Politics and the Kingdom (#617)

For those who hate us talking about politics, this may be the podcast to miss. But for those who like to hear Brad and Wayne talk through their differing views while guarding their friendship, this may be right up your alley. This is not about President Trump or partisan politics, but about how the kingdom of God interacts with the kingdoms of this world and the use of political power.Just how redemptive can we be in human political systems? Brad and Wayne couldn't be more at adds in how they view the political landscape nor how they feel God is asking them to interact with it. So, rather than fight over whose might be right and who might be wrong, they struggle to be honest with their perspective while still being supportive of the differing ways God can lead his people. (Warning: This one goes into overtime!)

Podcast Notes:
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  1. Met you Wayne in Jax Florida last night it was a real treat. It was a great q and a, great questions and wonderful answers. It was the first time in awhile that I was around new wide eyed believers looking for more… it moved me!

    • Steve. I was one of those “wide-eyed believers “! It was an awesome time with brothers and sisters who have gone before us and are willing to lend a hand to those of us just learning to walk this path.

  2. Very interesting discussion today. I think I must listen a few more times.

  3. What a timely discussion!!! Loved it! I really wished Wayne had the chance to finish the last question Brad asked concerning the disciplining of nations. I would also like to ask Wayne if he votes. I have debated this subject in my heart for 30 years and I totally agree with Brad and Wayne, however after 30 years of our walking with God, my husband and I believe that God does “use” “nations” and that He has blessed this country despite all our sins. Thank you so much for a honest and thought-provoking discussion!

  4. My perspective may be totally off here, so I hope others will offer another view if they see it differently, but I feel that Christianity as a whole has done some of its poorest work in the political arena. I’m not even sure we belong in politics. I think we terrify people when we use platforms of power to push the principles of our faith, even if they are good principles. There seems to be this militant “Take America back for God” mentality, and I just wonder if it would be better for Christianity to pull itself out of the spotlight and let the Holy Spirit work through individual interaction, like the good ole days.

    But at the same time, if Brad’s son is being called in that direction, then my view can’t be entirely correct. I want to hear some wisdom from older brothers and sisters because Christianity VS. Politics has been a difficult area for me to navigate.

  5. Brad, I hear you. You care. You hurt when others hurt. You want more for humanity. I think that is beautiful. Yet, what I want is not what is important. What is important is what God desires. He wants me to love my neighbor, the person right in front of me. That is all of the world that I can really affect/effect. I have given up on trying to plan things for God. “I am not the author of my own script.” When He is, then things always end up good for me/us. When I am, I try to do good, but often screw things up. I agree with you, Brad, but would limit it to I want to make my house, my street, my city a better place. If I can change Chicago, LA, or Singapore a bit, then I’ll try, but there are so many fallen humans like me trying to do things good and bad that we are going to (as history shows) continue to have problems. So when I see a problem in front of me, I try to shine His light into it. Beyond that it would just be me picking up a pen to write the next chapter of how William would control life around him. I just want to trust Him to led us to where we can do His will. Wayne and Brad, thanks for the discussion.

  6. I found the conversation around “Honoring” your mother and father interesting. My wife and I are foster parents. The things some mothers and fathers have done to their children would make your blood boil and your skin crawl. There are times I believe that even the ties of mothers and fathers has to be broken. For those children to even be asked to honor those “parents” is to cause more trauma than you can imagine. Yes, just by asking you would cause trauma. The terror some children feel when they have to go for a forced visit with their parent is real.

    Sometimes when there is danger to the child(ren) the state issues a no contact order against the parents. In those cases it seems that the child has no obligation or order to “honor” their biological parents. Maybe if Jesus was here he would say something akin to “Remember that thing I said about a millstone? Let them honor their foster parents and their adopted parents when (and if that happens).” – Of course that’s just me putting a human twist on what I’d like Him to say. But he did say the thing about the millstone.

    Define parent, define child. We’re adopted sons and daughters of God. So
    If a parent has seriously damaged a child, mentally, emotionally or physically – I just don’t see where they are still the parent if others are willing to take that role. Bio means so much to some people, to me it is about love. Love wins, love always wins.

    Gentlemen, please keep doing what you do. I laugh, I cry, I have a good time. I definitely am encouraged to move closer in relationship to my Heavenly Father.

  7. Loved that discussion guys! I totally agree that we need to be engaged in our culture as anointed, skilled, called, lovers of God. What happens when we stay in our little churches/houses/
    revivals – is exactly what has happened the last few years! Every area – including education and politics – have been ‘taken over’ by unbelievers. We as Christians have abandoned our posts. Whether it is as a janitor in a school or a legal counsel to the president – we can be salt. And light. We can SERVE in whatever capacity. And influence our world with the kingdom. I pray.

