The American presidential election is less than two months away with tensions between the radically polarized parties rising to ever greater heights. This election may just be the most profound election in American history with freedom set at the center stage; one party representing a nationalistic approach that centers its underlying philosophy on that of smaller government, and the other party representing a globalized approach that centers its underlying philosophy on that of a large governmental role in the lives of individuals.
From a Christian perspective, it may seem difficult as to which group one must identify with as both parties have positioned themselves on the razor edge of radicalism. We have come to a point in our country’s social climate where people, both from the secular and religious sectors, glorify the party leaders as holy prophets and priests that will lead our society to ever greater heights. It seems now that Christians have become so entangled with the affairs of this life that they too have become victims of radical political ideologies, rather than the Spirit and Word of God.
“No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.”2 Timothy 2:4 nkjv
In the Christian community, we have become devote followers of mere men rather than that of Christ. We herald the proclamations and promises of governmental leaders rather than that of the words and promises of God. We have become possessed by the idea of identifying ourselves with political parties and our country rather than that of God and His Kingdom. We have come to idolize those in governmental positions rather than worshipping and glorifying God. We have become more offended by those that offend our reverend political leaders rather than those that offend Christ. What has went wrong in the Christian community? Have we truly missed the mark? What can we do to fix this issue?
In second Timothy chapter two verse four, Paul explicitly exhorts us, as faithful soldiers of Christ, to not entangle ourselves in the affairs of this life. The word entangle being used in the verse is the Greek word “empleko,” which means to inweave, to be involved with, to entangle ourselves. The word affairs in Greek is “pragmateia,” which means affairs, business, occupation, and pursuits that pertain to civil life.
A concise examination of this text, one can derive the notion that we are to abstain from involving ourselves with the affairs, or rather the secular patterns and systems. Does this mean we should not vote? No, it means we should partake in that which is necessary to maintain a properly functioning society, and yet doing so without becoming possessed by political ideologies and their concoctors.
The next key word found in the previous verse is that of warfare, which in the Greek is the word “strateuo,” meaning to make a military expedition, to be a soldier, be on active service. This idea of being soldiers of Christ can be found in the prior to this verse in verse three:
“You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”2 Timothy 2:3 nkjv
As Christians, we are called to fight the good fight as soldiers of Christ. We should therefore mimic somewhat of the life of a soldier by not becoming distracted by the affairs of this life, but rather centralizing our focus on Christ and His mission He has bestowed upon our lives. Does this mean that we should not pay attention to, or voice our concern for current matters embedded within society and culture? Absolutely not, as we are still called to be watchful and sober to the things occurring around us and their correlation with the end times and that of the return of Christ. A fine balance between that of paying attention to issues, and that of becoming possessed by them.
Lets look at the concept of warfare again as it is vitally important in understanding the implications of Paul’s admonition here. What warfare could he be referencing towards, precisely? Paul goes on to explain this warfare representation in his epistle to the Ephesians:
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”Ephesians 6:10-13 nkjv
Here we see Paul expressing the warfare that we are engaged as residing in and manifesting from the dark places nested within the higher dimensional realm. We are essentially engaged in a spiritual warfare that is only won in and through the power of the Holy Spirit working in our lives of which can only be accomplished by putting our trust in Christ, and not another. The only way in which we can win this daily battle is through prayer, and by standing firm in faith and proclaiming Christ to the lost, dark world around us, and again, not another.
By pay attention while not becoming distracted, and putting on the whole armor of God and centralizing our attention on the mission that Christ has bestowed upon us, we can become overcomers in a world of chaos. But, as soon as we become distracted by all the noise of secular culture and we begin to put our trust in politicians, we will easily be overtaken by the opposition. No matter how prominent or intelligent a person may seem, they’re ways are futile and weak when it comes to the evil, chaotic power that works within the world. Peter touch on this same idea of paying attention and centralizing our focus on the mission in his epistle:
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.”1 Peter 5:8-10 nkjv
The word be sober used here is the Greek word “nepho,” which means to be calm and collected in spirit, to be watchful. And the word vigilant is of the same importance, and is the Greek word “gregoreo,” which means to watch, give strict attention to, to be awake. Both words essentially mean the same thing with the focus being that of paying attention to what is going on, and yet remaining calm and collective, which essentially means to not be entangled in that which you are paying attention too.
This can be better understood by examining the primary word in the following verse, resist. This word is the Greek word “anthistemi,” which means to oppose, resist, to stand against. The only way in which we can resist the opposition properly is by paying attention to their tactics while remaining collective and standing firm on the solid foundation in which we stand-that is Christ Himself. And as I stated before, our weapons of warfare are that of spiritual means-prayer, fasting, proclamation of Christ and His Word to the world.
Now that I have broke down how Christians should act in accordance to political influence and agendas, there is still one more thing I would like to touch on, and that is the notion of patriotism. Not only have we come to idolize political leaders and become possessed by politically driven ideologies, but we have also come to identify ourselves more as American rather than Christians. Am I stating that it is bad to be happy to live in such a great country as we do? Absolutely not. And yet the problem is not that we are happy to live in this wonderful country and call ourselves Americans, it is that we are more attached to the idea of being American than that of being apart of God’s kingdom.
“But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.”hebrews 11:16 nkjv
“For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come.”Hebrews 13:14 nkjv
As stated in the previous two verses, just as with the patriarchs of old, we too have no permanent home here on earth as we look forward to our true home with God for eternity. This idea is echoed even more so with Paul as he goes on to state that there are no Jews, Greeks, male or female, and so on. Paul went further with this notion as he briefly bragged about his Jewish background, and yet at the end of the day none of it mattered in comparison to his faith in Christ and his heavenly citizenship.
The radical infatuation with being American is rooted within secular culture, and not Christianity. Now, I am not stated that we should not be happy to be placed in such a wonderful country, or that we should not respect all those that fought for our freedom that we have today. But, I am stating that this is not our true home, and that we should be more excited and devoted to the notion that we are children of God and citizens of the heavenly realm. Thank God for America and freedom, and yet my primary focus and desire is to proclaim Christ to others while praising God for His mercy towards me in having me be a citizen of the eternal realm.
I believe, according to scriptural interpretation and theological examination, that we should thank God for all He has blessed us with, and yet do not lift them up as idols. We should thank all those that have died for our country and for the freedom that has been bestowed upon us, and yet remain humbled in due process. We should applaud politicians that are striving for the good in our country, and yet we should never idolize them. We should be active in society through means such as voting, and yet remember that only through the power of Christ working in and through us can we truly make a difference. Pray, praise, and proclaim Christ, and therein make a difference in the world.