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What if God Mixed Religion and Politics?
by Alan Allegra
2/21/2020 / Politics
Religion and politics are common, volatile, hot-button issues. That can be seen by the violent divisions among people of various political philosophies, as well as legal, and even bloody, persecution of religious adherents. Conservatives are publicly attacked, anti-Semitism is on the rise, and more Christians have been persecuted in the last century than all previous centuries combined. Political disagreements are no longer relegated to spirited discussions among uncles at the dinner table, and religious disputes have escalated beyond name-calling.
Mixing religion and politics is considered a particularly nasty brew. I have been accused of using religious jargon to promote a political agenda. It’s said that Jesus eschewed political involvement. But Jesus, when asked if it was right to pay taxes to the wicked Caesar, said, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's” (Mark 12:17). Misinterpretations aside, he said it was politically correct to pay taxes, even to an ungodly leader. He also called King Herod a “fox,” which sounds like political commentary, and Jesus’ “religious” work was not going to cease on the government’s say-so.
The gospel of Matthew especially portrays Jesus Christ as fully-authenticated Messiah, king of Israel (cf. John 1:49). This seems very political.
From the beginning of time, there were rules and laws, the basis of government. From Genesis 2 to Revelation 22, God has set the rules. God, as ruler and judge, destroyed all but Noah and his family because they were evil (Genesis 5–8). Moses, the greatest lawgiver ever, was given the law by God, and many of the greatest nations have used that law as a basis for their government. Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy are essentially about the governance of the new nation of Israel, covering civil, ethical, moral, economic, ceremonial, dietary, health, and military spheres. Judges and kings were commanded to judge and rule in righteousness, with disastrous results when “everyone did what was right in his own eyes,” known as “anarchy” (Judges 21:25).
When Saul, the first king of Israel, was ordained, the people were reminded that “the Lord has set a king over you” (1 Samuel 12:13 & ff.), and “if both you and the king who reigns over you will follow the Lord your God, it will be well.” Compare this New Testament passage: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God” (Romans 13:1–7; cf. 1 Peter 2:13–15, 17).
Returning to Jesus — the entire bible points to Christ as the one who is not only to shepherd Israel upon his return, but will also ultimately vanquish evil and rule the new heaven and earth in peace and righteousness (which are inextricably linked) (Revelation 19:11–16; 2 Peter 3:13; 1 Corinthians 15:24). This is the ultimate admixture of religion and politics.
Remember, Jesus told his disciples to “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's . . ..” If they could serve under Caesar, we can serve under anyone. The apostle Paul commanded believers “that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior” (1 Timothy 2:1–3). And this was the cruel Roman empire! We are to intercede for rulers so we can lead a prosperous life in obedience to the Lord.
To say religion and politics should not mix, and use Jesus as an example, is at best a gross misunderstanding, and at worst, blasphemy against his mission and deity.
Who could argue against living in a society of “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22–23)? That can — and will — happen when Jesus the Messiah returns to reign!
Alan is Content Coordinator for Lifestyles Over 50 (Thrive Media) and contributor to the Allentown, PA, Morning Call. He is also an adult Sunday school teacher and Bible study leader. Passionate about reviving theology and church methodology, and being a senior citizen!
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