Beware of Political Allegiances (update)

A week ago I posted an article called Beware of Political Allegiances.

In the opening paragraphs of that article I said:

Despite the hostility often displayed over the difference of views about spiritual gifts there seems to be one area of regrettable agreement bridging across that spiritual divide.

Politics.

Today an example of the truth of that observation was posted on a well-know pastor/author’s blog.

He has been a consistent critic of Rodney Howard Brown for decades, and has recently posted new articles of criticism on his blog regarding Howard Brown’s statements about the Covid-19 virus, such as “quarantine is for pansies”.

However in his most recent article he finds himself in agreement with Howard Brown, even admiring his stance (regarding his recent brush with the law) before returning to his usual (valid) warnings about the danger of Howard Brown and his teachings.

But what was behind that agreement and admiration?

POLITICS!

From that blog:

Browne was arrested, then released.
Browne then made a public statement, saying “I did all of that for the Constitution”. Our US Constitution guarantees the right of Freedom of Religion. Congress can neither promote a particular sect or infringe upon any Religion.
Suddenly RHB is widely acknowledged and celebrated for having the courage of his convictions and for being willing to go to Jail for the constitution.

I have to admit , in this instance, He is right. He said something to the effect that for Governors and Mayors to ban public worship as “unessential” , while Walmart and Planned Parenthood remain open for business, is an affront to God, and to the church. I couldn’t have agreed more. There are a lot of aspects to this plague, but I am convinced that silencing the church is one of them.

I listened to his whole statement, which lasted about an hour, and on many , many points I found myself agreeing with him, and even admiring his willingness to follow his convictions, even to being arrested, mug-shot and put in Jail.

Oh, how the church, especially believers in America need to repent of their obsession with their nation and their idolatrous “patriotism”, and to turn away from their blind devotion to partisan politics.

The American constitution is NOT Holy Law, and defending that constitution is NOT a God given mission for followers of Jesus.

The current situation is NOT an attack on the church, to infringe upon “religious freedoms”. It is a God given opportunity for individual believers to fall on their faces before God, to seek Him for themselves instead  of abrogating that job to a church leader; to get into the Word for ourselves and discover what it REALLY says, instead of being fed  interpretations of scripture soiled by church tradition.

(see this recent article: https://onesimusfiles.wordpress.com/2020/04/04/10967/ )

I see the current situation, where we’ve all been distanced from church meetings and programs, is offering the perfect opportunity to spend more personal time in the word. For many who find themselves unable to go to work, there is even more time to fill, some of which can be used for extra bible reading and prayer.

It all depends on how much people want to know God and serve Him, instead of being satisfied with sticking to what they’ve been taught about God.

 

Beware of Seeking Political Solutions

Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. John 18:36 NIV

Looking for political ways to address a nation’s moral issues is futile.

Without a miraculous change of moral character from within – without countless individuals turning to Jesus, no nation will ever be changed. Legislation or any other political means will not, and cannot achieve it.

If we look at the first chapter of Romans, we see that moral decline in any society comes about through rejection of God. Then, because of mankind’s rejection of God, God gives mankind over to the many perversions that we often think of as things that will bring God’s judgement on our nations.

Therefore, it seems to me that we’ve misunderstood what’s happening in our world. For example, instead of society’s increased acceptance of sexual perversion being something that will lead TO God’s judgement on our nations, they are actually an expression OF God’s judgement.

See Romans 1: 18-32 and note the statements “Therefore God also gave them up to…”, and “God gave them over to…”, which describe God acting to reinforce humanity’s sin.

This is very much in line with 2 Thess 2: 11-12, in which God will send a strong delusion to people who “did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”
That strong delusion will make them believe the lie – effectively reinforcing the choices already made.

Nations already under God’s judgement will never be turned around through any political process, so we should stop supporting political ideologies in the hope that they will effect righteous change.
They won’t.

God is not working politically to make our nations more godly (or even “great again”). They have been given over to the sin they have chosen instead of Him. They are increasing in darkness as a result, giving a clear contrast with the light of God.
Those desiring the light will be drawn to the light of the world. We need to be ready to welcome them with the gospel.

As ambassadors of Christ we are not commissioned to improve the worldly nations in which we live.
It is our job to help its citizens migrate from the kingdoms of this world into God’s Kingdom, reconciling them with God. Only through significant numbers making that change of allegiance, could there ever be the possibility of nation being brought back from the judgement already on it.
But apart from Israel, does scripture give an indication that any other nation will travel that route of “revival”?

Maybe we need to ask ourselves why the desire for revival in our nations?

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 1 John 2:15 NIV

And what motivates that desire when scripture continually tells us to expect persecution in this world, not national acceptance.

