The False Promise of “Earthly Power”

By Jonathan David Faulkner

 

The Teacher is about to leave; he stands on a hill with those who have followed him, watched him die and be brought back to life. He had performed miracles among them, taught them, walked with them, for three years, they had gone to Jerusalem with him. They had seen the resurrected body and the power that he had. So they stood on the mountain that he would soon ascend from and ask him one more question. “Teacher, at this time will you restore the Kingdom of Israel?”

Between 166-122 B.C. another group had tried, and for a time, succeeded to free the Kingdom of Israel, this revolt, known as the Maccabean Revolt had been asking the same question, and for a time, they succeeded. Freeing themselves from the Seleucids before Rome controlled the known world.

In the 4th and 5th century A.D Rome was losing power, co-rulers were fighting each other and there were constant invasions from the Gauls, the Huns and the Vandals. A series of Rulers and Co-Rulers tried with every means at their disposal to keep Rome in tact, striving to return to the greatness of Rome under their predecessors. “Making Rome great again” was the focus of such leaders as Valentinian and Constantinius. Their great empire was crumbling, and the people were panicking. Systematic Persecution of all who were not members of the church became the norm. The Sarasin, the Gaul, the Norman, the Saxxon, they would become the targets of the “Christian Empire.”

It does not matter how phrase it, whether you think this was good, or know that it actually turned out to go very badly for Christendom up through the time of the Reformation. History cannot be ignored, the Church abused its power, there was a negative reaction to that abuse, the church became fought to retain that power and so instead of greatness, the church suffered greatly.

In the 1920’s and 30’s a charismatic despot arose in Germany. His goal was to restore the glory of Germany. To, make it great again, and he enacted the most oppressive and deadliest government policies in history. His name was Adolf Hitler, and he had the backing (based on an agreement he reached with them) of much of the German Church. Something that grieved the Swiss Theologian Karl Barth and the great German Preacher Dietrich Bonhoeffer who became a leader in the Confessing Church and eventually would be killed by the German Government for participating in a plot against Hitler.

In the 1950’s and 60’s the American Church was at its peak, 1-5 people were Christians and a majority of the population attended Church in one of the mainline denominations. The New-Wave Pentecostal Movement was beginning to sweep across the nation and American Fundamentalism was rich with answers that were helpful to the people. The Billy Graham Crusades and Navigators were working together to do Discipleship and the Church enjoyed political power.

Today, American Christianity is in decline. Fundamentalists have largely turned to fear-mongering and legalism and the church is scrambling for a man who can restore us to power. Meanwhile, those of us who are seeking to build up the church in the way of the Gospel are told not to speak, that we should fall in line and openly support the man that they have touted as the answer. Even if doing so violates both our conscious and scripture. As I have said before, we are being force-fed a culture of fear, and many in the church have been eating it up.

We have so easily abandoned hope, we have so easily abandoned grace, we have so easily abandoned Christ.

Honestly Church, if Christ were here would we ask him what those Disciples did? “Teacher, will you now restore the Church to power in America?” How would we react if Jesus told us? “The Days and hours are not for you to know.” Would we, like the Macabees seek to retake a nation by force, or like the Crusaders, murdering innocent women and children. Or like Hitler, carrying out a plan to systematically destroy entire people groups. Have we so forgotten where our power lies? Are we willing to follow a man before we follow Christ? Is this not contrary to everything the church is supposed to stand for?

I weep for our current condition, and as long as those who are encouraging this type of thought have 1.5 million followers on Facebook it will be perpetuated through Social Media and everywhere else. Christian, we need to stop this, we are above this, not because we hold office or because we once had political influence or even because we have something man made to be proud of, but because of who and what the Bible professes to be True.

And we can be proud of that, and we should revel in that, it should be so engrained in us that we cannot forget it. Regardless of who the president is or what war is being fought. Jesus, who serves as our mediator between us and God, whose death made it possible for us to gain entry into the most Holy Place and the Presence of GOD is still our hope. Get this, He does not serve as president, He reigns as King, His power is not based on Earthly Authority, but on an authority that is divine. He is the Son of God, the First Born of all Creation, before America existed, He was. Before the Church was established, before the first dawn of the world, He was present.

Christian, if there was ever a reason for Hope, it is that the God of the universe is still in control and present in the lives of the Saints. It is that He never breaks His promises to keep His people, to do Justice for them. That He sent His son to totally appease the wrath our sins earned us and defeat Sin and Death, to set u free from the penalty of our sins and to proclaim us Righteous in spite of our deplorable state.

We cannot fall into the plight of the Jews of Jesus day, searching for a military leader to free them from the oppression of Rome. We do not need someone to make our nation great again, especially when the idea of greatness is rooted in systematic racism and comes out of fear. We belong to the greatest nation in the Cosmos. Our citizenship and identity are so much greater than merely being American. We are sons and daughters of the Living God, citizens of the coming Kingdom.

Your hope is not in a man, not in a Macabean or Roman Ruler or Hitler type. Their attempts to cease power will only lead to destruction, and they will take you with them.

Believer, again I say, be bold, the hope that you have is greater than anything on this planet. The Joy that you know is not bound up in the events of Earth, but comes directly from the Father. Your power is not determined by the people in the media or our position in politics, but in the Spirit of God that is received at Salvation.

We must learn to use it, to speak the truth in love and to trust in the Lord with all of our hearts, souls and minds again, not in some political leader. It is time to abandon this perceived power and start to really do what we, as a body, are called to do. A task that can be accomplished without political power, because it is done by God, working in and through us, to advance His Coming Kingdom.

 

Sources:

Encyclopedia Britannica
The ESV translation of the Bible (Acts 1:6)

 

12973040_10154269785339245_3845786340930956602_oJonathan David Faulkner is a student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a Pastor, Musician and Writer. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree inChristian Education & Administration with a concentration in Urban Ministry

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