Contrary to the claims of politicians and even church leaders, Jesus is the “light of the world,” not any nation, government or political ideology.
Politicians routinely invoke “god” to validate their agendas and authority, and the most popular religion is employed to do so. Just as today’s officeholders pay lip service to “Judeo-Christian values,” so the emperors of Rome appealed to their traditional gods for divine approval. Patriotism and religious faith become synonymous, and lack of nationalistic fervor becomes heresy.
All too often, church leaders participate in this idolatrous ritual, especially when partisan feelings run high. The inevitable result is the close association or even identification of God, Jesus or Christianity with a nation, economic model, ideology, or political party. Rather than Jesus, the now exalted nation or political system becomes the “light set on a hill” that guides humanity to a better life.
The issue is not whether any nation is especially good, bad, or indifferent. But such notions contradict the claims of Jesus who declared that he is “the light of the world.” The identity and nature of God can only be found in him, and there is no truth or life apart from the Son of God – (John 14:6-11, 8:12, 9:5, Acts 13:47, 26:23).
Because they reflect his image, his followers become “lights of the world,” and they are called to let their “light shine before men so that they may glorify their Father in heaven.” The light found in Jesus and reflected in his Church is the light that illuminates all nations. Christ gave his life for the entire world, not for just one nation, ethnic group, culture, or political system – (Matthew 5:13-16, John 3:16).
Any attempt to associate or identify Jesus with specific nations, political groups, or ideological agendas is idolatrous, if not blasphemous. The Bible labels Jesus the “light of the world,” not western civilization, democracy, socialism, or free-market capitalism. That some Christians embrace such sentiments only demonstrates how far from the biblical ideal we have strayed.
There is no true light, liberty, peace, or life apart from Jesus. Scripture declares that the church, the body of Spirit-filled believers that transcends all national and cultural boundaries is the true people of God, the “holy nation” that is called to mediate his light in a very dark world. Super patriotism and national idolatry adopted by Christians only hinder this task.
Jesus did not establish his church to propagate socialism, capitalism, democracy, or “western civilization.” Instead, it is tasked with proclaiming the kingdom of God, to summon all men and women to repent and submit to the lordship of its king, Jesus Christ, while the opportunity to do so remains.
Christians are a pilgrim people in this fallen world. Their true citizenship is in the kingdom of God. To be a loyal citizen of that kingdom means giving absolute allegiance to its ruler. This leaves no room for dual citizenship or conflicted loyalties. Furthermore, sooner or later, all other existing regimes will cease to exist. Even now, all the forms and institutions of this age are in the process of “passing away” – (1 Corinthians 7:31, 15:20-28, Philippians 3:20, 1 Peter 1:1-2).
The immersion of many Christians into the political arena has diverted them from their paramount task – To proclaim the gospel to all nations. Too many forget who and what they are, the people of God tasked with reflecting the light of Christ. Jesus did not call his church to reform society or take over the political system. The existing order is destined for destruction, its fate is sealed. In the end, only one kingdom will be left standing.
This is not a call to disengage from the world, but instead, to reengage it using the biblical means – To become witnesses of Jesus Christ. The kingdom of God cannot be advanced by the ballot box, military might, economic or political power, but only through men and women living cruciform lives that reflect his light.