You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. Matt 10:22 NIV

Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. Matt 24:9 NIV

If those predictions have never had some kind of fulfillment in our lives (and I confess they haven’t in mine – apart from some small incidents a few decades ago) then perhaps we should ask ourselves what we’ve been doing wrong – or maybe more appropriately, what we HAVEN’T been doing right, that would attract that kind of attention.

Beware of Political Allegiances

My previous two posts have been about the divisions between believers arising out of disagreements related to the ongoing ministry of the Holy Spirit.
Despite the hostility often displayed over the difference of views about spiritual gifts there seems to be one area of regrettable agreement bridging across that spiritual divide.

Politics.

Both “evangelicals” and “charismatics” kowtow to political forces in misguided hope of returning their nation to alleged past greatness, and especially to a mythical Christian past.

Such hopes are a dangerous fantasy, that not only lead to false expectations of “national revival”, they lead to an unholy hybrid of politics and religion (NOT Christianity as participants assume) that hinders the gospel, leads to false prophetic expectations, and will ultimately pave the way for a future political saviour: identified by Paul as the man of lawlessness.

I see this as being far more dangerous than anything alleged by either side of the divide addressed in my previous posts. Despite their condemnation of alleged “NAR” political ambitions, the other side of that divide are no less devoted to political outcomes than those they condemn as false prophets.

I regularly see and hear professing believers condemning “socialism” and/or “leftists” – as if those terms are describing Satan himself.
I’ve seen an American pastor/author justifying frequent anti-“left” tirades by saying:

” My issue is, which imperfect system aligns more with reality, i.e. the Word of God?”

The clear suggestion is that right-wing, non-leftist politics is more in line with scripture than the alternative.

Ironically this brings him in close political alliance with those he has condemned as false prophets in numerous books he’s written. Those who have also been accused of having a nefarious political agenda via alleged NAR affiliations. Only today I saw part of a video in which someone that the pastor would see as a false prophet was declaring the same kind of political rhetoric.

It’s a delusion based more on the lingering propaganda of McCarthyism than on anything associated with God or His word.

No human political system comes close to God’s word. Both socialism and capitalism are deeply flawed. In their extremes, one leads to authoritarian Communism as per Soviet Russia, the other leads to authoritarian Nazism as per Hitler’s Germany.

All trust (no matter how small) in particular human political systems to bring about godly solutions needs to be abandoned by those professing to be followers of Jesus. We are supposed to be part of HIS Kingdom and not promoting men’s systems or politicians.
We cannot serve two masters, but many try with their devoted allegiance to political powers, their hand-on -heart patriotism, and enthusiastic flag waving.

Those who have fallen for that kind of national and political allegiance need to look deeply at their priorities.

God’s Kingdom is NOT of this world.

Instead of finding common ground in ungodly political systems, surely it’s time to reconcile and come to a biblical agreement over KINGDOM issues: obeying Jesus, preaching the gospel as HE commanded (and the early church demonstrated – with signs) and loving each other as He loved His disciples.

COVID-19 and “Prophecy”

I’ve hesitated to post this because it involves something I’ve not previously experienced, and something that I’ve seen abused and misused in the past by others who have made “prophetic” claims. I can only submit this for consideration, in the hope that I’m not going off track. I’ve also been reluctant to jump on the corona virus bandwagon, considering it’s been given more than enough publicity everywhere else.

In recent months I’ve occasionally woken in the morning with particular phrases stuck in my mind.

The first time it was straight from scripture and related to a cancer diagnosis I’d been given: “To live is Christ, to die is gain”.

I’ve shared some of that on my blog recently, how I came to the understanding that God’s will relates to the first part – that life in service to Christ here and now is the preferred option, over the “selfishness” of going to be with the Lord.

The second time it was again scripture: ” God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God”. This led me to study the context, which took me into some realities of the new creation we have become, that requires us to take off the old and put on the new. I’m still learning the consequences of that and how it SHOULD be reflected in our lives and ministry of the gospel. I’ve also been sharing some of that.

Most recently it wasn’t a phrase of scripture, but a simple and seemingly obvious statement, considering what’s happening in the world at the moment. “Things are going to change”.

The following morning, there was a “flood” of thoughts continuing on from that, the first was “things are not going to return to ‘normal’, along with the term “tipping point”.

I got out of bed to write these things down and the phrase “bringing down nations” was added.

Then finally, “revival has started, but not in the form expected” brought an end to the morning “flood” of phrases.

I shared these things with a few trusted brothers and sisters to get their impressions.

To me there seems to be a flow – starting with something I personally needed, then on to truths applicable to the wider church, regarding our identity and God’s equipping of His saints for ministry. Then finally (so far) putting those things into a context of urgency.

