The church and politics have always been a place of great debate. Is there room for the church to have a say in how we view the world and culture around us?
The Church Meets Politics
Any ideology or a worldview or politics that pin themselves against the Christian worldview, that is idolatry
“People accuse the church of being slow. People accuse the church of not having a voice that’s prominent or having anything meaningful to say when it comes to any issues that we are facing in our society and our culture. Therefore, politics has become a better alternative to what the church is offering. We want jobs, we want them now, we want solutions. Politics seems to be capitalizing on this demand and really giving people what they need.”
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Top Quotes: The Church Meets Politics
“The Christian worldview presents a solution that steps into creation and steps into time, and that solution is Jesus”
“Any ideology or worldview or politics that pin themselves against the Christian worldview, that is idolatry”
“At the center of the Christian worldview is truth himself and that is Jesus and that’s who we are loyal to”
Other Content On This Topic
Text: Ephesians 5:1 – 21
Date preached: 7 November 2021
Location: Christ Church Midrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Good evening family I’m going to do the bible reading for us in Ephesians 5:1-21. “Therefore, be imitators of god as beloved children and walk in love as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us a fragrant offering and sacrifice to god. But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk or crude joking which are out of place but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure or covetous, that is an idolator has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. therefore, do not become partners with them for at one time you were darkness but now you are light in the lord. walk as children of the light for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true and try to discern what is pleasing to the lord. take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness but instead expose them. for it is shameful even to speak of the things they do in secret but when anything is exposed by the light it becomes visible for anything that becomes visible is light therefore it says, ‘awake or sleeper and arise from the dead and Christ will shine on you.’ look carefully how you walk not as unwise but as wise making the best use of time because the days are evil. therefore, do not be foolish but understand what the will of the lord is and do not get drunk with wine for that is debauchery but be filled with the spirit addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the lord with your heart. give thanks always and with everything to god the father in the name of the lord Jesus Christ submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” This is the word of the lord
Do We Still Need The Church
Church it’s very good to be with you and again it’s a privilege to be bringing god’s word to us this evening. My name is Blaque for those who are joining us for the first time and I’m the young adult pastor here at Christ Church, the most awesome ministry in this church. Tribe on the move. If you didn’t know now you know. All right um if you’re looking for a life group come chat to us. But if you’re joining us for the first time today or you haven’t listened to any of the sermons that we’ve been doing uh in this this new series that we started four weeks ago, last week we took a break obviously for Celebration Sunday, but it’s called Obsolete or Absolute Church. And the thing that we trying to get at with the series is really asking the question if the church is still relevant. Do we still need the church an institution that was established more than 2 000 years ago? is it still relevant for us today or are the better alternatives? if the pandemic has forced us to question anything it’s probably questioning how we do church. We can do church online or maybe you could just be at home do your own thing I mean we’re under lockdown did we stop being Christians? no we didn’t. So do we really need church? that’s the question that we’re asking in the series. And if the answer is no, we don’t need church, then we need alternatives. Rapha last week looked at how the church meets sex and money and the thing that he was addressing there is whether sex and money are better alternatives to the church.
The Church Meets Politics
Today we’re going to be looking at how the church meets politics, and we are asking the same question again. Are politics a better alternative to the church? And I think that’s a question that all of us need to be asking whether you’re a Christian or not. Whether this is still a relevant thing for us. So let me pray and ask the lord to help us. It’s not going to be an easy task. That he would really soften our hearts and open up our minds to hear him speak to us by his spirit. Let’s pray. Lord thank you for just giving us the opportunity to hear you speak to us through your word. father you’ve left us this book called the bible and this very book you tell us is your very breath. anything that we need for life and godliness we will find in this book lord. and so, I pray father that as you speak to us through the bible today that lord, we may not hear my voice, but we may hear your words and hear your voice father. holy spirit be asked that you would really soften our hearts as we think about whether we still need your church. help us to really get raw and honest with ourselves that if we believe we still need the church then we will behave like it. and if we think we do not need the church only you and you alone can convince us otherwise. so do that for us we ask in your wonderful and precious name we pray, amen.
