The Intersection of the Gospel, Culture and Politics
Is the American church today too caught up in the culture wars and politics? Is this a distraction from our real gospel mission? And if we are, in fact, off track, at what point does the gospel intersect with politics and culture?
It’s very easy to go to extremes when it comes to the question of the gospel and politics (and/or the culture).
On the one hand, we can get so involved in the elections and so focused on cultural issues that we lose our primary identity as followers of Jesus.
Consequently, we put more focus on winning an election than on winning a soul, and we put so much energy into temporal causes that we forget about eternal issues.
On the other hand, we can be so consumed with the world to come that we forget about this present world. As the old saying goes, we can be so heavenly minded that we are of no earthly good.
The truth is that if we will be heavenly minded in the fullest sense, we will be of real earthly good. And when we apply eternal principles to this age, we can bring about lasting change.
How Does the Gospel Intersect With Culture and Politics?
In practice, this means: 1) We start with God and the gospel rather than starting with politics and culture. We are followers of Jesus more than we are citizens of any country, and first and foremost, we are here as His witnesses. 2) We recognize that the kingdom of God and the message of the gospel intersect with every area of earthly life. Then, as gospel-first, kingdom-minded people, we bring truth and clarity, justice and mercy, conviction and compassion to a lost and confused world.
We are God’s hands and feet, offering hope and help in the most practical ways, all in Jesus’ name. And we are God’s prophetic voice, bringing His message and perspective to every aspect of society.
Really now, is anything outside of the Lord’s view or interest? Certainly not.
Does He have something to say about the direction of a nation? Absolutely yes.
Does He call us to be active in service and witness in each our communities? Without a doubt.
This is how the gospel intersects with the culture wars and with politics.
Wanting Others to See the Need We’re Helping to Fill
This past Saturday, I posted this comment on the AskDrBrown Facebook page: “Hey friends, may I ask you to respond to this question? It is NOT because I base my ministry activities on your opinions. To the contrary, my goal is to honor the Lord and to get my marching orders from Him. I’m simply asking for the impact in your own life. So, do you personally find it helpful that I seek to bring a biblical perspective to cultural and political issues, or would you rather I simply teach Scripture without reference to culture and politics?”
The response was quite overwhelming, with more than 3,000 comments posted to date. And almost all of the responses said one of two things: 1) Dr. Brown, please don’t stop! What you’re doing is so essential! We need more voices like yours. 2) How can you separate the gospel from the culture or politics? God has something to say about them all.
Of course, I haven’t the slightest doubt that part of God’s calling of my life includes being “your voice of moral, cultural, and spiritual revolution,” as my radio announcer says every day. I don’t doubt that or question that for a split second.
But I posted the question on Facebook for one primary reason: I wanted other pastors and leaders to see how important it is that we educate and equip our people. I wanted to encourage them with the good fruit we are seeing, along with the need we are helping to fill.
As Norine posted, “The exegesis [meaning, the biblical interpretation] of watchmen /spokesmen is vital. The gospel guides how we live and move and have our ‘beings’ meaningfully connected to our real lives. These are confusing times with desperately confusing issues. Thank you so much for your wise contributions.”
Personally, I already knew that we were making a positive impact. That’s because we hear from readers and viewers and listeners day and night, saying the same things that these 3,000+ Facebook commenters said. This is 100 percent by God’s grace and totally for His glory. Any good we can do is by and through Him.
But I wanted others to see this as well. I wanted to challenge the idea that the gospel operates on such a different plane from this world that the spiritual realm hardly intersects with the natural realm.
“To Live in Protest Against Everything That Opposes God in This World”
As I have often said, the Great Commission is to go and make disciples of the nations. But how do disciples live? That is where the rubber meets the road. That is where our faith is fleshed out, affecting our personal lives, our family lives, our educational lives and our vocational lives.
In short, we are not of this world, meaning that we do not live by the principles and priorities of this world. But we live in this world, bringing the principles of the world to come, a world of perfect righteousness and goodness, into this present world.
In my book Revolution: An Urgent Call to a Holy Uprising, each chapter begins with a selection of powerful quotes. The first chapter includes these two, the first written in 1981, addressing American Christians, and the second in 1919, addressing German Christians:
As we turn to the evangelical leadership of this country in the last decades, unhappily, we must come to the conclusion that often it has not been much help. It has shown the mark of a platonic, overly spiritualized Christianity all too often. Spirituality to the evangelical leadership often has not included the Lordship of Christ over the whole spectrum of life. Spirituality has often been shut up to a very narrow area. And also very often, among many evangelicals, including many evangelical leaders, it seems that the final end is to protect their own projects. … I am again asking the question, why have we let ourselves go so far down the road? (Francis Schaeffer, A Christian Manifesto)
The attack by socialism and communism on the status quo is a call to our consciences — those of us who consider ourselves Christians. This call warns us more strongly than any sermon that our task is to live in protest against everything that opposes God in this world. So poorly have we Christians filled this role that the question must be asked: Are we Christians at all? (Eberhard Arnold)
Need I say more?
Dr. Michael Brown (www.askdrbrown.org) is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. His latest book is Evangelicals at the Crossroads: Will We Pass the Trump Test? Connect with him on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.