A Kingdom Divided
Our country has been through a difficult presidential campaign that ended in a very divisive outcome. Staunch supporters of both major candidates continue to lash out at each other on television, through social media, at the dinner table, in the pews and around the office water cooler. Last Sunday, Scott Leib, Pastor at Chapel Springs Church in Manassas, VA shared some of his own “exit polls”. He declared with authority that according to these exit polls, there are people who have placed their faith in Christ, attend church faithfully, are on their way to heaven and love Jesus who voted for Hillary Clinton. These same exit polls showed that there are also people who have placed their faith in Christ, attend church faithfully, are on their way to heaven and love Jesus who voted for Donald Trump. Amazingly, the polls also showed that there are people who have placed their faith in Christ, attend church faithfully, are on their way to heaven and love Jesus who voted for a third party candidate. Extraordinary! Unbelievable! The point is that the nation is not the only thing divided after this election, the church seems to be divided as well!
Jesus taught that a Kingdom (whether spiritual or political) that was divided against itself cannot stand (Mark 3:24). So the question is, in light of the current political situation, what do we do? What is the proper or godly response to the dilemma we find ourselves in?
We find the answer to our question in the book of Philippians. The context of this short New Testament Epistle is the perfect backdrop for finding out what to do in the middle of conflict and divisiveness. Paul wrote this letter to the church at Philippi while he was in prison. In Philippians 1 he shares his own inner conflict. He does not know if his imprisonment will end in release or in death. Not only that, but he is also uncertain which outcome he really desires. He verbalizes that if he lives on, he will enjoy more fruit as he proclaims the message of Christ. However, there is a part of him that just wants it to be over (can you relate sometimes?). Paul had the confidence that if the Roman government decided to put him to death, he would immediately be with Christ! What a dilemma!
Out of this personal conflict Paul picks up the pen to write to a church in conflict. It seemed that there were those in the church who were seeking their own interests and needed to be addressed (Philippians 2). There were those who were coming into the church and teaching alse doctrine (Philippians 3) as well as members of the church who just couldn’t seem to get along (Philippians 4). Add to this the fact that Philippi was a VERY Roman city, loyal to the Emperor and you have the perfect recipe for conflict and divisiveness.
Against this backdrop, Paul gives some wise advice in Philippians 1:27:
Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.
No amount of conflict, either internal or external, political or spiritual, casual or severe, gives us permission to live, react and behave out of our flesh. In the middle of this politically charged time period in our country, it is more important than ever that Christians live in such a way that our actions and reactions bring glory to God. The Kingdom of God is much bigger than the politics of the United States of America. We did not just elect a Savior for the world (we already have one), we simply elected the President of a country. He will be one of many world leaders that rise and fall at the sovereign pleasure of God.
But Bob, there is so much evil and wickedness! The media is so biased! The issues are so clear! This country is on a downhill spiral toward self-destruction! I’ve heard it all but I still have hope. Not hope in a President or a political system. Not hope in a country or a way of life. Hope in a person. Christ will come again and when He does, He will find a mess but He will right the wrongs and exact perfect judgement. That is not our job. Our job is to be salt and light while we can, pointing people to Jesus the real hope of the world!