Governing and Politics - Why Christians are Getting Beaten at the Game
Saturday, November 16, 2019 1:36 PM

Governing and Politics - Why Christians are Getting Beaten at the Game

Saturday, November 16, 2019 1:36 PM
Saturday, November 16, 2019 1:36 PM

One of the greatest mistakes among Christians today in relation to governing and politics is that many mistake them as one in the same. And when we throw our support behind a party or person who speaks “Christianese,” we often are left disappointed or disillusioned when our winner turns out to be “just another politician.”

While we are citizens of America, we must remember that our citizenship is in heaven.

As such, we are obligated to vote according to our citizenship. There are two systems at play of which even some Christians who run for public office may be unaware. And because of this unawareness, fall victim as they are sometimes caught in the tension of the two.

Let’s take the rare view of looking at these systems biblically – the system of governing and the system of politics – each representing a kingdom. The system of governing – the Kingdom of God and the system of politics – the Kingdom of Darkness (i.e., the World).

Can politicians be Christians? Of course. Can Christians be politicians? Yes. However, if they lose their perspective and begin viewing their service politically rather than biblically, it will be to their peril. The system of governing and the system of politics are more spiritual than political.

The two systems have less to do with donkeys and elephants and everything to do with the Lamb and glorifying our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Governing is of God. Politics is of the god of this world. It is a worldly system and we can never beat the devil playing by his rules on his turf.

Christian public servants must always have a healthy awareness of the desperate need for Holy Spirit guidance, protection, wisdom, and discernment.

Government was established by God in Genesis 8 and is the earthly authority given by God through people and institutions to rule in order to keep society stable and orderly. In Romans 13, Paul refers to it as “a minister of good” (Romans 13:4).

Politics on the other hand, is the worldly system established by man to gain authority primarily by promoting, influencing and/or forcing acceptance of one’s own views, positions or platforms of a collective group (i.e., party) on others in order to gain control for the right not to minister, but to rule.

It is a “me first, my way” system – reflective of the one it represents.

Please do not misunderstand me. I am not saying that politicians are evil, but what I am saying is that the system of politics is. Why? Because it reflects the values of the “god of this world” – Satan (2 Corinthians 4:4).

Though this sounds radical, it isn’t. It is biblical. And until Christians learn to filter everything through the lenses of biblical truth, particularly government in this day and age, we will until Jesus returns, continue to come up short and have lessening impact on the culture.

This is where God’s people get tripped up and will continue to get tripped up unless we take a step back and look at governing and politics the way God looks at them.

A Biblical View
Government is the earthly authority given by God through people to rule in order to keep society stable and
orderly. Would anyone say our society is stable and orderly today? Why isn’t this the case? Because politics,not governing rules the day.

We are reminded in 1 John 2:16, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the father, but is from the world.”

Let’s look at politics through the lenses of 1 John 2:16. Satan’s goal from eternity past is to be like God (Isaiah 14:14). Satan, the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4) has been allowed by God to rule over world systems, among them, the political system.

There are three absolutes of which only God can lay claim, but ones Satan in his never-ending quest to be like God, consistently and desperately seek for himself:


1. Prestige – God is in a class all by Himself – Satan wants the prestige that is only ascribed to Holy God


2. Position – God alone is the Most High – Lucifer before the fall said he would be like the Most High


3. Power – All power of heaven and earth are in God’s hands – Satan craves and seeks absolute power

So, what does this have to do with politics? Because politics and hence politicians take on the characteristics of the god of this world system. The more believers reflect the character of the Enemy, the less we will reflect the character of God.

The three distinct absolutes mentioned above and desirous of the god of this world are the same desired by politicians who are more focused on promoting and serving self than serving people.

In relation to 1 John 2:16, it plays out like this: “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh (desire for prestige) and the lust of the eyes (desire for position) and the boastful pride of life (desire for power), is not from the father, but is from the world.”

