“My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.” (John 17:15-16)
Christians are not commanded to totally withdraw from society. They are not commanded to enter monasteries or live in caves like hermits of old. Some Christians such as the Mennonites identify modern conveniences as sin and avoid them, but most do not. Most have not forsaken modern society … aka “the world”.
We send our kids to public schools and universities.
We watch this world’s sports and cheer our home teams.
We get jobs in business and participate in capitalism.
We work in the bureaucratic halls of this world’s governments.
We even work in corporations that form the military food chain.
Many Christians see nothing wrong in such involvement “in the world”. After all, to survive in this world, we must work in it and our children become educated. We read: “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” (Rev. 18:4) “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, says the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you … “ (2 Cor. 6:17)
Christians understand that the evil committed in the world is what we must avoid, not the world itself.
There is nothing wrong with two teams chasing a ball around a field. It is enjoyable to watch and we appreciate the skill and character it takes. The “good” in sport is that it can inspire us to also strive harder. Sometimes we see the ugly side of human nature on display as in “poor sportsmanship” … but that alone does not make evil what otherwise is good. We understand that every human enterprise in this world is imperfect. There are no exceptions.
We try to avoid exposing ourselves to influences so strong that they lead to sin. We also understand the risk of spiritual erosion from the daily grind and temptations. So we resist evil, seek God, and try to survive while yet in this present evil world. We work, educate our children, and are entertained in the world because it benefits us to do so.
But do we also have an obligation to help make the world a better place for others?
Sometimes the argument is made we should not participate in government, either directly as a representative of the people or in voting to appoint someone else as a representative. To do so is to participate in this evil world. However, the collective effort of Christians in electing good government can be a great blessing for all and a fulfillment of the command: “Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to help them” (Prov. 3:27) Is there a contradiction?
No one believes that becoming a leader or voting itself is evil. God Himself told Israel: “You shall appoint judges and officers in all your gates, which the Lord your God gives you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with just judgment …” (Deut. 16:18) “Choose wise and knowledgeable men from among the tribes and I will make them heads over you” (Deut. 1:13)
The command to pick wise leaders reflected the wisdom of God in the free society of Israel. When God spoke these words, Israel was not ruled by a king. God was their ruler and the people appointed representatives to lead them, rather than rule over them. God showed that “self rule” does not end at the front door but extended into “all their gates”. Applying God’s wisdom to America today (we remember 2 Tim. 3:16); self rule extends into our schools, institutions, and halls of government.
Today, selecting or becoming a wise leader in government is part of “politics”. The word “politics” is not found in the Bible, hardly reason enough to negate God’s command to pick wise leaders. If the buildings in Washington are not evil, and making laws is not evil, what of “politics” remains “evil”? Perhaps the fact that too many elected leaders, rather than being “wise and knowledgeable” are instead selfish, foolish, and or corrupt. Such leaders have become so numerous and powerful that they dominate the entire law making system in Washington.
So how and when did our government become so corrupt?
Was it like this from the beginning? Were our founding fathers selfish, foolish, and corrupt? I don’t think so. Logically then, it became increasingly corrupt because too many Americans in the course of time ignored the wisdom of God to “appoint wise and knowledgeable leaders”. The corrupt state of Washington today is explained by breaking a law of cause and effect; evil not resisted tends to grow. We sow what we reap.
Given this, how can anyone rationally say: “I refuse today to help appoint wise and knowledgeable leaders because people like me refused to do so in the past and now the place is a mess”? As noted above, wise leaders are a blessing to the people and in a country as powerful as America, a blessing to the whole world. Selecting such leaders fulfills God’s command: “Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to help them.” (Prov. 3:27) Foolish leaders on the other hand bring misery and are a curse. The truth of this is plain to see today, around us and in the world.
I have heard some say “everyone in Washington is corrupt”.
This is factually unknowable, therefore untrue, and approaching slander. Besides this, why does Washington seek to destroy those “politicians”who seek to reform it? Christ once declared a house divided cannot stand.
Others may say “anyone I elect will be imperfect and cause sin”. A fair response is to ask who among us can cast the first stone, either as a parent or leader over others? God appointed us as parents (did He err?) and no one who appoints us to earthly office expects from us perfection, not really.
Do we tolerate corruption elsewhere in society?
Our schools and universities have become “corrupt”. From places of learning, many (not all) have degraded into cradles of indoctrination. Modern secular education is blatantly hostile to the principles of God and actively seeks in many cases to subvert our children into a belief “of the world”. How then can voting for a president be a major concern, while still sending Christian children to public schools and universities be less so? How can Christians refuse to vote on account of coming “out of the world” yet subject their children at an impressionable age to the worst the world has to offer?
The Hope and the Task
Christ once asked His followers to pray “Thy Kingdom come”. All Christians look to the future when peace and happiness will reign on earth. It is a hope that stirs in all of us. It is a hope that gives value to our present suffering. But then Christ said: “Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven”. Christians today can be His instruments in fulfilling His will on earth. The hope of the future does not lessen the task before us today, nor does today’s task lessen the hope.
Many Christians welcome this task. Others do not see they have such a task, or, place severe limits on its scope. The future is all that matters and what ever happens in this home God has given us, America … today cannot be helped. I disagree with this approach and have presented scriptures that explain why.
There is always a task for God’s people.
God gave Adam and Eve a garden that required maintenance. Then God formed the nation Israel that also required maintenance; one task being “appoint wise and knowledgeable leaders”. Then our unchanging God somehow created America, a novelty on the world scene, and a promise fulfilled to Abraham. This land of promise became a dwelling place for God’s people. Can Christians and all those who “seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly” turn their backs and allow “weeds” to overgrow it?
With this in mind. a great people can be destroyed by bad leaders, not because the people themselves have reached some new thresh hold of evil, but because good people in ignorance did nothing. Bad leaders can be like weeds that thrive in a garden in need of maintenance. It is generally understood that the American election result in 2012 would have been different, had millions of Christians chosen to participate. Bad leaders thrived. The suffering of America and the world since then has been great.
God allows suffering for a noble reason; that somehow it prepares us for eternal life. Ignorance is a poor reason for suffering, for if we have a valid excuse for our ignorance, what does it prove? Suffering offers greater return when we bring it upon ourselves, eyes wide open. For then we can repent and change our ways.
Should America decline, or even perish, in the years ahead, let it do so because its people became so evil they brought it upon themselves. Let it not be because good people deliberately deprived the nation of “wise and knowledgeable leaders”, believing in so doing they were pleasing God.