It seems like politics has come to dominate our lives, but is politics after all the end-all-be-all of life?
Hi, I’m Rex Rogers and this is episode #8 of Discerning What Is Best, a podcast applying unchanging biblical principles in a rapidly changing world, and a Christian worldview to current issues and everyday life.
It is now virtually impossible in the U.S.A to make a statement—about almost anything—without someone assigning it political or partisan or ideological bias or intention.
In other words, everything is politics.
In one sense, this is true if you define politics as the “art of the possible,” the continual effort through negotiated interaction to make decisions and propel progress.
But politics that is government and public policy, not so much. Politics is not everything.
In other words, there’s more that matters in life than politics, whether everyday negotiated interaction or the process of government and public policy.
But it’s the latter that seems to have taken over our culture.
Even as we continue to walk through the pandemic, too often, common sense, health and medical counsel, and spiritual perspectives are set aside for the all-knowing god called Politics.
In Scripture, “Jesus said to them, ‘Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s’” (Mark 12:17).
This we do because God created government for our good: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore, whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad…”
And then the Apostle Paul gets down to brass tacks, saying: “Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed” (Romans 13:1-7).
That said, the Bible also says, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).
So, we honor, and we render to Caesar what is due, but we render to God the things that are God’s. It is our responsibility as Christians to discern the difference.
While giving honor to those in authority, the American people’s tendency has been to build up our leaders to bigger-than-life positions, to look upon them as virtual saviors. This tendency to overstate political leaders’ capacity to solve our problems has increased in the early 21st Century, at least in terms of partisanship or, increasingly, ideology. In so doing we’ve become more divisive, that is,” My man or woman is our ‘savior’ but yours is the ‘devil.’”
There’s no middle ground now. You’re for us or against us. You’re a patriot or a traitor. Our favorite political leader is going to take us to the Promised Land. Yours would lead us, well, to Hell on earth.
Meanwhile the Bible says, “Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish” (Psalm 146:3).
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We’d do well to remember that political leaders have a shelf-life. They are but finite human beings with all the wonders, faults, and shortcomings this entails. Sooner or later, they all will fail us.
Politics is important, but politics is not the end-all-be-all of life.
In his book Last Call for Liberty: How America’s Genius for Freedom has Become Its Greatest Threat, the Christian scholar and social commentator Os Guinness said, “The first thing to say about politics is that politics is not the first thing.”
Politics is not the sum total of our existence. Sure, some of our challenges require political solutions, but for the most part, politics is downstream from culture and society.
What happens in politics is a reflection or extension of what’s happening in culture and society. By far, most of our personal and social problems today are not political but spiritual.
The solutions we require, therefore, lie not in political policies but within our understanding of God, what he says about human beings and the reality he created and defined, and our willingness to acknowledge his truth.
Americans’ freedom and well-being have never depended simply upon leaders or politics.
Our freedoms and our wellbeing depend upon ideals:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
The Declaration of Independence is not Holy Scripture, but it is an incredibly well-worded, prescient document that set down ideals in 1776 for this “First New Nation.”
The United States of America is an experiment in self-governance. It is different from any other on earth, what’s called American exceptionalism. This is not an arrogant claim to better-than-thou but a recognition that no other nation was built upon not government-given but God-given human rights. For more than two hundred years, with adjustments, the American system has worked amazingly well.
One of the keys to its success has been a confidence in people, individuals free to live out their faith in God, to live according to his principles, and to exercise the talents he granted us.
Our freedom has not come from politics or politicians or partisanship or ideology as such. It comes from our Sovereign God, who entrusted us to maintain it. To take freedom and well-being deeper into this century, this wise perspective needs to be rediscovered.
Everything may be politics in a broad sense. But politics is most assuredly not everything.
Well, we’ll see you again soon. For more Christian commentary, be sure to subscribe to this podcast, Discerning What Is Best, or check my website, r-e-x-m as in Martin, that’s rexmrogers.com. And remember, it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm.
© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2022
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