The difference between a politician and a servant is that the servant seeks to be vulnerable and humble to be used by God as a minister of good for His people. The politician seeks for him or herself prestige, position and power often at the expense of the good of the people.

Satan’s goal is to be like the Most High and he aptly uses the world systems and people (even sometimes Christians) that God has allowed him to control to never cease trying to accomplish this.

This is why it is important for God’s people as elected and appointed leaders to turn back to Him and consistently put Him
first. There can be no lasting victories using the tactics of the world, nor lasting peace.

Just as it is foolhardy to fight fire with fire and expect to extinguish it, it is just as foolhardy for Christians to take on the characteristics of the Enemy for the sake of politics and expect God to intervene and bless. He won’t do it. And we are seeing this played out in America today.

In every aspect of life, we are in the world but not of the world (John 17:16). Politics is of the god of this world. Governing is of the God of the Bible.

To govern effectively and impact the culture exponentially, we must turn back to the God of the Bible and trust Him enough to run for and serve in office His way as reflections of His glory; and then watch as He empowers us to govern and once again demonstrably impact our culture.


Dorothy Burton is the founder of Christians in Public Service and is a popular conference speaker and author of the book, Why We Fall: The Power of Self-Awareness. Follow her new Podcast, "Making Sense with Dorothy Burton" for provocative discussions on life, liberty and the pursuit of truth in culture, Christianity, public service and leadership. Contact Dorothy:
dburton@cipsinc.org
dorothy@dorothyburton.com

 

There Are Leaders Then There Are True Leaders
Friday, November 15, 2019 12:42 PM

There Are Leaders Then There Are True Leaders

Friday, November 15, 2019 12:42 PM
Friday, November 15, 2019 12:42 PM
Leadership requires obedience and sacrifice not accolades and praise. If you need the applause, approval and praise of people you will be slow to start, quick to finish and never become a true leader - no matter how many alphabets are behind your name and how many leadership classes you take.
 
In fact, true leadership can't be learned in the classroom, only leadership theories and principles can. True leadership is learned from failures, trials, errors, experience, mistakes, betrayals, losses, maturity, a moral compass that points true north; a keen sense of self-awareness and a finely-tuned BS Meter. You will need this Meter to detect people on your team and in your space who laugh and talk with you to your face but despise and detest the very ground you walk on.
 
You have to be able to detect but privately reject them. Count on them always wanting to be on your team or come to your event not to support you - not even to be nosey - but to find more cause to be jealous and more reasons to hate.
 
You would think haters would want to spare themselves but this is what fuels them. Your success is the gasoline in their hate tank. Learn to smile at the devil but never be fooled into playing kissy-face with the devil in your enemy.
 
Christians call it discernment. The world calls it being skilled to measure the level of BS in word and deed. Whatever you call it, you'd better have it if you are going to lead. Without it, you are DOA - a dead man or woman walking. It won't be long before you become the prey. As a leader, you are always somebody's target and if you don't get this, you will become the prey. Pray you don't. Pray for discernment. Discernment sheds light on enemies and in the darkest crevices of their plans and schemes against you. Without it, we can merely guess - and it can be costly to guess wrong.
 
You have to not be swayed by folks' titles and money because if you are swayed by that, they will hold sway over you. No matter your title, they will lead you by the nose because they know that you think you can't do without them and you are oh so enamored by them.
 
Somewhere along the path of leadership, you will have to walk in courage and show folks that you really don't need them. If they take their money, more will come. If they leave, someone else will take their place. That's just the way it is. You have to lead like that. Otherwise, folks will lead you like that.
 
If people ever think you need them and can't do without them, they will invariably begin treating you that way and you will be at their mercy. Don't even begin to go there!
 
Leaders are peculiar people. If you have to fit in, quit and quit now! Leaders don't fit in, they stand out. Some will call you standoffish and if that bothers you, have a seat. In fact, have several. True leaders aren't standoffish, they just can't stand to waste time on anything or anybody that doesn't yield the results they need.
 
