Politics and the Church – Building a Free Nation [Part 24]

For more than 230 years being an American had nothing to do with where you were born but what you believed, but now all of that is changing.  Since electing the first ‘black’ president, we have grown more radically divided rather than less, as repeatedly opposition to a proposed policy is challenged with a ‘race card’.  The world has become increasingly dangerous as policies from Washington have gone out of the way to distance America from the only mature free Democracy in the Middle East, Israel, whose right to exist is based upon Holy Scripture.  (Genesis 12)   

     If America is to survive, we must learn from our history.  The French historian, Alexis de Toqueville, who visited the US in the early part of the 19th century, was determined to discover the greatness of this young and growing empire.  Many have attributed the following quote to him:

“In the end, the state of the Union comes down to the character of the people.  I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers, and it was not there.  In the fertile fields and boundless prairies, and it was not there.  In her rich mines and her vast world commerce and it was not there.  Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits, aflame with righteousness, did I understand the secret of her genius and power.  America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”

     Dr. Adrian Rogers, before his death, often reminded his listeners, “God is America’s greatest hope…He is also America’s greatest threat.”  America is in grave danger, but God has a plan for her renewal, and He has given the power for that renewal to the pastors of America.  Every Sunday, millions of ordinary free Americans choose to go to church.  America’s pastors, like no other class of leaders, have the opportunity to turn the soul of America back to God, but it will not come through the likes of one well-known pastor in Texas, who commands an audience of millions and pastors one of the largest churches in America, but could not bring himself to say on Larry King Live that Jesus is the only way to Heaven.  It will come through courageous pastors in churches large and mostly small, who will stand up courageously every day and say, “thus saith the Lord,” and never deny His infallible Word.

     So, let’s take a look at two Christian men who did not shy away from politics of their time.  Men, like Paul and Silas, who had only one agenda, the advancement of God’s Truth, regardless of the consequences.  The story of their visit to Philippi contains the greatest defense of mixing church and state…politics.  When the American government system was conceived, it was designed to be of the people, by the people and for the people.  An American Christian is the government, and he is the Church.  The two cannot be separated any more than I can be separated from being both a father to my children and having been a husband to my wife.  That is why the concept of ‘separation of Church and state’ is a myth.  The story of Paul and Silas and their ministry in Philippi is one of the greatest validations in the Scripture of the necessity of mixing church and state.  While Paul and Silas were not politically minded, they were not politically ignorant either.

     Paul and Silas were not Politically Driven.  Paul and Silas entered the Roman city of Philippi with no political agenda.  They went to Philippi believing that God had sent them there to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Once there, they had some immediate success with the conversion to Christianity of a wealthy professional woman named Lydia, who then opened her home to Paul and his band of missionaries. (Acts 16: 13-15).

     Paul and Silas were not Politically Correct.  One day as they were going to the place of prayer, a girl who was a fortune teller began following them and shouting, “These men are servants of the most high God, who are telling you the way to be saved”. (Acts 16:16-17).  When examined on its face, there is nothing incorrect about what the young girl was saying, but clearly her manner was a distraction to Paul and Silas and a hindrance to their work.  After a number of days, Paul finally turned and addressed the girl, whom he perceived to be demon possessed.  It seems that her abilities to read fortunes were satanically induced and clearly not from God, but as often is the case, there were a group of enterprising businessmen in town who had devised a scheme to capitalize on this young lady’s misfortune.  When Paul rebuked the spirit, in the name of Jesus, the spirit of divination left her and so did her fortune telling abilities.  Without question, this was a great day in the life of the young lady, for finally she was free from the bondage that had driven her to make a public spectacle of herself, but her lost abilities infuriated the owners.  They viewed her as a commodity to be brokered.  Paul and Silas saw her as a soul to be rescued.  They were not politically correct.  

     In today’s culture, people are viewed as commodities as well.  Pre-born babies are dubbed fetuses along with ‘just born’ babies that are to be destroyed by abortionists who pervert their skills of healing to become instruments of murder.  The babies’ organs are sometime harvested for sale or experimentation.  Drugs are smuggled into the country by sophisticated and well-connected criminals who buy their justice or avoid it all together by bribing law enforcement officials.  Young athletes are bought and sold by wealthy businessmen who discard them like garbage when they can no longer meet expectations, while other more sophisticated athletes do the same to the general public.  Perhaps this tragedy best displays its wicked scheme every day in divorce courts across the land where children are bought and sold by warring parents who refuse to stay married.  In walks a new love affair that has no blood ties to the children in the house, who far too often become either the objects of perverse and sordid love, or ridicule and tragic abuse.  Paul and Silas were not politically correct…they saw her life as tragic and her owners as wicked.  They decided to act without regard to being politically correct.

     Paul and Silas were not Politically Connected.  Within hours the owners recognizedthat their hope of making money was gone.  Under the guise of being civic minded…how often do we see that nowadays…these businessmen seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace where they were marched through a ‘kangaroo’ court and slandered religiously and racially.  They were accused of being “Jews”.  The fact that they were Jewish should have had no bearing on anything, but it did.  Much like the modern-day tactics of calling someone a “radical right-wing fundamentalist,” or some other less-than-flattering title…registered citizen…their intent being to incite prejudice against Paul and Silas…and it clearly worked.  They were never given a fair hearing.  They were accused of advocating unlawful customs and without opportunity to respond…sound familiar…they were stripped, beaten, and thrown into jail.  Clearly, Paul and Silas had no political connections in Philippi.

     Next week we will continue with what Paul and Silas were not, and what they were.  Why look into the missions of Paul and Silas when on the subject of ‘Building a Free Nation’?  Well, our Founders were well aware of these stories as they developed their own character.  They were aware of the stumbling blocks placed before Paul and Silas and knew they would face similar objections.  While history teaches us to be strong in the presence of opposition, it is in our churches that we gain the strength and understanding only God can provide to get us through life’s challenges.

-Bob Munsey

“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.”  

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