It’s Time to Remember What Politicians Cannot Do

In this season of high hopes and deep despair, of utopian dreams and dystopian fears, let us remember that there is only one Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He is the only one who rules by divine right, and he is the only one who can save us from our deepest problems. So, I want to speak today about the limits of politics—not the limits of a particular party or political philosophy but the limits of any possible political order. In this post, I will not be advocating for any party, philosophy or human person. I simply want to ask Christian people to take their confession seriously: Jesus is Lord and Savior. Jesus alone!

People look to the political dimension of society to provide order, justice and prosperity. We can imagine having order without justice and a just order without prosperity. But we want all three. Hence politicians defend their own leadership abilities, theories and policies as the best means to the optimum balance between these three values. Hardly anyone expects politicians of any party to create perfect order, justice and prosperity or even the ideal balance among them. Most people know they must settle for what they believe is the best of those imperfect systems.

But let us assume that a utopian state is possible and that your favorite politicians can bring that state into being. Your society is efficiently ordered, and peace dominates. Everyone is treated fairly, and prosperity extends to all levels of the society.  What then? Can the president forgive your sins? Can your senator raise you from the dead? Can the congress decree that you will inherit eternal life? Politicians cannot create the world or make sure that everything that happens to you works out for your eternal good. No state can guarantee your human dignity or assure you that you exist for a reason. The government cannot make sure that you are loved and have the courage to love in return. No politician can give your life ultimate meaning or give you true and lasting happiness. Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior. There is no other.

Now let us assume, on the other hand, that your worst political nightmare comes true. The worst people and worst party come to power, and your dystopian fears become reality. Injustice reigns, order serves the interest of only a few and prosperity eludes the majority. Perhaps dissenters and critics of the new order are persecuted. What then? Can the president make you unhappy? Can poverty erase the image of God in which you are made? Can being treated unjustly make you unjust? The state cannot keep you from loving your enemies and your friends. The senate cannot rob you of God’s love. Nor can congress withhold divine forgiveness or invoke divine judgment. Can politicians prevent God from working all things to our eternal good? Can death or persecution separate us from the love of God? Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior. There is no other.

Hence let us have a sense of proportion in this season of debate and decision. The best outcome cannot bring salvation to your house and the worst cannot assign you to perdition. Let us not seek from ourselves what only God can provide. Instead, let us treat politics as what it is: it is a means of maximizing certain worldly goods. Worldly goods! Not heavenly treasures! There is nothing sinful about wishing to enjoy and use worldly goods unless we begin to love and worship them and lose perspective on their true value. Putting too much stock in politics may indicate that we have lost hope in the real Savior and have given up trusting in the true Lord. Or it may indicate that we have grown to love the world. John gives a warning apropos to our time:

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world (1 John 2:15-16).

And Jesus, our true Lord and only Savior, reminds us of the One we should fear:

“I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him” (Luke 12:4-5)

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11 thoughts on “It’s Time to Remember What Politicians Cannot Do

  1. Rich constant

    What’s interesting run is God’s justice and righteousness can be looked upon as a plumb bob,
    And it’s a plumb-bob of faithfulness.
    Faithfulness is the string that god holds, might be better to say a righteous faithfulness.
    And Jesus the Messiah is The Rock that God connected that string that god holds and I could go so far as to say that the string is the Holy Spirit that gives life to all of those who want to look for righteousness and Justice and faithfulness to God it is the gospel the power of God unto salvation for all those that believe what Christ is the king and he has come in power through the Holy Spirit and will not be moved.

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  2. falonopsahl

    The amount of fanaticism that evangelical Christians express toward some of the political candidates during this election season is frustrating to watch, as they are seriously damaging their witness — our witness — and placing hope in that which isn’t Jesus. On the other hand, I’m guilty of putting too much weight in it too: I hear crowds cheering for the racist, sexist, narcissistic, egotistical, violent rhetoric, and my heart quickens in fear for the safety of this country’s citizens, and the polarization and hate that I fear will and do characterize the nation. At the colloquium on Thursday, I mentioned in the prayer for God to remind us to keep our eyes on the promises God has made us, because only those offer restoration and redemption. It’s a prayer I constantly have to pray during this time in our country, because I want to care for the world — but there is no reason to be afraid of it, even if the very worst happened.

