“I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 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 17:14-16, New International Version)
To me, this is one of the most important, and sadly, one of the most overlooked tenets of true Christian faith: to be politically neutral, neither running for office or voting or participating in any way in the political affairs of this world. Just consider, for instance, how different history would have been if the Popes had refrained from meddling. If it helps, think of it this way: I’ve already ‘cast my vote,’ as it were, for that Kingdom Christ taught us to pray for (“Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”) and to turn around and support a human government would be treason.
(This won’t stop me from having opinions, of course. But I won’t act on them, other than to rant and rave and spout off. The proverb proves true in this case: Everybody has an opinion, and they all stink.)
“Jesus said, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.’ “ (John 18:36, New International Version)
See above. Also note that (unless you believe in the Jesus Seminar) these are Christ’s own words. If you’re not following the words of the very person who supposedly founded your religion, I can’t help you.
“You have no right to criticize your brother or look down on him. Remember, each of us will stand personally before the Judgment Seat of God. For it is written, ‘As I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee shall bow to me and every tongue confess to God.’ Yes, each of us will give an account of himself to God.” (Romans 14:10-12, The Living Bible)
This ties in with the first two scriptures. If we’re following Paul’s advice, we’re not (heaven forbid!) trying to legislate our beliefs on someone else. That is not our place, and in fact is a presumptuous affront to God’s sovereignty and power. It is Christ’s role to judge. Not ours. If this means that secular society passes laws or allows practices we find abhorrent, so be it. Each of us should be worried about our own relationship with God, not anyone else’s.
“Therefore, my brothers, I implore you by God’s mercy to offer your very selves to him: a living sacrifice, dedicated and fit for his acceptance, the worship offered by mind and heart. Adapt yourselves no longer to the pattern of this present world, but let your minds be remade and your whole nature thus transformed. Then you will be able to discern the will of God, and to know what is good, acceptable, and perfect.” (Romans 12:1-2, The New English Bible)
Whew! One could write an hour-long speech about those two verses. None of us will be able to keep this perfectly, of course. Still, if we’re striving to follow this advice, those not of our faith should be able to see that we are different: that our ‘minds are remade’ and our ‘nature transformed.’ I find it interesting that only after this has taken place–after we have submitted ourselves to God–we are truly able to discern God’s will, and know what is acceptable to Zie. Therefore, to get to that place takes some time, reflection, and most of all, humility.
“Not all who sound religious are really godly people. They may refer to me as ‘Lord,’ but still won’t get to heaven. For the decisive question is whether they obey my Father in heaven. At the Judgment many will tell me, ‘Lord, Lord, we told others about you and used your name to cast out demons and to do many other great miracles.’ But I will reply, ‘You have never been mine. Go away, for your deeds are evil.’ “ (Matthew 7:21-23, The Living Bible)
This is sound advice indeed: to never take our faith for granted, to always search and strive and read and pray, knowing we can easily wander from the path. (This is also why we shouldn’t be concerned with anyone but ourselves; just keeping myself on the Gateway to Life [see Matthew 7:14] is the work of a lifetime!)
Now, I’m not saying Christians should bury ourselves in the back room of the monastery and never poke our heads through the door again. We do have some tasks we are commanded to perform, such as helping the poor and sharing our faith with those who will listen. But at the same time, it’s obvious from the above that there will be a lot of false Christians out there; Jesus knew that, and so should anybody who pays attention to current events. Without judging, I venture to say a lot of those ‘Christians’ will be surprised at the last trumpet.
I should hope I’m not one of them.