Political scholars and pundits see evangelicals as a powerful political movement. We are given much of the credit for the rightward movement of the Republican Party.
Wow! We’re right up there, running with the big dogs – the banking lobby, the health care lobby, the NRA and the Military Industrial Complex. Now we have the power to bring America back to the state of righteousness from which she has fallen!
Is this what it’s all about? Is this what we’re here for? Is this what Jesus intended for us? If so, we’re succeeding beyond our wildest dreams! But if not …
My Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition defines evangelical in a number of ways, but I believe the following definitions describe how we have historically understood ourselves.
“Evangelical: 1) of, relating to, or being in agreement with the Christian gospel esp. as it is presented in the four Gospels. 3) emphasizing salvation by faith in the atoning death of Jesus Christ through personal conversion, the authority of Scripture, and the importance of preaching as contrasted with ritual.”
There is no mention of a voting bloc, or of anything political. I’m sure the 12th Edition will correct that oversight?
The twelve apostles were concerned about greatness and apparently its accompanying power, as well.
“There arose a dispute among them as to which of them would be considered the greatest” (Luke 22:24).
“And He said to them, ‘The kings of the nations lord it over them, and those who have authority over them are called Benefactors. But it is not this way with you! But the one who is greatest among you must become as the youngest, and the one who leads as the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who sits at the table or the one who serves? Isn’t it the one at the table? But I am among you as the One who serves!’” (Luke 22:25-27)
This was not the first time Jesus had told them this, and if my chronology here is correct, He said this right after He had got up from the floor from washing their feet.
Jesus did promise power. But it’s the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8) – power for witness, power for service. He didn’t promise us political power. And if my understanding of history is correct, the spiritual power of the church – her witness – is in inverse proportion to her political power. I believe what’s happening today demonstrates this. As we become more and more enthralled with political power, our power for witness becomes more and more diluted.
So what kind of power do we want?