So many Christians are caught up in the Christian subculture and are completely closed off from the world. We go to church on Wednesdays, Sundays, and sometimes on Saturdays. We attend small group on Tuesday night and serve on the Sunday school advisory board, the financial committee, and the welcoming committee. We go to barbeques with our Christian friends and plan group outings. We are closed off from the world. Even if we wanted to reach out to nonChristians, we don’t have time and we don’t know how. The only way we know how to reach out is to invite people to join in our Christian social circle.
The robust calendar of many churches is a sign of health. It does seem that many churches have so emphasized the life of the congregation that they leave their members with relatively little time to fulfill the Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20. Surely, the cloistered life of many evangelicals contrasts sharply with the example of Christ, who spent a great deal of time with unbelievers.
Bottom Line of Message: When our posture becomes to closely associated with a political party, we lose credibility.
• Give an illustration about how dangerous it is to talk about faith and politics together.
• A top perception of Christianity is that Christians are sheltered, old-fashioned, unintelligent, and out-of-touch with reality. Often, this is related to politics because Christians fight for values that many outsiders think are old-fashioned or out of touch with reality.
• All of this raises a question: is it a bad thing to be too political or too sheltered in the eyes of outsiders?
• We’re not going to look at just one specific biblical text, but consider a few things we need to learn.
— The Bible doesn’t ignore politics and neither should we (e.g., explain Jesus’ instructions about paying taxes to Caesar or Paul’ teaching about submitting to authorities and praying for political leaders).
— But, neither political party in America today speaks for God; he is not a Republican or Democrat.
— When our values become to closely associated with one political party, platform, or candidate, we become spokespeople for that party/platform/ candidate rather than for God. And we lose our ability to be a prophetic witness for God’s kingdom, which is not of this world.
— When we become more know for what we are against (either a Republican or Democratic agenda), we are perceived as sheltered, ignorant, and close-minded.
• How do we change the perception without ignoring our convictions?
• Be thoughtful. Political issues are very complex and rarely does one party or candidate present the “biblical” viewpoint. We must educate ourselves on the issues and demonstrate that Christians want to approach issues with both values and solutions in mind.
• Be respectful. When we disagree, we must demonstrate respect. Genuine, godly believers will often come to different conclusions on political issues and this should foster humility regarding our own positions. And we must remember that our value system is different than those who are not Christians. Our posture toward those with whom we disagree is often as important as the content of the debate itself.
• Be engaging. Don’t be afraid to engage, but offer solutions rather than just highlighting problems. And then do something. We will be far more successful at bringing transformation to any issue by engaging the issue ourselves—in our local communities and churches—rather than believing that the election of a political candidate or the passing of a particular piece of legislation will solve the problem.
TOO POLITICAL AND SHELTERED
These questions are to be used in small groups or Bible studies as a follow-up to the sermon message each week. They will be most effective when discussion groups are also reading the book unChristian along with the series. This week’s topic pertains to chapters 6 and 7 in unChristian.
1. How do you respond when you are confronted with the fallen world (sin, brokenness, addiction, divorce, gay lifestyles)? Are you offended and withdraw? Or are you provoked to confront and engage the situation?
2. Why do you think Christians are perceived as being too involved in politics? What is your own level of involvement in politics? How much or little involvement do you think Christians should pursue through politics?
3. Many Christians view the political arena as a means to promote Christian morals within the culture. When does this work and when does it not work? Is this the most viable approach? What other ways can Christian values be infused into a community?
4. Do you think Christians should change the language and style of their approach to politics? Do you think we should avoid citing Scripture in explaining our position on different political issues?
5. How can Christians pursue political goals while not sounding as though they are demonizing opponents? When ideologies clash how do people avoid being abrasive? Or is clashing just a fundamental part of the political process?
6. How can you strike a balance of in the world, but not of the world? How can you live with purity and values while still being proximate to a broken world with often opposing values?