Something stirs in my spirit every time I read these words. And, when I read my newspaper, and watch the news, there is a part of me that just want to “do something” about the world we live in. So, I pray. I pray for my leaders and those in authority. I talk to men and women about their relationship with Jesus. Quite a few of them give their hearts and lives to Him. But what I do doesn’t seem fast enough. I get impatient. I wish I
could do more and do it faster.
I guess that’s sort of what Jesus’ disciples felt when they saw how the world was treating Jesus. They wanted to pick up their swords and fight. Then, I realize that Jesus spoke these words to a politician – a government official. One who had the power to make drastic changes in the course of history! Jesus had SUCH an opportunity. And notice how He used it. He didn’t even make an attempt to reform the laws of that death – dealing society. WHEN I READ THINGS LIKE THIS, IT MAKES ME WANT TO WEEP FOR HOW LITTLE I KNOW JESUS AND HIS WAYS OF DOING THE FATHER’S WORK!
Early in Jesus’ ministry, Satan tried unsuccessfully to bring about the downfall of Jesus Christ by offering Him all the kingdoms of this world. Jesus spurned Satan’s offer flat out. Satan never again was foolish enough to try to get Jesus to use this world’s systems and methods to accomplish the Father’s work.
But, Satan knows enough about the rest of the human race to know that WE have a built-in weakness to want to wield power and influence in the halls of the politicians, even at the expense of personal prayer and our devotional lives before the throne of God.
Satan offered Jesus the kingdoms of this world as the arena for doing His spiritual work; the work of bringing salvation to the lost. Satan actually WANTED Jesus to have access to the kingdoms of this world. To be able to use political and financial power to accomplish Jesus’ mission from the Father. And Jesus didn’t even have to think twice. He didn’t blink nor flinch. Jesus knew that there is nothing worth fighting for in this world’s kingdom. What Jesus saw in this world’s system revolted Him. He wanted no part of it…in any form!
Jesus saw what those in the flesh can’t see. He saw that even at its best, this world’s system is corrupted and beyond redemption. Only the INHABITANTS of this world are redeemable. So, Jesus spent His ministry reaching out to the lost and the dying inhabitants of the world. He loved them.
Jesus didn’t spend even five minutes drafting legislation, organizing a protest or trying to shut down the bard and the taverns. He simply spent Himself in showing them the lostness of being lost, and offering them eternal salvation. And, HE DIED for them. He didn’t want their corrupt system at all…not even in a cleaned up, polished and polite form. He just wanted people to come to the Father and be saved.
Jesus saw that even at it’s best, this world and it’s systems are corrupt, condemned and decaying. And, somehow, even with the Bible as a guidebook and the records of history for our admonition, the church in every generation has been allured by the kingdoms of this world. Each generation wants to turn from spiritual reform to legislative reform. Jumping right in with this world’s barterers of power and influence, God’s spokesmen have clamored for positions of worldly recognition. These misguided shepherds have tried in vain to clean up a hog and turn it into a sheep; To turn the world into a church… “for the glory of God,” as long as they get the recognition and credit!
God tells His people to pray for their leaders and those in authority. We so readily criticize our leaders and those in authority. We forget that promotion cometh from the Lord and that the government is upon His shoulders. Elected officials do not direct the destiny of a nation. They never have. God Almighty in Heaven directs the affairs of the sons of men – He is sovereign.
Instead of using the God-given methods of prayer, intercession and evangelism we’ve been suckered into trying to do God’s spiritual work by avoiding the spiritual…and turning to carnal means. We’ve tried voting, having boycotts, picketed, chanted, sued and even threatened. And still, revival hasn’t ONCE in history been brought about by such things. We’re guilty of going after Goliath with pea shooters. And we wonder why the God of Heaven hasn’t responded to our pressure groups and legislation.
And, like in every previous generation, the church is once again sidetracked and distracted from it’s primary job: prayer, evangelism, discipleship and worship. We focus on what the devil is doing and minimize what God has done. We concentrate on the works of darkness and we are blinded to the Light. We try to control instead convert men and women to the Way, the truth and the Light.
The world system that Jesus refused involvement in is now being hotly pursued by His followers, as though worldly power is a prize to be valued and admired. Even men of God are charmed by every of offer of worldly power, glory and influence. What Jesus coldly rejected without more than a sentence, multitudes of His ministers lust to get a chance to have an audience in.
Even if we have to pretend that it has always been this way, we don’t mind playing the game. We’ll exalt as model Christians men and women from other generations whom we KNOW from history were not godly. It doesn’t seem to trouble us one bit to identify with slave holders, adulterers and members of secret societies. We’ll call them born again servants of Jesus Christ. And challenge the world to follow our lead as we follow in the footsteps of these unregenerate politicians.
Who doesn’t remember from high school History class that Ben Franklin died of syphilis; or that Thomas Jefferson was a slave holder who fathered six illegitimate children by his black mistress? Do we forget that Jefferson said that a Black American was only 3/5 of a person? Five Black votes under his system would equal three votes of white people. Do we think that the rest of the public forgets that the public school system was never intended for Black Americans? That it was a punishable crime to teach a Black American to read or write?