I can only see my health diagnosis and the medical prognosis as part of a personal shake-up I needed to get me on track in preparation for wider change in the world.

It’s now a week later and I’ve come across a few claimed prophetic views of the current virus situation. Most of them are predicting that it will all be over very shortly – prior to Passover, which is only about two weeks away. That’s a message that seems to  have been grasped by the US President too – looking at returning business to usual by Easter. All of that in spite of what’s evident in the world right now, and particularly in the US which has just been reported as currently having the most cases of COVID-19 in a single nation. An end within two weeks would clearly be a miraculous outcome.

Those prophetic views have been expressed by several high profile individuals who all expect “revival” to come out of the current crisis. However their views of revival tend to focus on NATIONAL revivals – a turning around of nations (the US in particular since that’s where those expressing that “prophetic” insight are located).

While the optimistic outlook of a miraculous end to a world health catastrophe would be very welcome, and I would be pleased to be proven wrong, I don’t share that optimism.

One reason is that I find the “revival” they expect is based on a false hope. Revival has been on the minds of many in charismatic/Pentecostal churches for as long as I can remember, since my first association with them in the mid 1970s. I recall how much I longed for revival – basically because I thought it would make it easier for my family to hear the gospel and be saved, without me having to say much to them.

I see no reason for expectation of national revivals in scripture – apart from the many clear prophecies about Israel turning to the Lord AS A WHOLE NATION in the very last days. I suspect some of the expectation for revival in our own nations has been fuelled by a misapplication of promises made to and about Israel.

One example of this is the common reference to 2 Chronicles 7:14, “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

That is a promise/directive given specifically to Israel, a people of God who actually HAD a land to be healed – a land given to them by God Himself.

While disciples of Jesus are God’s people, we have no land to which that promise can be applied – the nations in which we live are not ours. We are part of God’s Kingdom and His Kingdom is not of this world. And can we really consider that anyone with current “wicked ways” could be thought of as a disciple of Jesus?

In this world believers will have trouble, not acceptance and comfort, something that we in the west seem to view with aversion, having never really suffered in the way those in the early church did and those in other nations currently do.

It seems to me that the current emphasis on national revival is focused on politics and political outcomes. I believe that contrasts significantly with God’s focus on His Kingdom and those who claim to represent it. And it is among those representatives that revival  is needed – to stir up, experience and share the abundant life Jesus came to give, to encourage others to migrate from the world’s Kingdoms to God’s Kingdom. There is no answer through worldly politics or politicians, and I suspect that the association of evangelicals with partisan politics will backfire as the sandy foundation of their political expectations are exposed.

Things are going to change and will not return to “normal”, no matter how much some people may expect and insist that we’ll push through the current situation and get things back on track on the other side. Whether that change is in process now or not, scripture makes it clear that it IS eventually coming, and in a much more disastrous way than anything we’ve experienced so far.

As for the term “tipping point”, it’s one I came across a few times over the days following my own reference to it, I assume it refers to the earlier two statements regarding change.

There will be a bringing down of nations – whether politically, economically, or in any other natural way, I’m not sure – but hopefully it will mean a bringing down of nations in the esteem and expectation of Jesus’ disciples, redirecting their attention and hopes solely upon His Kingdom.

Revival has started but not in the form expected – I can only write from personal experience that my commitment to God has been significantly revived, ignited by the need to face adverse personal circumstance in my own life. Maybe others are being faced with similar experiences.

As for revival beyond the personal, and particularly regarding any expected “end time ” revival upon the earth, I’ve long seen that as being associated with the kind of intense persecution against the saints prophesied in scripture. As persecution causes many uncommitted to fall away, this “pruning” of fruitless branches will lead to more fruitfulness in those branches that remain, those who are genuinely committed to Christ.

That increased fruitfulness will lead to a more genuine witness of, and  bringing more people into, the Kingdom.

But that kind of revival OF THE CHURCH is far different to the “glorious” nation-changing move of God that seems to be the expectation of others.

 

 

 

Overruled

FAI have developed a close relationship with the Kurds, desiring to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ to that oppressed people. FAI have produced two films, Better Friends Than Mountains I and II, to highlight the plight of the Kurds, and the work being done to introduce them to Jesus.

The recent political betrayal by Donald Trump (initially via Twitter announcement) when he gave the Kurds into the hands of hostile Turkish forces, clearly made the Christian work of FAI more difficult.

Not surprisingly FAI organised a Night of Prayer For The Kurds”.

But what WAS surprising was the venue chosen. The Presidential Ballroom of the Trump Hotel in Washington.

I was clearly not the only one to find the lack of wisdom in that choice, and the group found the need to release a video on YouTube only a few days ago attempting to justify that choice.