  8. Wayne – I am TOTALLY in your boat regarding the “Christian responsibility” in politics.

    Jesus did not instruct us to change the government; He called us to change hearts.

  9. Hello everyone, Following this conversation I can recommend an excellent book which (towards the end) discusses the mission of the church in the community and probably fits somewhere in the middle of Brad’s comments and Wayne’s comments. It is a pretty meaty read but as the bible doesn’t really teach that we go to a place called heaven when we die ( and, apparently most language around the topic in scripture is metaphorical not literal), I wanted to explore, what does it really say about what happens when we die. What we believe about that shapes the way we live before death. Does anything we do here and now count later ?
    The book is called “Surprised By Hope” by Tom Wright

  10. Enjoyed the discussion Brad and Wayne. Always food for thought.
    Gods love, mercy and kindness never ceases to touch my heart. He makes the rain to fall on the just and the unjust, the bountiful supply of a loving God toward man.
    Just a couple of thoughts on individuals and nations.
    How plain is the testimony of Lamentations in. 3:33, “For He doth not afflict willingly [from His heart] nor grieve the children of men. This speaks of compassion and His unfailing love.
    Yet even when the dark clouds of His judgment are hanging over a kingdom or an evil system, calamity may be averted by national humiliation before God and reformation of conduct ( Exodus 9:27-29); Amazing Pharaoh says . The Lord was right and he was in the wrong and asked Moses to pray for them and Moses said the thunder will stop and the hail will cease.
    Jeremiah 18:8: “If that nation, against whom I have pronounced [judgment], turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them” — as was most definitely exemplified in the case of Nineveh. That verse has, of course, no reference to the alteration of His eternal decree, but instead enumerates one of the principles by which God governs this world, namely that He deals with nations as with individuals — according to their conduct, making them to reap as they have sown, for His judgment is ever tempered by His mercy ( Judges 3:8-10). Jonah was reluctant to go to Nineveh because they were enemies of Israel and he wanted God to punish them. Gods heart is much bigger than ours, and His desire is none should perish for He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked
    May the Lord continue to have mercy and grace toward us.
    Bless you all

  11. wow…. this discussion needs to go deeper… appreciate the thoughts and counter-thoughts of the current podcast. my thinking in the political realm tends to be similar to where you guys have been in the “church” realm… jesus never made organizational strategies or plans about what the church was going to look like (he only even mentioned it in those two Matthew passages)… so how can i imagine him encouraging some kind of political strategizing along the lines of moral majority or something like a “Jesus-PAC”… just doesn’t seem to go with his character/way. (take my yoke upon you, for i am meek and lowly of heart…)

    I have been very encouraged by some of what i’ve read from Brian Zahnd — check out his book *A Farewell to Mars* I’d like to hear what Brad’s thoughts would be from reading that book… or John Howard Yoder’s classic, *The Politics of Jesus*… it might be interesting to hear you guys talk to someone like Brian, or someone from the stream of the peace churches (mennonites, quakers, etc.) — there are a lot of people who are just as passionate about Jesus as you guys from that perspective, believe me.

  12. I find often in these sorts of discussions that there tends to be either/or positions taken as opposed to both/and. This podcast certainly conveys the range of thought on the subject of political engagement, or cultural impact. What if it is both a passive approach to engagement and a purposeful approach to engagement? Where the mistake is made, I believe, is that one person presumes they are right and the other is wrong, when perhaps both are right.

    There is tendency for humans to impose their ideas or callings on to another. To ask for conformity to a common ideal. We are all individual unique individuals, created by God, with gifts and abilities that are uniquely our own. One person may be well suited to engage the political realm while the next has no interest and and does not have a created ability to do so. Yet the person with the ability assumes everyone else is like him and should be like him. The person with no ability to engage assumes the passive approach is the way that God wants everyone to be. But what if God wants the one to engage and the other to not engage based on their abilities? I could insert the word “calling” here, but it is a word that can is often misconstrued, and use the word ability or gifting instead.

    The Bible states that each of us has been gifted in certain ways, but not in all ways. For example, some are apostles, some are hospitable. Quite different roles and both are important. One is not more valuable than the other. The hospitable person has a skill set the apostle does not have. The apostle has leadership skills the hospitable person does not.