Many want to and do wear the title "Leader," but few will want to wear the scars. Scars that every true leader will have - those that come from making your way up the rough side of the mountain and sometimes sliding back down and all you have to show are calloused hands, bruised backside but a dogged determination to get back up again.
 
Bottom line. The real difference between leaders? There are true leaders and there are leaders. Most leaders are just leaders. No big deal. They have the title, the office and all the trappings. But that doesn't make them a true leader.
 
True leaders have the receipts. Those who lead merely have the certificates.


Dorothy Burton is the founder of Christians in Public Service and is a popular conference speaker and author of the book, Why We Fall: The Power of Self-Awareness. Follow her new Podcast, "Making Sense with Dorothy Burton" for provocative discussions on life, liberty and the pursuit of truth in culture, Christianity, public service and leadership. Contact Dorothy:
dburton@cipsinc.org
dorothy@dorothyburton.com

Assigned or Sent?
Tuesday, October 29, 2019 1:04 PM

Assigned or Sent?

Tuesday, October 29, 2019 1:04 PM
Tuesday, October 29, 2019 1:04 PM

 

When we know better, we do and comprehend better. Up until fairly recently, I would say, I was on assignment. That God had given me, you, all Christians an assignment to complete.

How many times as a Christian have you said, you want to complete your assignment? Or, God has given you an assignment? I even recently did a whole podcast on being assigned and being on assignment for God! 

I have, however, learned better. We don't have an assignment to complete but a purpose to fulfill.

And everything God does, Satan copies.

I thank God for my theological training, but I have of late been spending an inordinate amount of time studying the ways of our forever enemy - Satan. That great dragon of old, the prince of the power of the air, the god of this world, Diabolos, the devil. His title is the devil, but his name is Satan.
 
Jesus called him "the Adversary" and this Adversary, Satan "assigns" demons (principalities) to people, cities, communities, even nations.
 
And depending upon God's purpose for your life and mine (i,e., the impact you will have for God and the Kingdom) will determine the number of or type of principality or demon(s) the god of this world (Satan) assigns to you and me.
 
There is an old saying, "higher levels bring bigger devils." That in reality is true. If you or I pose little to no threat to Satan and his program of evil, we will get little to no resistance. However, if our purpose is to strike a blow or blows in a meaningful way to his plans, we can expect him to blow back through opposition, by way of demonic activity which is certain to come against us.
 
As elected and appointed leaders, we should always be on guard for attack because of the great influence we have over people and resources in the seats of power - the world systems of politics and government.
 
And attacks will come in various ways - attacks against our mind so that we are unable to think clearly and make sound decisions; attacks against our family to get to us; surprise attack from people in the community, or stepped up attacks from known enemies. Attacks against our or loved ones' health. Unusual and intense temptation, either sexual or in the area of money or illicit financial gain. Attacks against our marriage, finances - always hitting us where it hurts - emotionally or physically.
 
If a man or woman is having great impact and it is obvious God has purposed them for great impact and they are enjoying financial and professional success - and, it appears everything they touch turns to gold? Take my advice, do not ever wish you were they. EVER. 
 
You see their public glory but you have no idea of their private story of pain and anguish. And in this world, sooner or later, no matter how Christian we are, much success invariably will bring much pain in some form or the other. As sure as day follows night this is true.
 
The Apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 16:9 - "For a great door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries." For every great door God opens, on the other side will be great opposition.
 
The bigger our purpose, the more powerful the principality Diablos is going to assign to you and me.
 
Don't ever aspire to be "big." Aspire to be what God has purposed you to be and let that be sufficient. Because if God has purposed you for it, He already knows and has equipped you for it. He will equip us but we must always remember to dress for battle. And know that you can't fight your battle wearing someone else's clothes.
 
David learned this before he went out to fight Goliath. When Saul dressed David in his clothes, David soon shed them because he couldn't fight his battle wearing Saul's garments (1 Samuel 17:38).
 
