Viewing the Special Session Through New Eyes

Aug 25, 2023 by David Fowler

Viewing the Special Session Through New Eyes
 Viewing the Special Session Through New Eyes
This week we’ve observed voices being marshalled and directed to the members of the legislature for and against what is going on with the special session. I’ve watched with the perspective of one whose political orbit over the last ten years, and corresponding influence among state legislators, has gotten smaller. That diminution has been good in a very important way. Maybe my communication of that good today will have a greater long-term impact than anything I did previously. Here is what I have learned.
How I Came to Understand Politics
The first thing I have learned is that for over two decades, I operated in the policy-political sphere the same way the atheist would and does.
Ironically, I learned how to work in that sphere from two preachers: Jerry Falwell, who founded the Moral Majority in 1979, and Pat Robertson, who founded the Christian Coalition in the late 1980s. Those preachers saw how liberals worked in this sphere to gather power and expand it as they could. And they saw that liberals were making progress on issues like abortion and homosexuality. 
Thus, it stood to reason that if that was how the policy-political sphere works, then Christians could play that game, too. We (Christians) would win the policy battles because we would be better at it than the godless (and the non-godless were the majority!); and besides, God would be on our side because we wanted our laws to reflect Christian values.
The thing I have come to understand is that this power-game approach to forming society isn’t the way the world works, despite appearances.
What’s Wrong with What I Learned
Psalm 2 tells Christians that God in heaven laughs at those rulers who think they can control things and shape their part of the world and its direction by them. But it is about more than what the godless do; it is thinking that political power can create or recreate the world that constitutes a person as godless.
Thus, I submit that when Christians grasp for political power so they can bring about a cultural climate of Christian virtue, they are doing the same thing and thinking the same way as the godless. In other words, I believe Psalm 2 strongly suggests that power plays don’t work long-term for anyone.
So, when God’s people engage in the power approach to implementing or enacting policies, even if those policies are consistent with Christian virtues-- or at least hold back the chaos a little longer-- I can’t help but wonder if God is thinking what the Prophet Elijah said: “How long with you falter between two opinions?” (1 Kings 18:21) Either Christ rules and reigns over all things as King, over an all-encompassing Kingdom granting mercy and even grace as He chooses to further that Kingdom (Romans 9:18), or it’s up to us to make His kingdom come.

I suspect some will say that God does His part, but we must do our part. But based on my own experience and what I see around me, “our part” seems to be corralling by social media and other means our Christian forces, getting them stoked up, and “unleashing” their citizenship on the heads of the ungodly.
What now bothers me about this is that it seems to bypass what Jesus said the means were for advancing His kingdom, namely, disciple people who disciple the nations (Matthew 28:19).
In other words, having “Christian” laws, which I will define as laws consistent with Biblical ethics or virtues, does not make a nation Christian or further the Kingdom of God. Rather, it is because a nation’s people have been discipled and are maturing as Christians—that the Kingdom of God is growing in and among the people-- that a nation has Christian laws. As I read the Bible, the law is always given after God had blessed persons by claiming them as His own.
The One Fundamental Law by Which the World Operates
The second thing I have learned as my “power” among legislators has lessened is that there is one fundamental law by which the world operates. I only superficially understood it, and, therefore, only superficially lived by it. It is “the law of faith” (Romans 3:27). I had never thought of faith as an unescapable law in a post-Fall world.
The “law of faith” is not only how persons come to God (Ephesians 2:8), but it is the law by which the Christian is to live the totality of his or her life, including politics: “the just shall live by faith” (Habakkuk 2:3, Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11, Hebrews 10:38).
In fact, when Paul explains why the Jews were being cut off and the promises given to Abraham were being extended to the theretofore detestable, unclean Gentiles, he said: “Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law.”
How the Great Exchange—Power for Faith—Comes About.
The Jews were “zealous for God, but their zeal [was] not based on knowledge” (Romans 10:2). The same was true of me in personal life and, consequently, it had to show up in the way I pursued policy and politics.
And their problem was the same as mine: They “did not know the righteousness of God”—that it is so high and so unattainable that the only way they could claim any righteousness is to cling by faith to the promise that Christ provides that righteousness.
Not understanding the problem and how the world now works, they, like I, “sought to establish their own righteousness” (Romans 10:3). They, like I and others in my field of endeavor, “pursued the law as the way of righteousness (Romans 9:31).
Doing Politics and Policy the Right Way
Again, Jesus told His first disciples what they needed to do to change the world: make disciples and disciple the nations (Matthew 28:19).
I wish that someone in the many churches of which I have been a part during my political endeavors had known how to disciple me in this sphere. Not just on what piety looks like, but on the law by which the whole world now works. And not just that, but on how the law of faith applies to policy and to the politics through which those policies are pursued.
But I believe God wanted me to learn these things the hard way so the lesson would be more real. And by seeing the lack, He better impressed upon me the need to pass that lesson along to those open to learning, which I hope I’ve done today, at least in part.
Perhaps when Christians like me are willing to trust God with the outcome of the crisis-of-the -day that drives our political agenda (and helps generate donations for working that agenda) and take time to learn more about the righteousness of God and pursuit of it by faith, even in the sphere of politics (which does not tend to generate donations), teaching what we have learned to the next generation, then maybe things will begin to change. I believe they will.
The Last Two Things I Learned
But even if they don’t change, or at least in the near term, I know two more things now. Pursuing power, even if for God’s sake, is the proverbial fool’s errand because all power already belongs to Him (Psalm 62:11, Romans 13:1). And all righteousness apart from that which Christ supplies is but a filthy rag (Isaiah 64:6).

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