Words by Jesse Hove
The core of being an Evangelical is sharing the Good News that Jesus Christ has died and risen for our salvation, both today and in eternity. No matter what you were, or who you are now, Christ has saved you, and He is the key to all things.
Yet, today Evangelicalism has become more associated with our political self-preservation than declaring the Good News of Jesus Christ. In an increasingly secularized world we are willing to champion anyone who claims to protect our values. As an example, Evangelicals in America have boasted Donald Trump as a type of King David figure, while forgetting that Jesus offers us so much more than a corrupt earthly Kingdom.
The prophet Samuel warns us that earthly kings will use us, abuse us, and in the end only let us down. They will take our sons and daughters and put them on the front line of their made-up wars, they will make us work menial jobs and will take the goods and resources we harvest for their own gain. “He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses” and will “take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his people.” In the end all of us will become slaves of the earthy king (1 Samuel 8:11-18).
God has never intended us to have power in this world. We are meant to be within, but not of, the societal power structures that exist around us. This is why Jesus tells us to “give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and give back to God what is God’s.” The Apostle Paul tells us that when we read Scripture through the lens of earthly power and protectionism “a veil” will still remain and we will be living in a “ministry of death” (2 Corinthians 3). Paul knows this folly all too well, before becoming a Christian he was willing to murder Christians for the sake of protecting traditional Jewish law and practice (Acts 9).
Rather, when we read Scripture we are called to read through the lens of Jesus. The veil that blocks the truth of Scripture, “has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away” (2 Corinthians 3:14). When we read Scripture through the lens of Jesus, The Spirit of Lord will be with us, and “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Corinthians 3:17).
The early Church was not focused on security for their nation, religious protectionism, or holding onto traditional values. Until the rise of Christendom, Christians were not willing to make political concessions to evil men for the protection of their own values. Rather, their willingness to be persecuted and die for the sake of the gospel exemplified Christian practice and grew the early Church.
When searching for examples of Christian practice to follow in our world today do not look to those who seek to bring Church and State together under one societal power structure. They are likely to have become corrupted by the societal power structure itself. Rather, look to the global Christians who exist underneath the power structures, and are willing to die for sake of the gospel.