Neither will you or I be able to fight our battles clothed in someone else's garments of title, position or influence. God has dressed us (equipped us) internally for the internal and external battles He knows we will face.
 
God sends us out to fulfill the purpose for which we were born. As did Jesus who sent out his disciples and commands of us to "go."
 
We have been sent by God filled with possibilities and purpose. God sends. Satan assigns. Remember this. And the same person God sends, Satan will sometimes twist their mind and trick them so that they have no idea they have been co-opted by him.
 
This is what happened to Peter when he spoke up and tried to talk Jesus out of going to the cross (Mark 8:33). To which, Jesus openly rebuked him but instead of Peter, Jesus called him "Satan" because Jesus knew it was Satan speaking through Peter.

Satan is no joke. He plays for keeps and doesn't fight fair. That's why we must always pray and seek God. 
 
Don't ever say you have been assigned to anything or anybody. Jesus, scripture says, "sent" out disciples and we never read where he "assigned" disciples to do anything. He doesn't today. He sends. "Go, He tells us, into all the world..." Not, "I am assigning you to go..."
 
It is as simple and as complicated as this - God sent His son, Jesus. Satan assigned his son to Jesus - Judas. And as people of God we, like Jesus, have been sent. 
 
But walk in the awareness that someone too has been assigned to you.

Ephesians 6:10-13
10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 
11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 
12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 
13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand...

Dorothy Burton is the founder of Christians in Public Service and is a popular conference speaker and author of the book, Why We Fall: The Power of Self-Awareness. Follow her new Podcast, "Making Sense with Dorothy Burton" for provocative discussions on life, liberty and the pursuit of truth in culture, Christianity, public service and leadership. Contact Dorothy:
dburton@cipsinc.org
dorothy@dorothyburton.com

WHEN NATIONS OBEY
Monday, October 28, 2019 5:19 AM

WHEN NATIONS OBEY

Monday, October 28, 2019 5:19 AM
Monday, October 28, 2019 5:19 AM

"At one moment I might speak concerning a nation or concerning a kingdom to uproot, to pull down, or to destroy it; if that nation against which I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent concerning the calamity I planned to bring on it. Or at another moment I might speak concerning a nation or concerning a kingdom to build up or to plant; if it does evil in My sight by not obeying My voice, then I will think better of the good with which I had promised to bless it."
Jeremiah 18:7-10

God gives us choices. He gives every nation a choice. He's giving America a choice. Read those passages again. We have worn out, "If My people who are called by my name....." Politicians and preachers have worn this verse out. Not so with Jeremiah 18:7-10 --- God speaks specifically here about obedience. It takes more than humbling ourselves, praying and turning --- along with those, we must obey. Without obedience we may as well forget about 2 Chronicles 7:14.

Obedience is better than sacrifice and without obeying fully God's word and Jesus' simple and clear command to love God with all our heart, soul and mind and to love our neighbor as we love ourself -- we can be as religious as we want and keep quoting 2 Chronicles 7:14 until we are red, white and blue in the face and America will still keep going down.

Obedience to God in the whole, not just the parts that fit our patriotic political platforms; and, loving our neighbor (including the alien) as we love ourself will bring the blessing of God on America.

Why are we in such turmoil? Well God clearly tells us in Jeremiah 18:7-10. Read it again. Out loud. Real slow. Then ask yourself why in the world had you not seen this all along?

God is yet in control. Not the President. Not Congress. And even the Supreme Court doesn't make the final decisions only the most Supreme and Holy God.

Unwrap the flag from around the Bible it doesn't belong there. God first, not America or any nation first! We'd better recognize that what God has spoken will surely one day be. He gives us choices.

