Monday, November 01, 2004

Casual Discipleship

Pe 3:15 15But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always beprepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reasonfor the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect

In my attempt to sincerely express my belief in abstaining fromthe political process and all it entails I must begin with the most important question. What does Peter mean when he says, " set apart Christ as Lord"? At baptism all of us confessed Jesus is the Son of Godand Lord of our lives. Is confessing Jesus as Lord a casual expression?Does it entail a casual relationship? Does it necessitate a casual discipleship?

What is wrong with voting and participation in politics? In my view I see political elections as contests to see who is the greatest. It is a contest to see who has the greater credentials, the greater platform and the greater person. Political candidates seek to grab at the mantle of power. One can never have enough power in politics. They seek power no matter what the consequences. Many people see voting as power. We don't need to help decide who is greatest because Jesus already has an answer for us. We don't need to seek after power because the upside down kingdom of the suffering servant belongs to the poor in spirit.

What does the upside down kingdom looks like? It stands incomplete contrast to the fallen world in which we live. Those who want to live must die to themselves. Those who want to become rich must become poor. Those who want to be wise will look foolish to the world. Jesus says in Jn 18:36, "36Jesus 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." We are called to first seek this kingdom as it says in Mt 6:33, "33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."In baptism I became a citizen of this kingdom. The waters of baptism were the voting booth and The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit became my elected officials.

For those of you who are married, is your marriage a casual relationship where you are free to come and go as you please. Absolutely not, those of you who are married are the most committed husbands I know and fully appreciate the gift God has given you. The commitment to our relationship with God is the same. The disciple belongs to the Lord as Paul says in Ro 14:8, "8If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die,we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord."A disciple may succumb to many gods or idols, but he or she can onlyserve the One God as found in 1 Co8:6 "6yet for us there is but one God,the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live." The disciple cannot sit at two tables as Paul says in 1Co10:21, " 21You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord's table and the table of demons." Paul calls disciples us not to conform to this pagan world, but to be transformed in Romans 12:2, "2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good,pleasing and perfect will." Many see voting as always choosing the lesser of two evils. No candidate is perfect so some values must be sacrificed for the greater good. The disciple, however, does not lookfor the necessary evil that will sustain him or her, but is always searching for the necessary good which can transform them. In closing I would like to answer Jeremy's question. If I am so disinterested in voting and politics, then why do I open my mouth? It is because I desire to bring light to the darkness. It is a tradition that dates back to the prophets of the Old Testament. Amos especially was not afraid to critique Israel and its sin. Jesus himself was not involved in the political process and still confronted the Pharisees and the RomanEmpire. Paul is another great example of one who was disinterested, but still held the Empire accountable. Many misuse Romans 13 to justify all kinds of government action. But we forget that Paul is writing his letters from jail as he writes in Eph 4:1, "1As a prisoner for the Lord,then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received." Good, upstanding citizens don't get thrown into jail. Only one who stands in opposition to the Empire and refuses to participate in its pursuit for power is thrown in jail.

Gal 6:17, "17Finally, let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus". Are we prepared to bear the marks of Christ? He is not talking about a birth mark, but the scars from the whippings, the bruises from the punches and the scabs from the bleeding.The marks of Christ are the cost of committed discipleship. I believe voting and trusting political officials to be true to the kingdom allows many Christians to become casual disciples. I don't want to come across as being the 100% committed disciple. Though I believe I have made Jesus my Lord in regards to voting and political participation. I still have many areas in my life where Jesus is not Lord, the way I waste money and my language just to name a few. I apologize to for the lengthy explanation, but I am so grateful we can peacefully communicate our beliefs without name calling and still remain brothers. God be with all of us as we seek to transform from casual disciples to committed disciples who take seriously our confession that Jesus Christ is Lord.


  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by 2008

Back to TOP