SYNOPSIS – Contrary to the claims of many voices, Jesus is the only true “light of the world,” not any nation, a system of government, or political ideology.
Political leaders invoke God as a matter of routine to validate their ideology, agendas, and authority. Whatever religion, deity, or religion is the most popular at any given moment is employed to bolster their credibility. Just as today’s officeholders pay lip service to “Judeo-Christian values,” so the pagan emperors of Rome appealed to the traditional gods for divine approval. Patriotism and religious faith become indistinguishable, and any lack of nationalistic fervor becomes tantamount to religious heresy.
Too often Church leaders participate in this idolatrous game, especially when partisan feelings run high. The inevitable result is the close association and even the identification of God, Jesus, and Christianity with a nation, ideology, political party, or its leader. The nation or political philosophy becomes the “light of the world” ordained by heaven to illuminate the world with its “light.”
Any idea like this contradicts the claims of Jesus and the New Testament authors. As he declared, “I am the light of the world.” The identity and nature of God can only be found in him – There is no truth, knowledge of God, or life apart from him – (John 8:12, 9:5, 14:6-11, Acts 13:47, 26:23).
Because they reflect his image, likewise, the followers of Christ become “lights in the world,” the church is the “city set on a hill.” Disciples must let their “light shine before men so that they may glorify their Father in heaven.” The light found only in Jesus that is reflected in his Church is to illuminate all nations with his gospel about the “Kingdom of God,” the only political system and “ideology” that will matter in the end – (Matthew 5:13-16, John 3:16).
Any attempt to associate or identify Jesus with a specific nation, ethnic group, economic or ideological agenda becomes a political conceit, self-delusion, and a blasphemous form of idolatry. Jesus is the “light of the world,” not western civilization, democracy, free-market capitalism, socialism, or any other political philosophy. That some Christians embrace the marriage of nationalism with Christianity only demonstrates how far from the biblical ideal many have strayed.
There is no true light, liberty, peace, or life apart from Jesus. Scripture declares that the church, a body of Spirit-filled believers that transcends all national, cultural, and ethnic boundaries is the true People of God, His “holy nation” and priestly kingdom tasked with mediating the light of Christ in a very dark world. Super patriotism and national idolatry can only hinder this task.
Jesus did not establish his church to propagate democracy or Western political ideals. Instead, the church is summoned to proclaim the “kingdom of God” and call all men and women to submit to the lordship of its one and only king, Jesus Christ.
Christians are a pilgrim people in this fallen world, their true citizenship is in the kingdom of God. To be a loyal citizen in his kingdom means total allegiance to its king. There is no room for dual citizenship or conflicted loyalties. Sooner or later, all other existing regimes will cease to exist – (1 Corinthians 7:31, 15:20-28, Philippians 3:20, 1 Peter 1:1-2).
No existing government or society has ever acknowledged or submitted to the absolute lordship of Jesus. Every present regime is a part of the existing world order judged already on the Cross and destined to nonexistence. All the forms and institutions of this age are already in the process of passing away – (1 Corinthians 7:31).
The immersion of many Christians into partisan politics has diverted many of them from their paramount task – To proclaim the gospel to all nations. Too many forget who and what they are, the people of God called to reflect the light of Christ.
Jesus did not task his church with “engaging the culture,” reforming society or political systems. The present world order is destined for destruction, its fate is sealed. In the light of New Testament teaching, it makes no sense to expend time and resources on what has already been judged on Calvary. Why work for the “meat that perishes?”
This is not a call to disengage from the world but to reengage with it using the biblical means – To become witnesses for Jesus Christ. The “kingdom of God” can only be advanced by men and women living cruciform lives and reflecting the light of Christ.
The churches of America need to return to the biblical faith – To “remember from where we have fallen, repent and do the first works, lest Jesus come and remove our lampstand out of its place.” Otherwise, one day we may find ourselves rendering homage to the “Beast.”