I don’t like the word “Evangelism”. Maybe it’s growing up with way too many televangelists on TV and sitting through an evangelistic series every year as a kid. But the word just makes me cringe. It’s one of those Christian verbs that no one else uses for any purpose. You don’t really hear of Muslims evangelizing. What probably turns me off about it is that inherently within this one word is a one way communication. Evangelism isn’t the same as discipling or mentoring. It doesn’t involve a relationship and sharing. Evangelists stand in front of hundreds or thousands of people at once and preach at them. But the disturbing trend I see anymore is how evangelism is seeping outside the confines of a pulpit. Organized religion is working to take even less personality out of sharing the gospel by engaging political measures to enforce the standards it has set for itself.
Philip Yancey in his book What Good is God says Jesus teaches “that the kingdom of God grows from the bottom up rather than being imposed from the top down. I’ve concluded that God goes where he’s wanted. As the corruption and economic indexes prove, Christianity can be good for society. But as that society achieves a level of comfort and prosperity, its citizens feel less need for religious faith. They live off the moral capital of the past. Meanwhile God quietly moves on, to a place that senses more need.”
Think about that for a moment.
Have we become too comfortable with our prosperity to need God?
If not, why then is religion more heavily involved in politics than ever before?
If Jesus were the focus of our lives, would we need legislation to show people how He changes their life?
If you look at places like China where Christianity is growing at an exponential rate, you’ll find that Christians stay as far away from government as possible (for good reason). They realize that the power of Christ lifted up is all that they need to change peoples lives. Throughout the New Testament followers of Jesus are told to “Render unto Caesar what is his” (Mark 12:17) and “Submit to those in authority” (Rom. 13:1). Jesus’ ministry was based on service, not hierarchy. “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” Matthew 5: 5.
The more I see Christianity engage in influencing government, the less I want involved in either one. Christians CAN NOT enforce the teachings of Jesus through legislation. You can’t force people to believe the way that you do. For every argument you provide, there is a counter argument. For every verse you throw out, there is another that someone else has to support their side. Rick Warren in a recent interview with ABC News says “Religion is a worldview, the same as any other persons worldview”. Religion therefore should be personal in formulating the positions of an individual, but should be weighed accordingly for the good of all in society whether they hold that same worldview or not. Otherwise it becomes a dictatorship.
Christian’s in the United States have lost sight of the how Christ-like living changes lives. They are no longer relying on the Holy Spirit to do the work of conviction in the lives of others. The trinity has become The Father, The Son, and The Lobbyist. We’re scared of walking the path, building relationships, and living a life called by Jesus. We’re afraid of rejection and ridicule, so we find a bigger power to help us enforce our ideals of “right living”.
I’m a Christian, but keep religion out of my government. Issues like gay marriage, contraception, and abortion have absolutely nothing to do with the level of education my children receive at school, the value of my home, or the price of gas. Whether a police officer is Christian or not, has no impact on how well I’m protected. That is the role of government. And the role of Christianity is to show, not enforce, the life changing power of a relationship with Jesus.