"If it (a nation) does evil in My sight by not obeying My voice, then I will think better of the good with which I had promised to bless it. " - Jeremiah 18:10


Dorothy Burton is the founder of Christians in Public Service and is a popular conference speaker and author of the book, Why We Fall: The Power of Self-Awareness. Follow her new Podcast, "Making Sense with Dorothy Burton" for provocative discussions on life, liberty and the pursuit of truth in culture, Christianity, public service and leadership. Contact Dorothy:
dburton@cipsinc.org
dorothy@dorothyburton.com

Friday, October 18, 2019 9:51 AM

The Early Church Thrived Amid Secularism and Shows How We Can, Too

Friday, October 18, 2019 9:51 AM
Friday, October 18, 2019 9:51 AM

The pre-Christendom church managed to avoid both isolationism and accommodationism. Their model gives us a map for post-Christendom challenges.

attended seminary in the 1970s. I had to take several classes in the history of Christianity, though in those days it was called “church history.” My professor taught the course largely as a history of Christian thought. We studied orthodoxy and heresy in the early Christian period, monastic and scholastic theology in the medieval period, the Reformation controversies of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the evangelical awakenings of the eighteenth century, and the liberal theology of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, as well as its major twentieth-century critics (Barth and Bonhoeffer).

In general, we learned church history from a Christendom perspective. Questions of correct belief loomed largest, at least as I remember it. We studied it as a kind of history of the Christian family, which was our family.

In the beginning of my teaching career, I taught the history of Christianity in much the same way. My primary interest was Reformation theology and the evangelical awakenings, though I never totally neglected to tell the larger story. Students seemed interested enough, at least for a while.

But then students began to change, and their interests shifted. They started to question the attention to doctrinal precision that emerged during the Reformation period. They wondered about the emotion of the evangelical awakenings. Doctrinal faith seemed too abstract and narrow, emotive faith too fragile and insecure.

I was teaching a Christendom course, but my students were asking for something different. I discovered that they needed something different because they were (and still are) growing up in a world very different from the one that existed only a generation ago.

Together we—professor and students—found it in early Christianity.

They began to pepper me with questions. How did early Christians start and sustain a movement over such a long period of time (some 250 years) before Christendom began to emerge? How did the church maintain a steady rate of growth under such difficult circumstances? How did Christian leaders make disciples without the religious benefits and privileges we take for granted today? How did this minority movement influence the larger culture, even though the vast majority of people living in the Roman Empire did not assume Christianity was the one true religion, Christian ethics were the best way to live, and Christian institutions were worthy of special privilege?

The success of the early church was certainly not inevitable. Christians could have accommodated to the culture to win recognition and approval, which would have undermined the uniqueness of their belief system and way of life. Or Christians could have isolated themselves from the culture to hide and survive, which would have kept them on the margins—safe, to be sure, but also irrelevant.

Instead, Christians engaged the culture without excessive compromise and remained separate from the culture without excessive isolation. Christians figured out how to be both faithful and winsome. They followed what was then known as the “Third Way,” a phrase that first appeared in a second-century letter to a Roman official named Diognetus.

What made the Third Way so successful and fruitful? At the heart of it was the unique identity and mission of Jesus. Jesus Christ shaped everything that followed in his wake. No one in the ancient world had ever encountered the likes of him before. Romans had no categories for him and neither did Jews. Not even his disciples could make sense of him until after the resurrection. Jesus Christ summoned his followers to a new way of life because he was first and foremost the way to new life. In other words, it was his uniqueness that made the early Christian movement unique.

The Third Way spawned a new movement—new in theology, in story, in authority, in community, in worship, and in behavior. Christian belief was so new, in fact, that it required Christians to develop a process of formation in the Third Way to move new believers from conversion to discipleship, from outsider to insider, from observer to full-fledged member, which produced generation after generation of believers who, established firmly in the faith, were able to grow the movement over a long period of time.

What can we learn today from the church’s witness to Rome some 2,000 years ago?

At the center, of course, was Jesus Christ himself—human and divine, crucified and resurrected, suffering servant and triumphant King, Son of Man and Son of God. Early Christians believed that God had revealed himself as Jesus Christ. They claimed that this revelation showed the world who God is as well as what kind of people humans were created to be.

