Chapters and Verses

book_title_pageI’m thinking there is a war being fought on two fronts.

  • there’s the battle that’s happening in the secular marketplace where godless agendas are being disguised as either scientific sounding conclusions or emotionally distraught appeals
  • …then there’s the tension that exists in the church where you’ve got some believers advocating a faith that is either withdrawn or corrupted as a response to the philosophical demons knocking on the front door of both our nation and our homes

Some of what’s out there is easy to spot.

Bogus narratives that border on outrageous are obvious. And then there’s the dynamic that becomes suspect when all you hear is a negative spin on that individual or that idea that deviates from the headline being featured in today’s news. After a while it becomes easy to dismiss what is obviously a biased perspective based more on personal baggage than it is objective analysis.

But it becomes really convoluted when you start hearing things from behind the pulpit that sound biblically credible according to certain passages of Scripture, yet lack substance when held up to the whole of God’s Word.

I’m being told by some Christian commentators that God doesn’t care about politics, that I need to repent of my support of systemic racism and to stay off of social media. Couple that with the incessant criticism of Conservative Politics and everything it supposedly represents and it can get confusing.

Chapter and Verse

Truth is like a bird; it cannot fly on one wing. Yet we are forever trying to take off with one wing flapping furiously and the other tucked neatly out of sight. Many of the doctrinal divisions among the churches are the result of a blind and stubborn insistence that truth has but one wing. Each side holds tenaciously to one text, refusing grimly to acknowledge the validity of the other.

A.W. Tozer

“Chapter and verse!” is a line that’s used from time to time when somebody want to challenge the biblical validity of a point that’s being made. But as the conversation becomes more populated with videos and blogs and channels and talk shows, you can’t allow yourself to be content with a mere “chapter and verse…”

Now, you’ve got to vet things with “chapters and verses.”

And I don’t mean just searching the Bible for as many verses as you can find that support your preferred take on a particular issue.

I mean, “digging” to find all of what God has to say about a situation because it’s not uncommon to find that more than one verse applies. And unless you’re taking that kind of approach, something’s going to get left out and your convictions, however passionate, will be similar to a bird attempting to fly on one wing (see side bar).

Potentially Unhealthy Distraction

For example, to say that God doesn’t care about politics is a reasonable position to take given the priority that God places on a person’s eternal health.

Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matt 10:28)

This is good, and pleases God our Savior,4who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. (1 Tim 2:3-4)

 And then when you look at the way the angel responded to Joshua in chapter five:

13 Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?”

14“Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.”

It’s obvious that our focus should be on our relationship to God through Christ and to pay too much attention to other matters such as politics is to engage in a potentially unhealthy distraction.

But that’s not all the Bible has to say about rulers or politics in general.

But That’s Not All…

First of all, when you look at Joshua 5:13-14, the sturdy soldier that Joshua was questioning was not referring to the cause he was championing when he gave his answer. Rather, he was telling Joshua he was neither a member of the garrison of Jericho, nor was he a part of the Israeli army – he was the commander of God’s Army. The Agenda that he had, however, was very much in line with the Israeli army, not because the Israelites were deserving or capable of a military victory, but because they were advancing the Truth and, this case, the Justice of God.

It’s not so much that the God was on the side of the Israelites, although the dramatic wins that characterized the Campaign of the Promised Land might suggest that. The fact of the matter was the Israelites were on God’s side and that’s what made all the difference (Ps 44:3).

That’s the “thing” that qualifies virtually any discipline, topic, event or candidate as an entity that merits God’s Interest and Attention. To suggest that the only time He involves Himself is when the subject matter pertains to the issue of Salvation exclusively is to ignore the way in which God is revealed in Scripture.

God works through human institutions and authorities to accomplish His Purposes. You see that in the way He hardened Pharaoh’s heart to facilitate the Exodus. He used King Cyrus to give the Israelites the legislative green light they needed in order to begin rebuilding Jerusalem. He used Quirinius to institute a census that would bring Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, He used taxes to illustrate how we are to allocate our sense of duty and responsibility.

The Old Testament devotes four books to chronicle the actions of all the kings of Israel,1 we’re commanded to pray for kings and those in positions of authority that we might live peaceful and godly lives, He stresses the importance of godly leadership by highlighting how citizens beneath the tyrannical boot of a wicked ruler  are miserable. He commends godly leadership, He despises evil rulers, He hates dishonest scales and He encourages political involvement.

Furthermore, “…there are 642 verses that refer to law, laws and lawlessness. There are 211 verses that refer to judgment, judges, and judging, and 561 verses that speak about justice. There are 195 verses that talk about courts, 301 verses that talk about ruling and rulers, and 100 verses that speak of governing and government. And, finally, in case you still think that God doesn’t care about politics, law and government, remember what the Old Testament prophet Isaiah said about the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders” (Isaiah 9:6).”2

God cares about Politics.

Too often, well meaning believers unwittingly side with an evil campaign convinced that the questions which would otherwise reveal insufficient answers are irrelevant if not cruel. As a result, Truth is replaced with accuracy and the shortfall is allowed to metastasize right up to the point when the curtain is finally drawn but by then it’s too late.

A Comprehensive Application of God’s Word

And the reason He cares about Politics is the same reason He cares about anything else and that is because He is working in and through every nuance of the human experience. No one is on the bench. Everyone of us is on the field and we all operate in the context of His Sovereignty and, as believers, we’re all expected to be making a difference and not just an appearance.

That’s why we pray, that’s why we vote and that’s why we pay attention to what’s going on so when it’s time to act we can do so based on convictions that aren’t just informed, but they’ve been vetted using a comprehensive application of God’s Word…

…not just a “chapter and a verse.”

Noble Sounding Phrases

The enemy rarely packages his plans in the context of something that’s obviously sinister. Bogus and even wicked agendas are frequently delivered in the context of noble sounding phrases designed to make a lie appear to be a victimized and helpless underdog. Too often, well meaning believers unwittingly side with an evil campaign convinced that the questions which would otherwise reveal insufficient answers are irrelevant if not cruel. As a result, Truth is replaced with accuracy and the shortfall is allowed to metastasize right up to the point when the curtain is finally drawn but by then it’s too late.

black_robeThe fact of the matter is if those believers who insist that we need to withdraw from volatile issues such as politics and cultural hot buttons were alive in 1776, the Declaration of Independence would never have been written. And if those who believe that politics and matters of state need to be completely divorced from one another had constituted the bulk of those who fought for independence, not only would the Revolutionary War not have occurred, but the philosophical framework that supports our approach to government would’ve looked more like the failed French Revolution that was based on humanism as opposed to the successful war for independence that was based on a Divine Absolute.

We engage, we stay informed and we converse. We don’t let the inaccurate narratives go unchallenged, we see through the misleading headlines and we stand by the Absolutes as expressed in Scripture as liberating and beneficial and not cruel and antiquated.

This is all not only possible but genuinely inspiring when done in a way that’s bold and enthusiastic and based on, not just those portions of Scripture that appeal to our potentially biased preferences…

…but expressed in a way that’s based on Scripture as a whole resulting in a platform that is both True and Inviting.

It’s not just a “chapter and a verse.”

It’s “chapters and verses.”

1. First and Second Kings, First and Second Chronicles. Also, the book of Ezra and Nehemiah include substantial content that reveal the political climate of the time.
2. “First Person: Does God Care Abo0ut Politics”, David Shelley, Baptist Press, August 30, 2010, https://www.baptistpress.com/resource-library/news/first-person-does-god-care-about-politics/, accessed December 27, 2020

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