OUR POLITICS IS IN HEAVEN
OUR POLITICS IS IN HEAVEN
I chose the title above to get your attention. It comes pretty close to describing what I want to say in my column this week, but I will need to explain more. Philippians 3:20 (NIV translation) says, “ but our citizenship is in heaven and we await a savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Our citizenship is in heaven! The Greek word in this verse which is translated “citizenship” is actually “politeuma” which is related to the English word, politics. The English word politics comes from the Greek word “polis” which means city or city state. Politics has to do with our government, and in the case of a democracy, how we select the rulers of our cities and nation.
Paul in Philippians 3:20 is saying something radical. He is saying that we are governed from heaven! God is our ruler. He is king. He is not elected! And our real citizenship is in heaven with Him, not here. If we are Christians (citizens of heaven according to Philippians 3:20) political leaders (like Donald Trump, Nancy Pelosi, and Mitch McConnell), while due our respect, are not our real leaders—God is!
One of the things that really bothers me is when Christians on this earth (whose King is God) allow worldly and earthly political issues to divide us from other Christians! Ephesians 2:14 says: “For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us.” So, the Bible says that when Jesus shed his blood and died on the cross for us, he broke down the walls of hostility which separate us!
Not only is our country terribly divided; but we frequently see the same divisions among Christians! Let me give an imaginary example of two Christians who have radically different views on a controversial political issue—let’s say gun control. Doesn’t the blood of Jesus unite them? Yes, according to Ephesians 2:14. But do they live out that unity? Perhaps not.
Let’s pretend we are those two Christians. Suppose you are a Christian who is strongly in favor of the right to bear arms under our American Constitution. Maybe you have a veritable arsenal of weapons in your home. As I understand it, if you’re not a felon or mentally unstable, having those weapons is your right currently in the United States. (Unless God tells you not to exercise that right)
Now suppose on the other hand that you are a Christian who is for gun control. You don’t choose to own weapons, and you would like to amend the Constitution (or have the courts interpret it differently) so as to drastically restrict gun ownership. Having no weapons and advocating gun control is also your right. (Unless God tells you not to exercise that right)
Now here is what deeply disturbs me. Suppose the two of you, both Christians, allow this issue to divide you from each other! You become hostile to each other even though you are brothers (or sisters) in Christ. For Christians this is unacceptable! Our citizenship is in heaven, and our politics is in heaven and yet you both allow this worldly/earthly/temporary/fading issue to divide you from another Christian for whom Christ died!
Do you realize what you have done? You are united to all other Christians by the blood of Christ, but you have allowed a fleshly, worldly, earthly, temporary political issue, gun ownership versus banning guns, to be more important than the precious blood of Jesus Christ which was shed for your unity with that other Christian and which was shed for you eternal salvation!
Sure political issues are of some importance, but are guns, or the lack of them, really more important to you than the blood of Jesus Christ? If you put the Son of God above all else, and if his blood unites you to that other Christian, how can you possibly let any political issue divide those whom Christ died to unite? Stand up for your position, but do not let it divide you from Christians on the other side of the issue. Refuse any hostility between you.
Have you made an idol either out of gun ownership, or out of gun control (or out of some other political issue)? I agree these may be important issues, but they belong to a fading and temporary earthly politics. They will pass away. They are not a part of the Politics of Heaven! Don’t let them divide you from brothers and sisters for whom Christ died. Let Jesus unify you though you are quite different. It is what he does. It is what his blood does.
Winfield Casey Jones is a retired pastor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org