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Can the Kingdom ever come through our engagement in politics?

by Chris Surber

RenderingWhat is the central mission of the individual Christian? What is the central mission of the Church? How can any person be effective at any thing if they fail to identify with clarity their central mission? A lot of believers today are living as though their central mission was to purify society – to somehow inaugurate the Kingdom through our effort in this world. But it is it?
Can the Kingdom ever come through our engagement in politics?
In Romans 8:19-23 the Apostle Paul writes,
For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (ESV)
I hate to be a pessimist, but the simple answer is no. The Scripture makes it pretty clear in this passage that the world is an agony because of the curse of sin and even though we have the Holy Spirit in us, we are in agony in this groaning world, too. What is inside of us is a foretaste of future glory that will only be inaugurated when Christ returns.
I remember when I was in the ninth grade and on the journey of faith. A discussion arose in my social studies class about making the world a better place. In typical adolescent fashion, most of the class droned on with idealistic, inexperienced, enthusiastic rabble. I added my thoughts saying that the world is corrupt. The world is full of corrupt people. The world will always be corrupt until Jesus returns to establish His Kingdom in fullness and recreate this world.
I can remember the teacher’s words perfectly. “I’ve never met anyone as articulately cynical as you and you’re only fourteen.” My response? (After I asked him the definition of cynical…) “I’m not cynical. I’m hopeful about Christ’s return and realistic about what I’ve seen in the world.” There is no hope in politics. I’m not saying that Christians can’t make efforts to influence the political process. I’m saying that it cannot be a central or even a closely guarded interest of the Church or of individual Christians.
Pray for your nation, vote, even run for an office, but be very careful about guarding your heart that it is not corrupted by a false hope in a fading world.
In my book, Rendering Unto Caesar, I wrote, “Battle axes don’t belong on harvest fields. Sadly, many Christians today approach the spiritual battles that wage all around us in our land and in the world from a purely worldly vantage point. As a result, we are losing the wars.” The Kingdom of God is today a spiritual Kingdom whose primary influence is through spiritual battles, evangelism, and Christ-like witness in the world. (Acts 1:8, Ephesians 6:10-20, I Peter 2:12)
The Kingdom will come in fullness when Christ comes in flesh. Guard your hearts from the corrupting influence of evil men concerned more with worldly kingdoms than godly influence.

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  1. Thank you for this. The struggle is how to replace those battle axes with farming tools that will bring about the harvest.

    1. It can be hard but there are some really practical ways. The key is for churches and individual Christians to stop viewing the Kingdom as some kind of movement in this world and view theirs lives as transcending this world.
      Gary Habermas at Liberty University calls it “Top Down Thinking.” We need to adjust our view of this life as seen through the lens of eternity rather than eternity as a punctuation mark to this life.

  2. I sometimes hear that giving up the battle axes is abandoning evangelism. Not at all! It’s going to more effective methods! It’s abandoning the tools of the enemy.

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