Jews And Greeks, Republicans And Democrats

A couple weeks ago, my pastor, Mike Erre, pointed out something important about Jesus’s redemptive work. First He provided reconciliation between God and man, and then He abolished the barriers for believers that separated them from one another.

The Jews understood reconciliation with God–that was pretty much all those who were religious cared about, thinking that they had to perform to a certain high standard to bring it about. But they had no interest in reconciliation with other people. In fact, they believed themselves to be the chosen people who were to pursue separateness. They were to be religiously clean, and racially pure.

This, of course, was wrong thinking on their part. They could not do enough to be rid of sin, and they had long ago lost any racial purity. Joseph, for example, had married an Egyptian, and his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, were therefore not “pure” Jews. Of course, neither was King David with his Canaanite ancestor Rahab in his family line and his Moabite great grandmother Ruth.

Nevertheless, the Jews of Jesus’s day were determined not to be tainted by the racially mixed Samaritans living on their borders. Or by the Romans, if they could help it, or the Greeks.

Paul made it clear that this divide no longer existed in Christ. Jesus revolutionized relationships.

and [you] have put on the new self who is being renewed . . . a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all. (Col. 3:10-11)

Peter makes the same point. Writing to this mix of Jewish and Gentile believers scattered throughout Asia Minor, he said

But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD (1 Peter 2:9-10a).

In his letter to the church in Galatia, Paul expanded the number of barriers between people Christ broke down.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (3:28)

Barriers down. In house churches slaves sat alongside masters, men worshiped in the same room with women, and Jews prayed with Gentiles.

In truth there is only one category left–saved and lost.

But the lost are not the enemy. Again Scripture is clear:

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Eph. 6:12)

Flesh and blood–not the enemy.

Which brings us to Republicans and Democrats. Christians of either party are brothers and sisters of those in the opposite camp who know and love the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and Redeemer. Eveyone else is in the lost camp. Lost, but not our enemies.

If they choose to make themselves God’s enemy, that’s something for which they’ll one day face His judgment. It is not up to us to fire angry invectives at them in the meantime. In fact, our anger toward the lost plays right into Satan’s hand. It’s one of his schemes:

BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity. (Eph 4:26-27 – emphasis mine)

James says specifically

for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. (James 1:20)

To be honest, it’s easy when we discuss things about which we feel passionate to express ourselves passionately. That, perhaps, is the anger the verse in Ephesians is referring to. However, the do not sin part would mean it’s not OK to belittle others or call them names or demean them because they see things differently.

In short, Republicans are not the enemy, Democrats are not the enemy, Libertarians are not the enemy, Socialists are not the enemy.

As the US elections draw closer and the race for the President grows tighter and emotions run higher and debates or attack ads stir the pot, we Christians need to remember that our citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20a), that we are admonished to

keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things on earth. (Col. 3:1b-2)

If God is sovereign, and He is, then we don’t have to wonder or worry if He’s got a plan in mind should “the wrong” candidate win. No matter what, He will accomplish His purposes. Might we live less comfortably? That’s possible. Might we begin to see the door close on our religious liberties? That’s possible too. But that doesn’t mean it’s time to panic.

Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation and do not be troubled. (1 Peter 3:13-14)

Published in: on October 15, 2012 at 6:24 pm  Comments Off on Jews And Greeks, Republicans And Democrats  
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