean: holiness (the state of being separated for use by God; the hallmark of any true Christian), cannot, and should not, be legislated.
You cannot force someone to be holy by imposing rules and regulations upon them. Holiness is a conversion that first takes place in the heart, then the mind, then the hands.
It begins with your heart; you know, that beating thing in your chest, but figuratively and scripturally, it’s the seat of your will, emotions, and personality.
Jesus was and is the very best at changing hearts. But how did he do it? By loving. “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
Jesus loved us first, and displayed his love for us by making the ultimate sacrifice on the Cross for our sins. By taking our place, he was effectively saying, “I love you this much.” And the incredible thing is, Christ knew not everyone would believe, not everyone would follow, not everyone would accept this gift. Yet he did it anyway. And he would’ve just as willingly done it had there only been a few of us willing to accept.
I fear that modern Christians, especially those who are politically conservative, have confused ministry and evangelism with politics. We were never called to legislate people into righteousness (right standing with God); we were, however, called to love people to Christ with truth and grace.
We are to model Christ’s example of love and kindness (“with love and kindness have I drawn thee” – Jeremiah 31:3), not the Mosaic or Levitical law (Romans, Galatians), and certainly not the laws of this or any other country.
The problem with forcing someone to do something, such as forcing them to keep a child they aren’t ready for or flat out don’t want, is that they will not do so joyfully because it is not willingly.
Thing is, God has never forced anyone to serve him. He has never forcibly converted anyone. God wants us to make the choice to trust him. He may prompt us in various ways, sending people in our path to share the Good News, or allowing circumstances that drive us to him, but he doesn’t bend your own will toward him. He will not make you choose him or his ways.
You remember that scene in Cars, when hot-shot Lightening McQueen must repave the small-town road he accidentally destroyed? The first attempt he makes is horrible. It’s crooked, bumpy, it’s a horrible road — he does a horrible job. But the second time, he paves it slow and steady, it’s smooth, perfect. What changed?
His motivation. The first time, he was forced. The second time, he did it willingly as a matter of pride. He wanted to prove he could do it, so he put a lot of effort and time into making it *just right*.
Now, salvation, or one’s personal relationship with God, aren’t the same as paving a road for community service. But there is a similarity here. Intention matters. You will never truly win anyone to Christ by forcing them to live Christ’s way. (Or what you *think* Christ’s way is. I say this because even Christians can’t agree on how God wants us to live — so how do any of us think we can legislate people into holiness?)
True enough, The Church is an administrative and governing body, which Christ gifted incredible authority and power to. But what is that power for? Is it to insert ourselves in politics, or is it to legislate the heavens, and by extension, the earth?
You see, there is a difference between “the world” and “the earth”. The world is the earth’s systems, created and run by humans (and wicked spiritual forces beyond what we can see). The earth “is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof, and those who dwell within” (Psalms 24:1). Christians are strictly told not to love the world, nor have fellowship with it — to do so is enmity with God himself (James 4:4).
Back to my original point. It breaks my heart and deeply angers me to see Christians meddling in politics trying to force people to comply with God’s ways. You are not winning any hearts. All you’re doing is creating strife, alienating and bringing to wrath the very people Christ has instructed us to lead to him.
In my fervent opinion…to be truly democratic means you can’t be Christian, and to be truly Christian, means you can’t be democratic. (This goes for literally any other religion).
Allow me to explain. True Christians are called to live in a state of dependence upon God; he is our supplier, our guide, our teacher, our final decision maker, and judge. It is him, his word, his ways, that guide every part of our lives. A theocracy. God is the president, and we are citizens of His kingdom. A democracy, in its truest sense, is governed by the will of the people. Being a Christian means denying your own will in favor of God’s. To prefer what he prefers.
Can you see how they’re incompatible? Now, there are those that will argue our nation is Christian and was founded on Christian principles, yada yada. That’s another post for another day. But how can you truly comply with the will of the people in good conscience when your values convict you the will of the people is wrong?
Am I a citizen of God, or a citizen of America first? I think one huge problem plaguing the American church today is we have confused patriotism with Christian virtue. We have confused American nationalism with Christian values. They are not the same. God, guns, and beer, is not the Apostle’s creed. But somehow, it’s become the epitome of faith in America. This should not be so.
If we follow the example of our Savior, while Jesus walked the earth, he never involved himself in the politics or legislation of man. He complied with local laws, as Paul also compelled us to do, but you never saw Jesus (or any of his disciples/apostles) showing up to city council meetings or running for office.
Jesus, along with the disciples, focused on heart-change. One person, one situation at a time. They rescued abandoned babies from “dashing” (a form of abortion from the day), they fed the homeless, they helped the widows and orphans, particularly those of the household of faith (other Christians).
I must stress to you, helping those in need, showing compassion or love and kindness, is not a special calling reserved for only *some* Christians; it’s on all of us. I recently heard that lacking kindness and compassion is not a sin. I strongly disagree. The word “sin” literally means “to miss the mark”. If we are not showing kindness and compassion, haven’t we missed Christ’s mark? Are we any better than the religious zealots that Jesus criticized?
On the other side of that coin, I will stress that today’s “social gospel”, that is, the newly popular idea that Jesus was just some social justice warrior, is flawed, too. The social justice focused gospel focuses on policy and change, and seems to show love to every marginalized group out there — except for the household of faith. Of the household of faith, it is critical and combative.
We have gotten away, all of us, from the true ministry of Christ — reconciliation.