They viewed worship as a bridge between divine and human worlds, as if in worship Christians stepped into a liminal space between heaven and earth. They did not see themselves primarily as consumers who attended worship to hear a good sermon and sing a few familiar songs but as beholders of the unspeakable glory of God. Worship not only ushered them into the very presence of God but also prepared them to return to the ordinary life of market, home, and neighborhood as disciples of Jesus.

Christians embraced a new story, too. The story of Jesus opened their eyes to see history not as a narrative of the empire’s achievements—and atrocities—but as a narrative of God’s redemptive work in the world, which often occurs in quiet and mysterious ways. For them, Bethlehem and Golgotha occupied center stage, not the Roman court.

Jesus Christ reshaped identity. He promised to make people new creatures; he broke down dividing walls of hostility; he transformed how his followers saw themselves and treated “the other.” Primary identity in Christ changed all earthly and secondary identities—marital, ethnic, and economic.

Christians became a nation within a nation, a new oikoumene or universal commonwealth that spanned the known world, crossing traditional cultural barriers. Their primary loyalty was to fellow believers, not nation or race or tribe or party or class. Christians created a new oikos (house church), too, which established a different kind of family. God was true Father; they were all brothers and sisters. The Christian movement was therefore both radically global and local at the same time. Both oikoumene and oikos had the effect of undermining and transforming the traditional social order.

They lived differently in the world. Christians were known as the people who cared for the “least of these,” challenging Rome’s patronage system and culture of honor and shame. They lived this faith out with enough consistency and success to attract Rome’s attention, which is why Rome identified the Christian movement as the Third Way. Rome’s various responses—fascination, confusion, suspicion, opposition, persecution—only underscored how unique the movement was.

In the same way that it’s not easy to understand and to follow the Christian faith in our increasingly post-Christendom setting, it wasn’t easy to make sense of in a pre-Christendom setting. Which is why the early Christian movement established the catechumenate as a strategy of formation. This ancient Christian process of formation, which lasted two or three years, was both inherent to the faith and necessary for its survival and growth. It was inherent because discipleship was the only possible response to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. And it was necessary because the church faced stiff opposition and competition in the ancient world. The difference between Roman religion and Christianity was so great that the church had to develop a process to move people from the old world of traditional religion to the new world of Christianity.

Can this ancient movement speak to us today? It depends upon how fiercely we cling to the old arrangement.

As long as Christians assume we are still living in Christendom, the church will continue to decline in the West, no matter how ferociously Christians fight to maintain power and privilege. If anything, the harder Christians fight, the more precipitous the decline will be, for cultural power and privilege will come at an increasingly high price. Christians will either accommodate until the faith becomes almost unrecognizable, or they will isolate until their faith becomes virtually invisible.

Nothing short of a change of church culture will suffice—from a culture of entertainment, politics, personality, and program to a culture of discipleship. Such a radical change will require patience, steadiness, and purposefulness.

The good news is, we are not alone, and the story of early Christianity reminds us of this fact. Faithful Christians have gone before us, bearing witness to the truth of Christianity, the power of the gospel, and the high calling of discipleship. Calling out across the centuries, they tell us that it is possible now, as it was then, to live as faithful followers of Jesus the Lord in a culture that does not approve of it or reward it.

Two millennia ago, Jesus Christ—his incarnation, life, death, resurrection, and ascension—set in motion a movement that turned the world upside down. He is the same Lord today. It can happen again.


Gerald L. Sittser is a professor of theology and a senior fellow in the Office of Church Engagement at Whitworth University. He is the author of eight books, including the best-selling A Grace DisguisedThe Will of God as a Way of Life, and Water from a Deep Well.

This essay is adapted from his latest book, Resilient Faith: How the Early Christian “Third Way” Changed the World. Used by permission from Brazos Press, a division of Baker Publishing Group copyright 2019.

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