12 April 2013

On letting our light shine in the political realm...

Every Friday, to commemorate the stellar contributions to internet apologetics and punditry made by our founder and benefactor, Phil Johnson, the unpaid and overworked staff at TeamPyro presents a "Best of Phil" post to give your weekend that necessary kick.

This excerpt is from the blog back in June 2008.  Phil challenges us to maintain a proper focus regarding political activism.

As usual, the comments are closed.

One of the greatest dangers of the political activism of the so-called "religious right" is this: It fosters a tendency to make enemies out of people who are supposed to be our mission-field, even while we're forming political alliances with Pharisees and false teachers.

To hear some Christians today talk, you might think that rampant sins like homosexuality and abortion in America could be solved by legislation. A hundred years ago, the pet issue was prohibition, and mainstream evangelicalism embraced the notion that outlawing liquor would solve the problem of drunkenness forever in America. It was a waste of time and energy, and it was an unhealthy diversion for evangelicals and fundamentalists during an era when the truth was under siege within the church. Lobbying for laws to change the behavior of worldly people was the last project evangelicals needed to make their prime mission in the early 20th century. Just like today. Remember Galatians 2:21: "If righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain." And Galatians 3:21: "If there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law."

We have the true and only answer to sins like homosexuality, divorce, drug addiction, and other forms of rampant immorality. It's the glorious liberty of salvation in Christ. It's a message about the grace of God, which has accomplishes what no law could ever do. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation—Good News that truly changes hearts—and we need to proclaim that message. Politically-driven hostility against our neighbors is not the best way to let the light of the glorious gospel of Christ shine unto them.

We're like lighthouse keepers in a dark and stormy world. We've been given a mission of rescue and mercy. We can't be like James and John, who in a moment of weakness and immaturity wanted to call down fire from heaven to annihilate some unbelievers who took an opposing stance...

If you don't have a sense of deep compassion and heartfelt benevolence toward sinners, you're not letting your light shine. If you, as a redeemed sinner, look on other sinners with no feeling but disgust, that's nothing but pride. That was the very sin of the Pharisee in Luke 18:11, who "stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican." And Jesus said that attitude is what kept him from being justified in God's eyes. Jesus, by contrast, "when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd."

That's the perspective it takes to be a true light in this world.