“Christianity can never hope to remain abstract or removed from people’s environmental problems. in order to be applicable, it must have meant for them in their given situation. if they are an oppressed people, it must have something to say about their oppression” End of quote, Steve Biko. Biko said this more than 40-plus years ago, but you would swear that he’s still alive and he tweeted this last week because a lot of people and sadly even Christians are saying that the church and her faith are obsolete when it comes to addressing social issues. people accuse the church of being slow. people accuse the church of not having a voice that’s prominent or anything meaningful to say when it comes to any issues that we are facing in our society and our culture. therefore, politics have become a better alternative to what the church is offering. we want jobs we want them now, want solutions. Politics seems to be capitalizing on this demand and really giving people what they need. whether you voted for whatever political party you voted for the reason you did that is because you believe that they can solve whatever other issues that are in this world. and yet the church is viewed as very slow focused on the world to come neglecting the world here right now
What Is Your Worldview?
But church before we get rid of the church let’s probably define what politics means. So, if you think about formal politics that would include anything that has to do with civil society and civil servants. I mean we kind of expressed what formal politics looks like when we went to the polls this past Monday, and we voted in our local and municipal elections. but you don’t have to raise your hands, I don’t have to guess but I don’t think there’s a lot of people in this room who are registered card-carrying members of a political party. Some of you don’t even know what that is. You are not registered to any political party; you might have voted for them, but you don’t have a card that says you’re a member of that political party. That’s because most of us in this room are not intimately involved with politics or formal politics in that way. Yes, we voted, yes, we will read articles about politics, yes, we will engage in in political discourse, but we’re not really involved in formal politics that way. And so, I think we need a broader definition that will include all of us what politics is.
And Dr. George Grant helps us when he says listen to this I quote, “At its core or at its root the word politics literally means the engagement of the people with their culture.” he further goes on to say, “We do politics when we spend money, we do politics when we patronize certain kinds of media, we do politics not only when we go to the polls or display a bumper sticker of our favourite political party, but we do politics when we live our lives. so, if we are going to be principled about our politics, we need to think about everything.” End of quote. And what that quote is describing is what most of us know as a world view, a way of how we see the world. And world views are made up by a number of things. It could be your education your upbringing your values your faith or whatever it is but the world view that all of us possess here and all of us sitting in this room have some kind of world view. It’s a lens through which we view the world. We view culture, we view politics, we view religion, we view relationships through this thing called a worldview.
But a worldview is not just a lens, but it informs how we move how we act how we behave in society. you can tell what worldview somebody has by the way they act the stuff that they cherish the things that they value. And so, I think if we want to have a broad definition of politics that will incorporate all of us it will be cool for us to rephrase the question then this evening. instead of asking whether politics are a better alternative to the church let’s ask it this way, is the world view you are currently holding on to as you sit here this evening, is it better than the world view the church is calling you to through the bible? Ask yourself that question is the world view that you’re holding on to how you see the world how you move in the world how you act how you behave the things you believe the values that you hold is it better than the world view that the church is calling you to through the bible? if you’re a Christian this evening I will ask you in the words of Ephesians, are you living in a manner that’s worthy of your calling? are you living in a way that shows that you are a disciple of Jesus in a way that shows that you are called by Jesus to live life with him or if you suddenly believe that Jesus is failing you and you have better alternatives that you want to turn to? if you’re a non-Christian sitting here this evening do you think your life is better in any respect than anything in your life compared to the life that Jesus is calling you to? You might not have had the call by Jesus to come worship him and we will do that this evening but as you sit here do you think your life is better than the life that you’ll hear Jesus calling you to? All of us need to examine ourselves this evening we’re going to do that in three ways because most world views if not all world views rather have these three components in them. Things that they’re concerned about, convictions that come from the concerns, and then they have conclusions. So, I’m concerned about one thing therefore I’m convicted about that thing and then I will move and take action so that I can solve whatever it is that I’m concerned about. So, three components that we’re going to look at- concerns convictions and conclusions.
