Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Christus ist mein Führer

I usually try to keep my political views separate from my ministry.  It's not because I think my faith and my politics should remain separate.  It's because I know I have some extremist views politically and I don't want them to take anything away from the message of the Gospel or the focus on Jesus Christ.  But I came across an interesting piece of history when reading the book Grace Notes by Philip Yancey yesterday that I wanted to discuss with my readers.  In this excerpt, Yancey is talking about what happens when the Christian Church comes up against a totalitarian state.  He uses Nazi Germany in the early 20th century as an example.

Ominously, evangelical Christians were attracted to Hitler's promise to restore morality to government and society.  According to Karl Barth, the church "almost unanimously welcomed the Hitler regime, with real confidence, indeed with the highest hopes."  German Protestants had no strong tradition of opposing the state.  Christians adopted the motto "The Swastika on our breasts, the Cross in our hearts."  Their pastors dressed in Nazi uniforms and sang Nazi hymns.  Too late did they learn that once again the church had been seduced by the power of the state.
How quickly did the promise to restore morality to government and society turn into the chilling chants of "ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Furher" (one people, one nation, one leader), "Deutschland uber alles" (Germany above all) and  "Wir hassen die Juden und Ausländer" (we hate Jews and foreigners)!

I take the title of this blog post "Christus ist mein Furher" (Christ is my leader) from a series of sermons given by a leader of the resistance against Hitler, Martin Niemoller, who, according to Yancey, initially thanked God for the rise of the Nazis because they were seen as the only alternative to Communism.

So, besides the gut wrenching image of pastors dressing in Nazi uniforms and Christians supporting the Nazis gospel of hate, why bring this up?

I am concerned that in the US today, the Christian community is in danger of going down this same path.

Based on this excerpt, there were a handful of mistakes German Christians made that lead them astray and I see many making the same mistakes today.  Here are a few that I have observed.

1.  Looking to the government to restore morality.

The government is not responsible for protecting morality.  They are responsible for running a country and keeping order.  It may surprise many that what one group considers moral may not be the same that another group considers moral.  How is a government to choose which group's idea of morality is the right one?  Do we really want to let the government decide whether law based on the Ten Commandments is moral or if Sharia Law is moral?  Why are we abdicating our responsibility of teaching morals to our children (Deuteronomy 6:7) to a government that wasn't meant to set the moral standard to start with?  Letting the government set the moral standard is a consequence of our laziness and we deserve all the backlash that comes with it.

2.  Assuming the only alternative to evil is another evil.

The German Christians knew that Communism was bad.  So did they turn Almighty God and trust in His faithful provision for them?  No!  They put their trust in another earthly entity.  Everything of the earth is inherently evil.  That includes governments, political parties, corporations, social organizations....anything that doesn't have Jesus Christ first and foremost.

3.  Confusing party politics with following Jesus.

This is the one that makes me the most nervous.  Living in Southern Ohio, I'm surrounded by people who assume that the Republican party is the Christian party because of their platform of family values and being anti-abortion and all good Christians should vote Republican.  I know in other parts of the country the perspective is flipped.  People believe that the Democrats are the Christian party because of the social justice aspects of the Democrats platform and they feel that Democrats are the only one's taking care of the poor like Jesus said to.  Just like the German Christians who proclaimed that there was a swastika on their chest and a cross in their heart, there are people walking around with an elephant or a donkey on their chest and, supposedly, a cross in their heart.  Why would any God fearing, Spirit filled Christian say something so dumb?  Do you really put your political party on the same par as your Almighty Savior???  Or even worse, wear your party out in the open for everyone to see, but keep Jesus hidden away so no one else sees Him?  If you are a Christian, you belong to the Jesus party...period.  If the Republicans agree with Jesus, great.  If the Democrats agree with Jesus, great.  Your allegiance is with Jesus, your party platform is the Gospel and instead of voting party lines, you vote whatever the Holy Spirit leads you to vote.  Any different and you are playing directly into the hands of the evil one.

4.  Putting national identity before Christian identity.

Don't chain the Cross to something evil!  Your identity as an American only labels what earthly, and thus evil, government you belong to.  Yes, the US is, in human eyes, less evil than other countries, but in God's eyes, evil is evil is evil is evil.  If Jesus Christ is not first, then it is evil.  If it is of the earth, then it is evil.  Last time I checked, the United States never anywhere puts Jesus Christ first and at no point do I ever remember Jesus coming down and creating our nation.  And if you chain evil, regardless of what it is, to the Cross, you are allowing the Cross to be a foothold for Satan to gain control.  Satan craves to be equal to Jesus in our minds.  Even moreso, he knows that once we see him as equal, he is one step away from being greater than God, which is his ultimate goal.  We should not put God and country together as our priorities.  It is God and that is it!

Don't let the evil one woo us away from Jesus by trying to tie all these earthly things to Him.  Eventually, we can get so blinded by these "other" things that we miss out on who is number one.  Keep your eyes on Jesus.  Keep your faith in Jesus.  Keep your trust in Jesus.  He is the only healer of our sick world.

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