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  3. Sara Hope

    Very timely post. It is easy to get wrapped up in worldly affairs and begin speaking, and believing, as though our hope truly rests in a political figure. This is worsened I think by the level of religious motivation that is attached to political opinions. We need to remember our allegiance to a Kingdom not of this world.

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  4. nokareon

    “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s; give to God what is God’s.”

    In His Incarnation, Jesus fastidiously stayed out of the political controversies embroiling in the Israeli climate, though it would have taken little more than a word from him to spark a campaign or movement for what would seem like much-needed, immediate, political change. Yet that is precisely what we see that He does *not* do.

    Likewise, Paul, himself a Roman citizen, could have easily politicized the Christian message as he took it through the Roman empire. Yet we see him admonishing his churches time and time again to obey the political leaders as appointed by God, even as they persecuted Christians to the point of death. I’m sure that is far worse than any dystopian outcome that we dream up happening in the 4-8 years that one president or another holds office in the United States.

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  5. mac

    I loved the relevance of this post to the election season. More recently I have begun exploring the relationship between christianity and politics and I have struggled to find a satisfactory answer. I am particularly interested in the questions “should a Christian be a pacifist?” and “should a Christian vote to legalize gay marriage?” At what point should a christian faith inform my responsibility a citizen of the United states, and perhaps one day as a politician.

    Is a Christian’s ideal government the church? Should we want everything to resemble the Church, or can we on biblical grounds maintain the dichotomy. I find it a problem to see the ideal government as resembling the church because how would incarceration/punishment operate?

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  6. rich

    to sum up all that I have said on this blog of Ron’s to date…
    the question becomes?
    what IS the TRINITY’S idea of GRACE?
    🙂

    I guess I would call the Cross of Jesus, in defeating Satan The Deceiver.
    The Trinity’s Art of War!
    God gave the deceiver the power over death. And HE is now on the brink of Destruction because of life. God being faithful do his words given by the prophets of the resurrection of THE Faithful Promised Seed. through the Power OF The LIFE GIVING SPIRIT,
    Who cleanses the temple of God of all evil. so doing through his life’s blood. We see a New Covenant of righteous faithfulness, through the faithfulness of the trinity, in doing so reconciling all that believe the words of THE FATHER given to the prophets and those that are faithful and attempt to do good, by loving God and loving their neighbors.
    Who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their life.
    ( and because of this Deliverance Through Blood and faithfulness)
    The trinity is now able to show or expose through the words their righteousness by passing over the send previously committed.
    And being the just and the justifier of the one who is the faith of the Messiah.
    Thus ushering in the restoration of all creation Covenant of Love through faithfulness the trinity’s work of salvation.

    So what is this Art of War,
    THIS
    Asymmetrical Counterintuitive Art of War!
    The perfect law of Liberty?
    Love!
    1st Corinthians 1:17-31

    The Art of God’s of War
    Hebrews 2:14-15

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  7. mmccay1982

    I also believe that mortal governance cannot give us the promises of God, and cannot take any of them away either. There is however a great deal of unnecessary suffering within the power of our leaders, suffering that I believe requires a Christian who loves their neighbor to consider. Oligarchy, the most common and inhumane form of government throughout human history can be a powerful engine for that suffering.

    Outstanding reflection. I’m careful what I share across my social networks, and only share sparingly. This is an important reflection in this season for our country.

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  8. Pingback: Weekly Roundup: March 20, 2016 | Healthy Theology

  9. McKayla Rosen

    “I simply want to ask Christian people to take their confession seriously: Jesus is Lord and Savior. Jesus alone!” Yes! This is what Christians need to be posting on Facebook, not carelessly phrased political views.

    This is good!: “Putting too much stock in politics may indicate that we have lost hope in the real Savior and have given up trusting in the true Lord. Or it may indicate that we have grown to love the world.”

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