Some people think it’s morning in America and some think it’s the morning after. What should be our attitude toward the crisis we find ourselves in?
First, this may shock you, but it’s a foolish thought to hope that help will come from Washington. As Christians, we’re children of another world. We are pilgrims. We’re not vagabonds or strangers. A vagabond has no home; a stranger is away from home. A pilgrim is headed home. What should be the politics of pilgrims?
“For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame — who set their mind on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 3:18-20)
From a Roman prison, Paul wrote Philippians. Around him, Rome, with its politics and ripe with paganism, was a city of gross immorality and great hostility toward the gospel of Jesus Christ. And who was the leader? Nero, the epitome of evil. When Paul wrote this letter, Christians had no political power. They weren’t members of the Roman Senate. They had no political lobby working in Rome. Paul says, “Our citizenship is in heaven.”
He contrasts the politics of two kingdoms: earthly and heavenly. We who are of a heavenly kingdom confront an enemy both seen and unseen.
- an unseen spiritual world ruled over by Satan,
- an earthly kingdom filled with people who aren’t even aware they are absolute enemies of the cross of Christ.
“…enemies of the cross of Christ…” (3:18)
To most people of this earthly, visible kingdom, “the preaching of the cross of Jesus Christ is foolishness.” Apart from divine revelation, they cannot understand the message of the cross. They may not even think they’re enemies, but Jesus said, “He who is not with Me is against Me.”
“Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly” — that’s a descriptive way of saying that they’re sensual (v. 19), “and whose glory is their shame….” A generation proud of their perversion glories in things which ought to cause shame.
“…who mind earthly things.” (v. 19)
Many whose names are on church rolls are really just practical atheists. Their concern is not advancing the kingdom of God but their own well-being. Even many Christians who want America to “turn back” just don’t want to lose their creature comforts.
“For our politics are in heaven; from whence we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” (v. 20)
In Rome, the cry was, “Caesar is lord.” Christians said, “No, Jesus is Lord.” We have a different Lord. He is our Savior, our King forever. We didn’t vote Him in and we won’t vote Him out. Our allegiance belongs not to Caesar but to Jesus Christ.
“…who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.” (v. 21)
From a dark prison cell, Paul aspires for heaven, looking for that day when Jesus comes. Others, in contrast, are interested in this world and its affairs.
Therefore, what are the politics of a pilgrim?
The Right Mandate and Message
“And I entreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which labored with me in the gospel…” (4:3)
Our mandate is The Great Commission. It is primarily spiritual, not political, preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ beginning with the house and people of God. We’re concerned about putting prayer back in the schools. We should be more concerned about putting prayer back in the church and our homes!
The Right Method and Energy
“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (4:13)
We’re not going to do this with political power. If we substitute political power for our inherent power as believers in Christ, we’ve made a tragic mistake.
“For the weapons of our warfare (we have a different warfare} are not carnal (fleshly), but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds.” 2 Corinthians 10:4
We must understand:
- Our ally is the Holy Spirit.
- Our source of supply is Almighty God.
- Our Commander-in-Chief is Jesus Christ.
- Our weapon is the Word of God.
There are churches on every corner, but many are dark while the movie theaters and pleasure palaces are open and blazing. We have everything in place except one — the power of Almighty God. It’s time the church activates our secret weapon, the H-bomb, the Holy Spirit.
When we exert own power, the devil laughs, “You can have your rallies, your marches, your slogans, your organizations — even your church, Sunday school, deacons, and pastor — as long as you leave out the power of God that comes through fasting and prayer.” Satan laughs at our schemes, mocks our organizations, sneers at our abilities. But he fears the power of God.
The Right Mindset
“Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice…” (v. 4)
Paul is writing from prison, precious friends, yet he’s rejoicing. Refuse to be discouraged about what a bunch of politicians do or don’t do. God is on the throne.
“The Lord is at hand.” (v. 5)
He didn’t mean Jesus is coming soon but “God is with me in this cell. He’s at hand.”
“Be anxious for nothing (don’t worry about anything; don’t go around wringing your hands), “but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (v. 6-7)
It’s easy to go around with headline hysteria, to lose our peace, our joy, over what people are doing or not doing. Do you know what sinners do? They sin. You might as well get used to it. To try to change them without getting them saved would be like trying to teach billygoats not to butt.
Take your eyes off people and put them upon the Lord Jesus Christ.
A version of this article appeared on the Love Worth Finding website under the headline “The Politics of Pilgrims.”
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