By Jeff Campbell
Like so many people, I wrestle with questions about what to do and how to live. One of the areas that I struggle with is politics. Recently, I’ve earned some clarity on this matter. This clarity has resulted from two inter-related realizations.
Once, God was his people’s king.
This is not hyperbole, nor is it symbolic. Once, God was his people’s king. God lead his people in a real and political sense. But we, his people, derailed this plan. We demanded a human king. God warned us what would happen. He told us what would happen to our children. He spoke of wars, enslavement, and corruption. His warnings, of course, were accurate ones. The pain and misery that resulted from Israel’s desire to be like other nations was enormous. And despite wisdom sent from God and a relationship with The Creator that is unique in world history, things fell apart.
We tend to think that this is irrelevant history or perhaps the history of some people far different from ourselves. But I think that we would do well to realize that it is a pressing and brutal element of the reality that we still live in: God planned on leading his people.
Adopting the world’s political systems lead to despair and loss. Unfortunately, its too late to change this. Just as we cannot go back to Adam and Eve and beg them not to eat the fruit, so also we can not go back to Ancient Israel and say to the people “No, you really don’t want to go down this path. Leave God in place as your king.”
We find ourselves in a world where our only option is to live beneath political structures created by men. Some systems are going to be worse than others. Despite our situation, we are called on to be peace-makers. We are reminded that God is a God of justice and love. We don’t have the luxury of dropping out and giving up. In order to do this, though, we need to give some beliefs up. We need to give up on the possibility of a political solution. The left won’t lead us back to Eden, but neither will the right or the center. If they did, we would be faced with a flaming sword. It doesn’t matter how many people positioned in all the right places with all the right beliefs we end up with. Things will still be a mess.
Jesus Didn’t Care About the World’s Politics
Jesus entered a world that had already shunned God’s political plans for it. While his words and actions often had profoundly political ramifications, he didn’t seem to care what the world said about politics. One of my favorite things about the Gospels is Jesus’ way of becoming larger than the world’s super power at the time.
He accomplished this largeness through many different method, but the biggest one was that He simply did His thing: for him, it didn’t matter whether he was operating in the political sphere, the personal sphere, or anywhere between. You can almost imagine him smirking at a Roman Soldier: “Oh you? I’d almost forgotten about who you work for… You’re the representative of those silly little men who think they run things around here.”
Living with the awareness that we turned our backs on God’s planned political system is only the beginning. Perhaps recognizing that Jesus is bigger than our categories is our next goal. Most of all, we need to be asking the right questions. That may only be a step, but at least it’s a step in the right direction.
Jeff’s life was Wrecked for the Ordinary when Christ entered his life about 6 years ago, through the unfailing witness of an amazing wife and a great church. He serves and learns from students with emotional disturbance as a Special Education Teacher and is involved with Small Groups Ministry. He also has deep thoughts.