So, let’s jump into our first one, concerns. and I think with this in mind my job this evening, with the power of the holy spirit and god’s word is to convince you and convince all of us that the Christian worldview is better. so, there are my cards on the table. I want to convince you that the Christian worldview is better, there’s no other alternative for the Christian worldview. concerns – read with me verses 3 and we’ll stop their verses 5 of Ephesians chapter 5. But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you as is proper among saints. verses 4, let there be no filthiness no foolish talk no crude joking which is out of place but instead let there be thanksgiving for you may be sure of this that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure or who is covetous that is an idolater and has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. so, here’s one thing that we need to know about all world views is that they have a concern something that they’ve identified as wrong a problem something that that world view seeks to correct. Most world views ideologies or politics tend to find the concern of the problem within creation. so, I’ll give you examples. the problem is with men and so then the burden is on the feminist to try and figure out how to correct the problem that is men. The problem is with white people and so the burden then rests on the black people to try and figure out how to pursue justice. or the problem is with the foreigners and then the burden is on the South Africans to try and solve this issue of foreigners at any cost even if it means resorting to violence which we’ve seen in our own country. but most world views tend to find the problem within creation itself. here’s where the Christian worldview is radically different and way better. one, the Christian worldview agrees that there’s something wrong with creation, but it sees that as a symptom because secondly it rightly acknowledges that behind that symptom there’s a root cause there’s a power there’s a force there’s a poison called sin. this reality that man is separated from God the source of all that is good right and perfect, and the longer that we’ve remained separated from God the longer we are enslaved to this power to this force the longer we drink of this poison called sin. the Christian worldview rightly acknowledges that sin is the thing that affects relationships between men and women between blacks and whites between locals and foreigners. that’s what makes the Christian worldview better it does not identify the problem within creation, but it sees that there is a force that’s influencing creation and how we behave.
See again most world views will identify the brokenness but the irony is that they turn around and look for the solution within that same brokenness. so, there’s something wrong with men we look to women who are part of creation to try and solve it. there’s something wrong with white people we look to blacks who are part of creation to try and solve it. or something wrong with the foreigners where we look to the locals who are part of creation to try and solve it. it is a logical problem to try and find brokenness and look within that same brokenness to try and find a solution. amen.
But the Christian worldview on the other hand finds the solution outside of creation. And before we get there let’s just go back to what the issue is with finding the solution within creation. that’s when the mess happens that’s when people start believing that the end justifies the means. so, if there’s a problem if there’s a concern and it’s within creation and we still need to look within creation to find the solution that’s when the mess happens, and people will do anything to try and achieve their goal. we want justice we’ll achieve it at any cost. we want equality we’ll achieve it at any cost. we want peace we’ll achieve it at any cost. even if it means we lie we steal we destroy we loot we possibly kill we will do whatever it is to try and achieve the goal. but if you find the solution outside of creation which is what the Christian worldview presents, a solution that’s not tainted by the brokenness a solution that’s not stained by the poison a solution that’s not enslaved by the power of the force called sin. the Christian worldview presents a solution that steps into creation and steps into time and that solution is Jesus. That when Jesus dies on the cross, he bridges this gap that’s between us and God the source of all that is good right pure and holy and righteous. so, because of the life the death and the resurrection of Jesus the Christian worldview says to us that you need to be equally concerned about the goal as much as you’re concerned about the process. so yes, the Christian will care about justice, but the Christian equally cares about acting justly in the process of achieving justice. the Christian will care about equality, but the Christian worldview will say you need to equally care about acting equal in the process of achieving equality. the Christian worldview will say yes, we need to care about peace but Christian you need to equally care about acting peacefully in the process of achieving justice.
And so, the church is not slow this is just a high standard. the church is not slow. we need to be very considerate of how we behave in the process of achieving the goals that we want because Jesus has died, Jesus rose, Jesus is king and that radically changes every single thing that we do. how we behave, how we think, how we treat people that we disagree with people who would persecute us people who would consider themselves our enemies, you still love them in the process of achieving peace between you and them. you still treat them like they made in the image of God in the process of achieving peace or equality between you and them. That’s why Paul says in verses 3 but sexual immorality or all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you.
Yes, these things should not happen among you, but they shouldn’t even be named among you. the standard is higher. so, we do not resort to sexual immorality or impurity or covetousness which is pride or greed so that we can achieve our goals, no we act justly in trying to achieve justice. we act peacefully in trying to achieve peace we act rightly in trying to correct the wrongs.
