I recently had someone say to me, “DeGroff, stop being so political.” This was during a discussion regarding something I posted on the Facebook page of a band I’m in. The band is a Christian rock band called GHF, (or God Has Forgiven). It’s made up of myself and two other members from the original Petra lineup.
Anyway, the discussion in question centered around my posting a link to these articles once they come out. I no longer post the actual articles on the page, but instead direct readers to ClashDaily’s site. The person I was having the discussion with felt that was even being too political.
My reply to that statement was, “Well, that’s not gonna happen. And I really believe that Christians can’t afford not to be political.” I also believe it’s gotten to the point now where our very existence in this country is a political statement.
We have some very straightforward Biblical examples of the power of being political. The Bible is full of politics and true believers in both the Old and New Testaments had to face the political realities of their time.
As a starting point to this, what do you think Moses was actually doing when he confronted Pharaoh? In the book of Exodus, there are, by my count, 15 different encounters between Moses and Pharaoh. (These can be found at Exodus 5:1; 7:10; 7:14-25; 8:1-6; 8:16-19; 8:20-32; 9:1-7; 9:8-12; 9:13-26; 9:27-35; 10:3; 10:8; 10:16; 10:24; 12:31)
While the many encounters with Pharaoh have always been used in a spiritual context, they are an example of an individual under God’s direction facing the political power of his era. With the help of Aaron (Ex. 4:14-17), and diligently following God’s plan, Moses was eventually able to lead the Exodus out of Egypt.
One of my favorite examples of a believer working within a political system is found in the book of Nehemiah. The Old Testament book of Nehemiah was written sometime around 445BC. Not much is known about Nehemiah’s early life, although it has been suggested that he was probably born in Babylon after the Jews sent into exile there had settled for a period of time.
Upon hearing that the walls of Jerusalem were in disrepair, Nehemiah first prayed to God for guidance and for favor before king Artaxerxes. (Neh. 1:4-11) Nehemiah was the king’s cup bearer, which put him in the king’s inner circle. Upon asking the king’s permission to leave Babylon and travel to Jerusalem, not only was that granted, but he was also given letters from the king that guaranteed safe passage, as well as providing for manpower and building materials.
The example here is of a believer preparing himself before God, petitioning the political authority of his time, and not only being given permission to do what he felt lead to do, but given the means necessary to accomplish the task were also provided. When facing a political reality that is oppressive, it’s obvious that God can direct you to find a way to work with and within that system.
Moving into the books of the prophets, we’re shown that they all had to deal with the political realities of the rulers they lived under, both Hebrew and foreign. Isaiah had to deal with Judah and Hezekiah. Jeremiah dealt not only with Jewish rulers but with the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel dealt with this same king also.
Christ Himself dealt with politics during his ministry. The accounts of his arrest and trial, found in all the Gospels (Matt. 27:11-26, Mark 15:1-15, Luke 23:1-25 John 18:28-40 and 19:1-15) show how deeply entrenched were the political rivalries between the Roman governor Pilate, Herod and the Jewish religious leaders of the Sanhedrin. Christ’s fate was turned into what we would call a political football, or a pass-the-buck moment.
Think of what He went through this way. Had Christ not submitted Himself to the political reality of His time and place, we would not have salvation.
As the first century church began to grow after the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, all the early apostles were dealing with what political realities they found themselves in as they began to spread the news of Christ.
A good example of taking advantage of a public forum is found during Paul’s second missionary journey that took him to Athens. (Acts 17:19, 22) At the time of the New Testament, Athens and Greece were under Roman rule. What had been known as the Areopagus Court was now called Mars Hill. Under Greek rule, it was the site of the highest court. Under the Romans, it became an open forum meeting place where issues of the day, including law, philosophy, politics and religion were discussed. Even under Roman rule, Paul was able to operate and preach the truth of Christ while working within the system.
In my own life, I’ve seen how backing away from political involvement can have consequences. When I was with the aforementioned Petra, we actually played at Princeton University in February of 1976. Wow, imagine that. A Christian rock band playing at Princeton. Given the PC-encrusted, snowflake environment there now, I don’t think the present study body will get to hear much in the way of Christian music…rock or anything else…any time soon.
So what happened in the forty-one years since that Petra gig at Princeton? As the slow, incremental changes in the spiritual life of a once world renowned university took place, no one took a stand at the university level, the community level, and even the national level, because…well, we shouldn’t be involved in politics.
These are all examples, Biblical and even a personal one, of the power of being political, and the consequences of failing to do so.
In spite of the Left’s best efforts, we still have freedom of speech…. for those willing to do so. Politics may be mean, spiteful, and now dangerous, but while we still have the ability to do so, we’ve got to get involved.
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me…and there was no one left to speak for me.
(Martin Niemoller, a prominent German Protestant pastor and publicly outspoken foe of Adolph Hitler. Neimoller spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in a concentration camp.)
In closing, follow the examples of praying for guidance, work within the system, but get involved. The consequences of not doing so are too great.
Image: Excerpted: Benjamin West – BJU Museum and Gallery, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2921109