We are ambassadors of this mission, not sent to argue and debate policies or laws, not to strip people of their God-given freedom to make choices that even He disagrees with, not to enslave people to a particular belief system or doctrine. We are here to love. We are here to serve. We are here to draw people to Christ by living and loving as he did.
That is not to say this ministry is without power or grit. We must stand tall and speak truth even when it is unpopular. I’ve never, and will never, say abortion (or anything else the Bible calls sin) is right. But I will say, and stand on the fact that it is not my place to take away someone’s choice, even if that choice is a sin.
It frustrates me so much that the very Christians who would condemn a woman for having an abortion, would condemn that same woman had she kept the child out of wedlock. We are asking a tremendous burden to be placed on people who don’t even believe what we believe. Tell me, would you die for something you believe in? How about something you don’t?
…How about living for it?
How does it make sense to force people to comply with Christian living when they are not Christian? How does it make sense to take someone who already doesn’t believe in God, and then say, “God requires you must do this thing you don’t want to do and don’t believe in.”
It’s counterproductive. You can’t legislate someone into serving God. It must be done from a free-will place of love. A grateful heart that has accepted Christ’s gift of salvation. Do you really think that’s going to happen by force? It didn’t work out too well for the Spanish Inquisition, nor did it work well during the Crusades, or the massive slaughter of Native American people killed during forced conversions in the settling of North America.
God does not want people brought to him in fetters and chains. He is in the business of breaking bondage, not creating it.
I fear that modern Christians have taken a cheap, sleazy route — trying to change policies to mimic Christian living and values, rather than trying to change hearts.
There will those who say Christians belong in politics. Sure, Christians belong in every space where decisions are being made. Christians belong in boardrooms, courtrooms, behind TV cameras, and everywhere else. But for the modern Church to involve itself and focus its efforts in an arena, a pastime of the world’s system — well, that’s sort of like trying to train a pig to fly. It won’t work, it can’t work, and it’s only going to agitate you *and* the pig.
If Christians really want to see change upon the earth, they would be better off spending time in prayer, self-examination, serving those in need, practicing kindness, love, and learning how to listen. Really listen.
The part of Jesus’ earthly ministry that makes it so spectacular to me, was how Jesus ministered to each person he encountered in such a personalized way. He had intimate knowledge from the Father about each one, and knew the exact correct approach in order to minister salvation to them.
We would do well to learn from our Savior’s example. You will never convert anyone to Christ by legislating them into submission. You will never change a heart by slapping handcuffs on it. The best way to change hearts is through relationship. Isn’t that what Jesus does with us?
Yes, there is a way we are called to live; a standard of holiness we are called to uphold. But today’s Christians remind me of the Pharisees Jesus scolded for tithing every tiny bit of their herbs, but refusing to show respect to their aging parents. You endeavor for the law, but the basic tenants of your faith, you neglect.
Yes, sin is rampant upon the earth. But you can’t stop it, no matter how many laws you put on the books. Or haven’t you forgotten? Murder is illegal, yet we murder people physically, emotionally, and spiritually every day. Theft is illegal under our carnal laws, yet people still steal, and some may never be caught or punished.
You will not delay or speed up Christ’s return by trying to legislate sin away. You will not draw others to him by policing their sin, rather than your own.
Galatians chapter 6. 1 Corinthians chapter 13. Literally any book of scripture written by John.
The Church needs to stop distracting itself with politics and start busying itself with becoming more like Christ.
Weep before you speak, think before you eat
Long Live the Champion by KB
How you love a country’s food more than its people?
‘Cause I think you hide behind your politics
You do not want answers, you want arguments
Yes, I love the kingdom more than I love my nation
Yes, I love my neighbor more than I love his papers
The early Church rolled with the punches; they didn’t concern themselves with the affairs of the world. When preaching Christ was outlawed and they were jailed and beaten for sharing their faith, they counted it as a joy. And kept on preaching!
It seems modern Christians are afraid of true persecution. How long do you think you can delay the inevitable with your lobbying? We are appointed to suffering for the name of Christ; it is our spiritual heritage. “If they hate you, remember, they hated Me first” (John 15:18).
It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict people of their sin; it is our job to teach and model the Truth with love. Woe unto us when we try to replace God with legislation. Or do you think petitions to courts are more powerful than prayerful petitions presented before the Living God?
I wonder if our meddling with politics is actually quenching the Spirit of God from having true reign upon the earth in the form of miracles, signs, and wonders. If we follow the example of the Early Church, our role in society is to live peacefully within whatever government or laws we are under. We do not bend the world to us, nor do we bend to it.
We exist within the world, but not part of it (John 17:15-17). We are guests, travelers passing through. We adapt, but never compromise.
This world is not our home. So why are modern Christians so bent on trying to make it more comfortable for themselves?
If we could legislate the world into agreeing with us, what is the point of Christ? If souls could be won by sheer force of will, what would the point of the Cross be? If the world is in agreement with Christianity, I would question the integrity of that “Christianity” – because the flesh is always opposed to the Spirit of God (Romans 8:7).
The worldly system is dominated by Satan. It will never agree with the will of God, no matter how many campaign dollars you spend or petitions you sign. The world is positioned and destined for depravity. Why fight laws instead of fighting for souls?
Perhaps politics are a distraction from Satan to bind the hands of Christians. So we’ll spend more time arguing and bucking the system, and less time winning souls for Christ.
I have many thoughts on this topic, but this post has already become a bit longer than I anticipated. I’ll leave you with this summary:
We are here to change hearts, not policies.