we don’t resort to any of these other things. in verses 4 he makes that clear let there be no filthiness no foolish talk or cruel joking which is out of place but instead let there be thanksgiving. I disagree with you but let me not speak foul behind your back. I disagree with you but let me stand with people who are on the same position with me who agree with me and treat you like you’re not made in the image of God. don’t agree with where you stand on this particular point but that’s fine, I still love you because Jesus has died to take the brokenness away from me so let me not act like I’m still broken. the Christian worldview is way better. verses five I think Paul really drives us in where he says for you may be sure of this that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure or his covetous that is an idolater and has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. and I think what he’s saying in light of what we’re talking about here is that any ideology or a worldview or politics that pin themselves against the Christian worldview that is idolatry. why? Because at the centre of that worldview is creation a solution. but in the Christian worldview the solution is the creator himself anything that takes the place of Jesus as a solution is idolatry. so, any world view that pins itself up against the Christian worldview that world view is small it’s limited. it might have some good things in it but ultimately itself involved because its solution is still within creation.
And so, if you’re a Christian sitting here today pursue justice, Christian. pursue equality, pursue peace. get involved in formal politics we need more Christians and, in many spaces, and many spheres. but remember the posture of your conduct. remember that you are blood bought. remember that you belong to a different kingdom. remember that you have a different citizenship. in fact, in verses 1 Paul says to these Christians remember that you need to imitate God who loved his enemies. be beloved children walk in love. remember the posture of your engagement. if you’re a non-Christian sitting here this evening take the warning of verses five and six, yes there might be good things that your world view helps you to achieve but at the end of the day it’s all idolatry and it will mean nothing without Jesus. so that’s our first point for the evening, concerns.
let’s move on to our second point, convictions. how is the Christian worldview better when it comes to convictions? read with me verses 10 there till 14. Verse 10 says and try to discern what is pleasing to the lord take no part in unfruitful works of darkness but instead expose them for it is a shameful even to speak of the things they do in secret but when anything is exposed by the light it becomes visible for anything that becomes visible is light therefore it says awake or sleeper and rise from the dead and Christ will shine on you. So, remember what I said earlier on that that world views are formulated by a number of things education background faith values etc. but from these verses we see what the key component of the Christian worldview is. it’s there in verses 10 when Paul says that you need to learn to discern what is pleasing to the lord. we don’t have to try and figure out what that is because he tells us in verses 11. that’s being truthful, that’s what pleases God. lies displease God. so, it does not matter where the truth is coming from, the Christian worldview says to you a student of truth you’re a disciple of truth fight for truth even if the truth comes from somebody you disagree with. and if the people that you are in the same position with start lying expose those lies. that’s what the Christian worldview will tell us we do not pick sides just for the sake of picking sides, but we are loyal to the truth. at the centre of the Christian worldview is truth himself and that is Jesus and that’s who we are loyal to
So, you might get into an argument as you try and engage all of life and you’re trying to engage people in your in your office space and somebody says to you for example I came to your church and I heard somebody say this and that seemed like a lie and in your heart you know it’s a lie don’t defend it because it’s your church expose it it’s a lie. accept it it’s a lie. you’re a student of truth you’re a disciple of truth. and that’s the that’s the amazing thing about the Christian worldview. sometimes people speak of the Christian faith of the Christian worldview as counter-cultural which could be true, but I’d like to propose that the Christian worldview is other cultural so it’s neither the dominant culture nor the counterculture but it’s the kingdom culture that transcends both. so, it’s not left nor right but it’s kingdom it favours truth. whatever truth is we defend truth wherever truth is we uphold truth and where there’s lies, we expose those lies.
So, as we think about how we engage the culture and how we do life as we think about all of life the Christian worldview encourages those it calls to submit to it that they need to expose lies and hold on to truth. Justin Gibboney who’s the president and founder of The AND campaign, you must go check out their stuff it’s really amazing what they’re doing, but he has a talk he titles “Lies that serve us” and the point of this talk he says that we tend to suppress the little lies that further our narrative. it doesn’t matter what side or what debate you’re in or position that you hold, there’s all these little lies because we’re not perfect. but we tend to suppress those lies so that we can push our narrative further so that we can stand in front of people and say we’re right while you know that there’s a whole lot of other little lies that you’ve covered.
