In yesterday's message from I Peter 2 (listen here!), we looked at how the Gospel should inform and shape our involvement in the political arena.
We discovered that the Gospel points in 7 directions. . .
- Toward an Active Engagement
- Toward an Exemplary Personal Lifestyle
- Toward a Submission to Authority
- Toward a Embracing of our True Freedom
- Toward a Humble Respect of All
- Toward a Patient Suffering
- Toward a Continuous Trust in a Sovereign God
Each of these principles is not only taught in 1 Peter 2, but embodied at the cross in the Gospel.
I had a "spirited discussion" with one woman after the service who thought I was way "too passive" in the second two thirds of the message. She liked the first part, but then thought I encouraged an uninvolved passivity toward the end. She clearly feels I/we should be doing a whole lot more to mobilize our people toward her favored political agenda. I gently tried to point her back to the text in 1 Peter 2. Her response was, "There are lots of other texts." Then she went on to state how Jesus was killed because he spoke up and confronted the injustice of His day. Her underlying assumption was that Jesus was killed for his political activism and outspokenness.
I think this is a common argument among those who believe that churches (not just individuals) should be jumping into the political fray. But I think we need to think a bit more about this point. Is that why Jesus was killed?
It seems to me that Jesus' harshest words and criticism were directed not toward the political establishment of Rome, but toward the religious establishment of Jerusalem. In fact, I'm not aware of one instance in the Gospels, where Jesus spoke out against the Roman Empire. When the religious establishment tried to entrap Him by asking about paying taxes, Jesus affirmed the necessity of paying taxes with his famous, "Render to Caesar" statement. When He didn't have the funds to pay taxes, He sent His disciples fishing to find the money in the belly of a fish.
In other words, this argument doesn't fly. Jesus was not killed for His political activism. Jesus was not killed by Rome, though the Roman leaders consented to His death by washing their hands of the matter. Jesus was arrested and killed by the religious establishment, who sought the permission of Rome to carry out their own devices.
I think all that we see in I Peter 2 is really striking against the backdrop of Peter's earlier attempts to take matters into his own hands through the exercise of force. Do you remember how he tried to cut off that guy's ear? By the time Peter writes, he is a man changed by the Gospel.
I'd love to hear your thoughts and comments, but I'd ask, if you weren't here yesterday, that you listen to the message first before commenting. It's a volatile topic I want you to hear the context before jumping in. . . .