    I found myself leaning more to Wayne’s line of thinking, and was getting a bit irritated by Brad’s. But then I thought perhaps Brad’s way of thinking is not how I, personally, am created to engage with the world. It does not mean Brad is wrong or right, or I am wrong or right. We are different.

    But if Brad tries to impose his sense of direction from the Lord on to me, then a boundary is being crossed. Wouldn’t Brad be imposing his leading (based on his abilities) onto another person who might be lead by the Lord in a different direction (based on their ability)?

  13. Thanks for wading into this topic

    My bias up front is that I don’t see God’s kingdom coming to this world through secular means. I think it is transformed hearts

    But I encourage people who are Christian to be active in politics. Not because they are more right or Gods instruments

    Rather because we all live in this world warts and all

    And whatever we can promote that increases peace and compassion is a positive expression

  14. Such a good discussion. Oh that we could all have these more difficult discussions with respect for each other and maintain relationships. The discussion provoked just a few thoughts for me.

    As I have become older, it is more and more clear that each of us is called to do what He asks of us . . . not what He asks of others. While that may leave some room for interpretation, it is more and more clear to me that I must do what He asks me to do . . . listen to His whispers and respond . . . and refrain from comparing my calling with others and not asking others to conform to a uniform thinking. Is there room for differences? Difficult though not impossible.

    This discussion reminded me of a poem written by Sam Shoemaker, “I Stand at the Door”. One of the stanzas says, “Go in great saints; go all the way in –
    Go way down into the cavernous cellars,
    And way up into the spacious attics.
    It is a vast, roomy house, this house where God is.
    Go into the deepest of hidden casements,
    Of withdrawal, of silence, of sainthood.
    Some must inhabit those inner rooms
    And know the depths and heights of God,
    And call outside to the rest of us how wonderful it is.
    Sometimes I take a deeper look in.
    Sometimes venture in a little farther,
    But my place seems closer to the opening.
    So I stand by the door.””

    In the last chapter of John, Jesus finishes asking Peter if he loved Him and then tells Peter to feed my sheep. He finally tells Peter to “follow me”. Peter then asks Jesus what about this man, referring to the disciple, John. Jesus’ reply was, ““If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!”  As I apply that to myself, I understand that I should to be concerned about His will for someone else . . . I am to follow Jesus . . . listen to His whispers and voice and follow Him.”

    So as it applies to politics, yes I do want to see Christians . . . men and women of character, committed to seeking God’s will in developing and establishing policy involved in the political process, careful not to impose a religious agenda, but committed to seeing God work in the lives of individuals and the life of local, state, national and international government. We aren’t all called to life in politics . . . I certainly hope and believe that God calls individuals to political life. It is not easy to be politically active and maintain your character and a vibrant relationship with Jesus. That is why I believe I am called to pray for our leaders and seek to do my part in voting for men and women God has led to leadership. These are not easy choices for sure.

    Thank you for a thought provoking discussion . . . will have to listen again.

  15. I’m wondering if Brad or Wayne have ever read Bryan Zahnd’s “Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God” ? You may find it interesting in regards to kingdoms of this world verses kingdom of God. It is not your typical religious (evangelical) right wing way of thinking–Jesus showed us a better non violent way. He submitted and forgave in our violence and showed us the Kingdom way. Even if one doesn’t agree with it, it is very interesting and thought provoking. The beginning of the book–the “loving God” stuff in it is wonderful and very worth the read too… I’d love to hear your thoughts on it if you have read it. Thanks for all you do…

  16. I found your discussion stimulating and because of it I reflected upon Matthew 25:32. It is too easy to take our current notions about nations and push those ideas into the bible. The nations are people and the people come before God to be separated. It would seem to be far better for us to let the bible through the mediation of the holy spirit inform our notions of what nations are.

  17. Thank you for the warning in the description. I’ll skip this one – maybe that sums up my feelings on the subject.

  18. Thank you for the wonderful discussions over the years, Wanye and Brad. It’s a blessing to hear your thoughts on any topic you are thinking about. I always come away reflective of my own life’s God journey. Like Michael, I too am a foster parent, and hopefully soon will be an adoptive parent to two of our children who come from a very hard place. But I wasn’t thinking so much about Michael’s point about the need to sever terrifying relationships for the health of the children during this discussion (valid point though it is!) so much as the implications of how to actually change society for the better. Is it systemic or grassroots? Or both? My husband and I have been invited by the Lord to enter into one of the most difficult places in our society and asked to uplift the cause of the fatherless in our midst. We have to partner with a very broken legal system as it frustrates the cause of the helpless and delays justice, all while making someone money. I think most people working in it really want to help people, but the letter of the law often overpowers the spirit of the law. We are 3 years in with our children and still adoption delays due to the requirements of the law. It’s super hard and daily very costly to myself and my young family to love some of God’s children that have been so wounded by others, indeed by their own relatives who should have kept them safe, as Michael said. But the rewards will be eternal. I have to believe that. I guess my point is, where are each one of us invited to change the world? We follow a Jesus to find the place, the people, that we are individually called to come alongside in the world and we just do that next step He guides us to. I can guarantee our two children will never be the same because God asked our family to follow Him into the vast unknown. Their lives, their world, is forever changed and so the world is changed, two children at a time. The system doesn’t change, but the people in it do. You all know all this much better than I do, and have probably seen God work in many broken places time and time again. I just wanted to share I guess.