The Christian worldview will say no to that. in fact, the Christian worldview says even if you are a Christian investigate the Christian worldview. And that’s the amazing thing about the Christian worldview it just does not say it will challenge all other worldviews, but it calls everybody to challenge it. come question it. by definition when Jesus says that he is truth he’s asking us to investigate if that’s true or false. if the Christian worldview says it is true, come investigate it and if it’s true it will stand. but it’s not trying to suppress little lies to try and promote what Jesus is doing in the world because there aren’t any lies, Jesus is truth. but as people we’ve broken be sinful and there might be things that we say that’s not quite true and if you called out on those lies, admit it, surrender, repent.in fact the invitation is there in verses 14 when Paul says awake or sleeper, awake from your bed of lies. stop sleeping there. arise from the dead, dead ways of doing life. Let Christ shine on you. why? because he wants you to be a student of truth stand open stand raw there’s nothing to hide there’s nothing to be afraid of Jesus has done it all. so, the key conviction of the Christian world views is truth and as Christians we need to hold on to that. see the church again is not slow the standard is high. it’s a very high standard.
So, we’ve seen concerns we’ve seen convictions. let’s go to our last point for the evening, conclusions. so, if we know what the Christian worldview is concerned about what its conviction is how do we guard and live this? read me verses 15 to verse 18. look carefully then how you walk not as unwise but as wise making the best use of the time because the days are evil. therefore, do not be foolish and understand what the will of the lord is. and do not get drunk with wine for that is debauchery but be filled with the holy spirit. I want to read a quote from the Mail and Guardian just to just give you a picture of what the country thinks of the church what they think of the Christian worldview. Listen to what this article says. “I believe the church is still imminently placed to influence public opinion on matters affecting the nation. one would like to believe that sooner or later the church will regain its prophetic zeal and provide moral leadership that we so desperately need today. South Africa needs to hear what the church is thinking and saying in the present political context. the church cannot extricate itself from politics because it cannot refrain from the task of reflecting on the implications of its faith within the political context. the church should dirty her hands and join the crusade to come up with possible solutions to the problems besetting the country” End of quote. It’s not a Christian publication and even they see the value of the church. they see the role that the church plays, they see the role that the Christian worldview has in this world.
And so how do we respond to that as Christians? verses 16 Paul says make best use of the time because the days are evil. so don’t waste time Christians. let’s get our hands dirty. let’s get our voices heard. let us seek for justice for equality for peace but let us do that living as Christians. let us not compromise on our Christian faith, let us not compromise on our values, let us not a compromise on what truth is but let us go out be engaged in the culture in everything that we do. Because just from that quote alone the culture needs us. The culture needs the church the church is not obsolete in south Africa. How else do we do that? verses 18 listen to what Paul says there, and do not get drunk with wine for that is debauchery but be filled with the holy spirit. in simple terms don’t waste your energy and don’t get distracted by the same culture that you’re trying to change. Yeah, I want to go to News Cafe to evangelize, 2 a.m. you’re as drunk as everyone at News Cafe. Hey, you know we need to start a ministry for our single guys here at the church so that we can tell them how to remain pure. We find you with someone in your apartment. Don’t get distracted by the same culture that you’re trying to change. don’t waste your energy.
if Jesus Christ has died and rose and is seated at the right hand of God and has called you to a kingdom perspective that transcends all cultures, don’t waste your time. but go in, have confidence. Remember what Abraham Caper said when he said that “there’s no square inch in the universe where Jesus does not look at and scream mine.” If that is true have confidence to go anywhere. go tell them about what Jesus has done and what he’s doing in this world and how this world can radically change the because of Jesus’s work.
So is the church obsolete? do we need to replace the church with formal politics? the answer is no. but instead we need the church to help us and equip us so that we can engage politics we can engage culture we can engage education we can engage the arts. the pandemic has proven that the church has a great opportunity to speak about where true hope and true life is found. Everyone else did not know what to do when the pandemic hit, I’m sure Christians were scared but after we composed ourselves, we remembered who our king is. we remembered who Jesus is we remembered what he’s done for us. we remembered all the persecution that the church has gone through past the past 2000 years and Jesus has kept his church and Jesus will keep us.
So let us have confidence if you’re a Christian sitting here this evening let’s go out and engage the culture have confidence in what Jesus has given you through the gospel and how the bible is shaping your worldview. if you’re not a Christian sitting here yes you might be holding on to whatever, will be you holding on to, but I would say that’s not your biggest problem, but your biggest problem is that you’re separated from God and that you need to give your life to him today. but the current way you’re living that life the way you’re viewing things there might be good things about it but ultimately, it’s not going to mean anything give your life to Jesus today.