But how quickly things change.

change.png

Only days after posting that video, the choice of venue was over-ruled, their chosen meeting place was denied to them, and an alternative had to be found.

While the official word is that the Trump Hotel revoked the reservation – I suspect One higher than the hotel management, One higher than the man whose name the hotel bears, One above the politics of man, stepped in and over-ruled a questionable venue choice – declining to have His name associated in anyway with Godless politics and politicians, (unlike far too many “evangelical” Americans)

 

Lost the Plot!

How the culture warriors have lost the plot by Julia Baird (Sydney Morning Herald

This fortnight, one powerful bloke insulted the religion of more than two billion people on the planet, effectively calling the Virgin Mary a lying slut. And one small teenager sat in front of a crowd in New York, wrought with grief and anger, and called for immediate, expansive action on climate change to protect the earth for her, and future, generations.

So guess which one was mercilessly trolled, denigrated and abused by our most prominent commentators?

The whole article can be found here:
https://www.smh.com.au/national/how-the-culture-warriors-have-lost-the-plot-on-kyle-and-greta-20190927-p52vir.html

[Caution – the statement from the “powerful bloke”, is quoted in the article and is offensive.]

The article writer points out that some of those responsible for the “denigration” of Greta Thunberg identify as Christian.

One of the names listed is Lyle Shelton who was managing director of the Australian Christian Lobby from 2013 to 2018.

Considering their clear willingness to condemn a young girl whose message they find offensive – where has been their condemnation of someone who basically described the mother of Jesus as “a lying slut”? [The actual statement is quoted in the article].

Why is it that professing believers in Jesus seem more interested in opposing climate change, and attacking those who recognise it’s validity, than in defending one of the most foundational truths of their claimed religion – namely the virgin conception of Jesus, the Son of God?

I’d also like to know what drives so many professing Christians to antagonism against the evidence showing the reality of climate change.

It’s not as if a changing climate, and mankind’s role in it, is somehow contradicting the Bible. The Bible makes it clear that God gave dominion over the earth to man – and that man’s sin resulted in the perfection of creation being marred, and suffering “the bondage of corruption”. However the reality of that bondage should not lead to an abrogation of Christian concern for God’s creation.

Opposing the clear signs, the science and the observable experience of obvious change to the climate is at best foolishness, and at worst inspires further contempt from the world upon believers – putting followers of Jesus into the same category as flat earth proponents (who, sadly, are also often professing Christians).

Those driving the climate change denial message are those with the most to lose from the changes needed to address the climate problem: namely those profiting from the industries that have caused it: fossil fuel billionaires, and the politicians whose careers those billionaires have financed.

So what is the motivation for Christians to align with climate change denial, if not the misguided marriage between those Christians and political opportunism, if not that unholy hybrid that has become the “religious right”: a blend of conservatism and the prosperity “gospel”?

There has been a political yoking of “Christians” to the pursuit of wealth as a sign of God’s blessing, in which the wealthy are lauded and the needy are trampled – a complete contrast to the attitude of the early church described in Acts 2:

All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Apart from the different attitude to caring for those in need, that last sentence should also scream out to us – that “the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” The added number being referred to clearly wasn’t a number of dollars and the saving wasn’t something associated with bank accounts.

So I’ll ask again, if its not about money, if its not about political ideology, if it’s not about theological truth – what is the reason for climate change denial among Christians?

children that you spit on

 

Greta Thunberg is a true leader by every definition” by Mitchell Adams,
Sydney Morning Herald. September 25, 2019

The lyrics in the second verse of Changes by the late great David Bowie perfectly capture the events leading up to this week’s UN Climate Conference.

“And these children that you spit on; As they try to change their worlds; Are immune to your consultations. They’re quite aware of what they’re goin’ through.”

These incredibly potent words swirled through my head while I watched in awe as 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg gave heads of governments a well-deserved spray over their lack of action regarding climate change. Some of them, including our very own Prime Minister, couldn’t even have been bothered to show up to the conference.

https://www.smh.com.au/national/greta-thunberg-is-a-true-leader-by-every-definition-20190925-p52uqd.html

Amazingly, over the past few weeks, seemingly every conservative commentator, every internet troll and every tin hat-wearing conspiracy theorist has thrown one giant co-ordinated tantrum over Greta, all using some form of dehumanising and degrading language to describe her and paint her in as negative light as possible.

Under the weight of this constant harassment for weeks on end, even the toughest and bravest of adults would probably have a severe mental breakdown.

But instead, Greta responded in a manner that showed she possesses more maturity and leadership than any of her critics. Taking to Twitter, she said:

“When haters go after your looks and differences, it means they have nowhere left to go. And then you know you’re winning! I have Aspergers, and that means I’m sometimes a bit different from the norm. And – given the right circumstances- being different is a superpower.”