  19. Glad you did, Audra. I hope that was clear about this podcast. What God might be asking of each of us might be different than he asks of others. We each have light to follow, to do what we see God giving us to do in the world, and that will put us up agains the powers of this age that are often so self-serving. But you never know what God will change and what our faithfulness to him will do to make a difference in the world. I love what you’re giving to children who need it so desperately and I can only imagine the pain that comes when bureaucratic rules block real compassion. Keep hanging in there and may God grant you all the grace and courage you need.

  20. Wayne & Brad I thought you both did great! I’m sure I would have been yelling at Brad because of my assumptions of what he was going to say next. I would have just assumed he was being a “Fox News Parrot”. I have some very dear Christian friends who say and believe almost word for word, to me, some amazing things. They do have God in common, but these ones also have one other thing in common – Fox News. I personally believe Fox News, and not God or the whole of Scriptures as influencing many of these group beliefs. That being true or false wouldn’t have mattered to me. I would have been drawn into an emotional fight, not really listened, and accomplished nothing good. – Ugg

    So, what especially made me so blessed by this podcast is that it became so apparent to me you both are such good listeners, therefore both of your thoughts, on pretty much any subject, gets to be expressed to one another. We listeners get to be part of that! 🙂 It’s really such a joy to me, because it gives me hope that one day God may
    change my heart to learn to not only listen, but to be able to continue a conversation when the parties involved see things in a different light – And not only me but our “divided Country” also.

  21. Thank you for the kind reply, Wayne. It goes a long way. I so appreciate your’s and Brad’s hearts for people and yes, your podcast made that part clear! (PS. Fun fact: My husband and I met you in Denver almost 3 years ago at Michael and Susan’s downtown loft. They are your awesome Russia connection! We had just gotten placed with our children a few months before then. Small God journey world!)

  22. I wish I could recognize all the names of the people I’ve met. Thanks for making that connection. Love how God lets our paths cross.

  23. I thought of two points that could have added to this discussion and maybe can be a part of future discussions.

    1. I share with Wayne wrestling with the stark reality that neither Jesus nor Paul ever addressed themselves to the wickedness being carried out by Roman authorities. This does not preclude people, born from above, assuming positions of authority and performing them to the benefit of all, but that is not mentioned as a specific goal. However, when dealing with modern nations, in particular, the USA, I think there is a quite new twist in the discussion. That is that, unlike the Roman empire, ours is explicitly a participative system. That is, to obey governing authorities in spirit and truth, we are called to be informed, vigilant, and to participate. Thus, for example, if I were to interpret a call (like John’s to people) to “go the extra mile” within the context of our system, that would mean to help local authorities by coming to meetings, providing research and feedback, and recommending fresh ideas. It might even mean running for office. The new wrinkle on government structure does not mean it is or is not the Kingdom of God, but it does change how I think about my Christian interaction with government.

    2. Wayne said the church’s heavy involvement in the past several decades has been spectacularly unfruitful (not his exact words). I would suggest thinking of this question as, “what might have been even worse without the efforts of the church?” I think this question allows us to see that perhaps much good has been accomplished while still acknowledging failures in methods, strategy, and theology. To me, part of this discussion gets me to a tough question, almost one of eschatology. We know that the Old Testament physical kingdom of Israel demonstrated man’s inability in himself to sustain obedience to God in a government with God as king. So, with the “American experiment” (and its replications in various forms), is God’s ultimate purpose to demonstrate man’s inability to operate even a God inspired form of government without keeping central the need for people dead to sin? I don’t know. The founder’s made statements indicating that without God and the Bible, men would be unable to run this form of government. I don’t think any of us like to think of America descending into yet another failed Marxist state, yet that seems the “natural” state of human affairs. Yet, we know that God has plans for redemption, often in ways we don’t envision until it happens.

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