Friday, September 01, 2006

I Pledge Allegiance to What Kingdom?

As I have become obsessed with the idea that we Christians are a counterculture, I have become more aware of how much of the current Christian lingo is tied to politics. Some people today think one cannot be a Christian unless they are aligned with a particular American political party. Yet, I know people in both major political parties who walk with Jesus.

So, Yancey grabbed my attention with both hands yesterday. I assume you know how morally vile the Roman Empire of the 1st century was. Listen to Yancey:

"The apostle Paul had much to say about the immorality of individual church members but little to say about the immorality of pagan Rome. He rarely railed against the abuses in Rome -- slavery, idolatry, violent games, political oppression, greed -- even though such abuses surely offended Christians of that day as much as our deteriorating society offends Christians today."

He then mentions how Romans would give birth to full-term babies, and -- if undesired -- would leave them to die. He tells about the common practice of older men keeping young boys as sex slaves. Then he adds, "Jesus and Paul doubtless knew of these deplorable practices . . . Both concentrated not on the pagan kingdom around them but on the alternative kingdom of God."

"For this reason, I wonder about the enormous energy being devoted these days to restoring morality in the United States. Are we concentrating more on the kingdom of this world than on the kingdom that is not of this world? The public image of the evangelical church today is practically defined by an emphasis on two issues that Jesus did not even mention. How will we feel if historians of the future look back on the evangelical church of the 1990s and declare, "They fought bravely on the moral fronts of abortion and homosexual rights," while at the same time reporting that we did little to fulfill the Great Commission, and we did little to spread the aroma of grace in the world?"


jross said...

I just recently purchased 3 of Yancey's books. I have about 4 books going right now, but am looking forward to getting into this one. Is this from "What's So Amazing About Grace"?

Rick Ross said...

Yes, it is. It is a must-read!

Kyle R. said...

Right on and amen!!!

I generally vote along certain political lines and am thankful that I am given a voice in our government, but I serously doubt the Lord cares nearly as much how I line up on certain political issues as how I line up in His will for me. Check that-- I don't seriously doubt it,I know it.

The more of politics I see, the more I dislike it: on the federal, state, local and (oh yes, the church) levels.

We must pledge our allegiance to THE KINGDOM-- you know the one that will still be around when the Republican and Democratic parties are forgotten.:)

Kyle R. said...

As I re-read my post,when I saw the second paragraph, it made me think of a pop quiz:

In which of the following bodies does politics not belong?

a) the federal government
b) the state government
c) the local government
d) the church government

Kyle R. said...

It's really a trick pop quiz because the correct answer is
The church is not and was never meant to be an organization. It is a living organism. It is indeed a kingdom also with a KING! That is, it is a monarchy-- in which politics has no place.

Sorry for the rambling but you struck a nerve with me. :) :)

Liz Moore said...

Wow! What a great quote. It really makes you think. If we remembered what and who we are really here fighting for and fought with all our might, I bet some of those worldly issues would begin to be affected as well. Thanks for sharing!

Jeff said...

I'm a little bothered by Yancey's comments because I feel we must both teach of God's incredible love and awesome grace and the wages of sin. It disturbs me when he says we are focused on two things Jesus didn't mention. This is the argument made by homosexual churches and other groups that "if it isn't in red letters, it doesn't matter."

In our churches, it is probably safe to say we have avoided grace yet I have friends who tell me they are concerned with their community church because grace abounds yet little is said about changing your life to conform to Christ.

Churches, much like politics, too often swing from one extreme to the other when both have a place in the middle to help people. Of course, one can only help people here and today while the other offers a much, much, much greater offer of eternity with the King of all.

Rick Ross said...

This is the danger of taking a short quote. Yancey makes very clear that both abortion and homosexuality are sin. His point is that Jesus and Paul were more concerned about the church being a counter-culture than they were about "preaching" morals to the Roman empire. What will attract America is "the aroma of Christ" --not our political activism.

Thus, this is not like the argument homosexuals make about "red letters," etc.

Jeff said...

Having not read the book, it was my mistake to make the judgement I did on a short quote.

I agree that political activism can only be a tool to spread the saving message of Christ, not a focal point. Like all tools, one must be careful in it's use or the damage can be greater than the goal.

I really have enjoyed your use of the "counter-culture" term. For me, it puts a better perspective on what I should be. At the same time, it haunts me because rarely do I feel counter to the culture of today.