Many of us teach that it’s incompatible for a born again Believer to hold memberships in secret societies like the Masons. Yet, a majority of the founding fathers were high ranking members of their Masonic temples. What could be wrong with us, that we openly hold up before the world’s people and say, “We want to have America return to the values that these men espoused?”
Yet, we unashamedly do this very thing. We don’t seem to let the whole truth trouble us, as long as there’s a chance that people will reward us with titles and recognition. The problem with dishonesty is that it’s contagious. It’s the reason we present ourselves as being a bigger group than we really are. We’ll speak of our large constituency. Even though we KNOW we’re being less than honest.
The old deception that Jesus shunned is being lusted after by evangelical church leaders today. The same Christian soldiers who can see the enemy so clearly when he’s to them in Christian “politically correct” attire – to lure them onto his own playing field. He knows that the children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of the Light. And, he knows how badly we crave acceptance and worldly power. We’re willing to commit moral, intellectual and spiritual suicide to get it.
We’re willing to fight a war to accomplish that which Jesus Christ Himself never felt was a pursuit worthy of His time or interest. It isn’t that what we’re fighting for doesn’t seem noble. At first glance, it DOES seem noble. And right. Plus, it IS challenging…and offers more ego-gratification than does winning genuine victories by prayer and intercession. The sad thing is that we don’t see the hollowness of thinking that the world system can be made uncorrupted by legislative changes and restrictions imposed on worldly business practices.
We can so easily become blind leaders of the blind who believe that the world could be o.k., if we could just clean it up a little bit. We can feel like Christians shouldn’t be of this world, unless we can make it a little more respectable, and a lot more under our control.
The very system that Jesus scorned is now being mixed in with (and in some cases replacing) the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the pulpits of those who feel compelled to preach the social Gospel. Instead of ministering to lost men and women, too many of us as ministers of Jesus Christ are attempting to save a corrupt and irredeemable world system. The exact system that Jesus held in contempt is now being preached from His pulpits.
Ministers once were content to preach the life changing Gospel of Jesus Christ. We left the social and political commentating to socialites and politicians. Now, we want to bask in the limelight, too. Even if it means that we spend more time in the newspapers than we do in the Word of God. Even if it means that our sermons become a sociopolitical commentary with an alter call at the end…if there’s enough time!
We act as though Jesus needed someone in a high position to represent Him to the systems of the World – someone to whisper a reforming word into the ears of Pontius Pilate on Jesus’ behalf. We enjoy thinking that Jesus is pathetically searching for some well-written letters, or perhaps some cleverly worded legislation that can accomplish what His inspired Word hasn’t been able to do. We apparently doubt His ability to transform society by transforming individual lives; so we feel compelled to devote as much time as possible to learn the ins and outs of this world’s system, so we can sanctify what our Master expressed total disdain for.
Jesus spurned this world’s methods. We think He would like for us to clean them up so He can start using them to win His war against the prince of this world. The truth about our relationship to this world is this: We LOVE it. So, we try to educate it, inject it with middle-class values, and harness it for our own sense of power. We’re desperate for a sense of control and security in this world.
We want so badly to “Christianize” and make presentable the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. If we could just get swine to bleat like sheep! If we could just get hogs to live like sheep. Then, we wouldn’t feel so much like they’re not sheep at all. We wouldn’t feel like our mandate from the Lord to go into all the world and preach the GOSPEL was being neglected. (And, we wouldn’t sense the need to represent ourselves as something other than what we really are: miserable, wretched, poor and blind.)
We pray for revival, and wonder why God doesn’t just pour it out on us. But we’re forgetting that attempting to spiritualize something that is inherently opposed to spirituality is an attempt and has just as repeatedly failed demonstrably throughout the history of the church. Societal reform has never been a substitute for genuine Heaven-sent revival. God is still a jealous God. And it’s quite possible that He’s becoming more and more jealous as we grow more and more in touch with Washington’s way of doing things and more and more OUT of touch with Heaven’s ways.
Jesus never called or commissioned us to the ministry of converting the systems and politics of this world. He never sent His disciples to fight the battles of this world. He hasn’t commanded us to go into all the world preaching political reform. He never admonished us to do His spiritual work by linking arms with unbelievers and picketing the institutions of this world. We don’t win the world to Jesus Christ by trying to reform it. It’s spiritual work and it’s done in the spiritual realm, by spiritual men and women using spiritual weapons.
This isn’t a popular message, and isn’t intended to make me popular. It is simply an outpouring from my heart, after many hours of soul searching and after much time in tears and repentance before the throne of God. It isn’t intended as a denunciation, but as a fuel for meditation and reflection. In no way is it an attack on any individual, but it IS an attack on a hellish distraction that is so very attractive yet is so deadly.
If it helps even one of my brothers or sisters in the ministry of the Gospel to repent and return to our first love, any misunderstanding or rejection I face will have been worth it.