Contrary to the claims of many politicians, and not a few church leaders, Jesus is the only light on the hill that illuminates the world.
Political leaders invoke “god” to validate their power, and the most popular religions are employed to do so. Just as officeholders today pay lip service to “Judeo-Christian values,” so Caesar appealed to the traditional Roman gods for divine approval. Patriotism and religious faith become synonymous, and lack of nationalistic fervor is now heresy.
And so today, many Church leaders participate in this idolatrous religion, especially when partisan feelings run high. The inevitable result is the identification of God, Jesus, and Christianity with the nation-state, culture, and ideology. And to maintain this fiction, presidents, kings, members of parliament and dictators claim their country is the “shining light set on a hill” to illuminate the rest of the world.
And this ritual becomes especially prominent and repeated during times of national crisis. “God is on our side!” And presumably, he is not on their side.
Well, politicians are not the most moral bunch, so one can almost appreciate their cunning attempts to hijack Christianity and other religions in the pursuit of personal power and rather worldly goals. But it is an entirely different matter when “Christian” preachers join this blasphemous chorus line, proclaiming that their nation is the “light of the world” and the true representative of God’s kingdom.
The heart of the issue is not whether any country, its culture or government is good, bad, or indifferent, or whether God champions democracy, autocracy, or socialism over other forms of government. Rather, such statements contradict the claims of Jesus who declared that he is “the light of the world,” the one true representative of the God of the Bible. On the lips of supposed men of God and disciples of Christ, this is pure blasphemy and idol worship.
The light found in Jesus and reflected in his Church is the light that beckons and hopes to illuminate all men. He gave his life for the entire world, and not for just one nation, ethnic group, culture, or political system. The Bible labels him the “light of the world,” not western civilization, democracy, Karl Marx, or free-market capitalism. That some Christians embrace such sentiments only demonstrates how far from the biblical ideal they have strayed in the pursuit of power over others.
There is no true light, liberty, peace, or life apart from Jesus. Scripture declares that the church, the body of Spirit-filled believers that transcends all national, cultural, and ethnic boundaries, is the true people of God, His “holy nation,” and the priestly kingdom summoned by Him to mediate His light in a very dark world. Super patriotism and national idolatry adopted by Christians can only hinder this mission.
Jesus did not establish his church to propagate any of the political ideologies of this age, but to proclaim the good news of his kingdom and sovereignty throughout the earth.
Biblically speaking, Christians are pilgrims in this world, and their true citizenship is in the kingdom of God. To be a loyal citizen of His kingdom means giving TOTAL ALLEGIANCE to its sovereign and Lord, and that leaves no room for dual citizenship or split loyalties. And according to the Christian scriptures, sooner or later all the existing regimes of this age will cease to exist.
None of the present governments of the world has ever officially acknowledged and submitted to the absolute lordship of Jesus. Therefore, whatever else they are, they are other than Christian. Moreover, all of them are part of the existing world order that was judged already on Golgotha. Consequently, the forms and institutions of this age are now in the process of “passing away.” Pastors and preachers who champion political causes and parties are “working for the meat that perishes.”
The immersion of many churches into partisan politics has diverted many of them from their paramount task, which is to proclaim the gospel to all nations. They forget just who and what they are, the people of God. And in doing so, their “lamp” fades as they cease reflecting the light of Christ and instead declare Caesar “lord” rather than Jesus.
This is not a call to passivity or to disengage from the world, but an exhortation for the church to reengage humanity with the biblical means; namely, to become shining witnesses of Christ. His kingdom cannot be advanced by the ballot box, military might and conquest, or through economic and political power. Only men and women living cruciform lives submitted completely to the lordship of Jesus can reflect his bright light in this very dark world.