About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

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Politicizing Evangelicalism


From my perspective, western world Evangelical Christians are becoming more nationalistic in their world view.  This is seen in the popularization of the Christian Conservative Right, a political movement that emerged in the United States in the late 1970's with aspirations of restoring Biblical values that once influenced western culture.  In recent years this has led our secular media to redefine the word "evangelical."  It's no longer a theological term, but a social, cultural, and political term.  In other words, evangelicals are considered activists.  Is this how you as an evangelical wish to be viewed?    


Although the evangelical inroads into politics have their merits, they also have their pitfalls.  In explaining this I refer you to Genesis 12:1 where God told Abram to switch his national identity away from his cultural roots.  "Go from your country, your people and your father's household to a land I will show you."  Abram's primary allegiance was to be to God, not to his tribal nation, something the pagan prophet Balaam noted years later about the Jews.  "I see a people who live apart and who do not consider themselves as one of the nations" (Numbers 23:9).


The author of the book of Hebrews comments on Abraham's call to realign his national identity.  "By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went ... By faith he made his home in the promised land, like a stranger in a foreign country ... for he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder was God" (Hebrews 11:8 - 10).  Even though Abraham was living where God had led him, he considered himself to be a stranger and a foreigner.  His heart was set on another land, a city whose builder is God. 


The author of Hebrews continues by saying that Abraham, and others like him, "were looking for a country of their own ... they were longing for a better country - a heavenly one ... for He has prepared a city for them" (Hebrews 11:14 - 16).  The lesson to be learned from all of this is that as Christians, we are citizens of a heavenly kingdom whose arrival on earth in material form we eagerly anticipate. 


I understand the reason for nationalism, but when taken to an unbiblical extreme, it distracts us from our counter-cultural calling as aliens and strangers in a foreign land.  Our first allegiance is not to the nation in which we live but to the Kingdom of God.  So, let us not be so politically minded that we are of no heavenly use.                 

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