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Church is Better than Politics

Columnist Ben Cathey, pastor at The Orchard Church in Loganville, compares politics and church.

Jesus’ Church is better than politics. Okay, so that’s not saying that much these days when congress only garners a 10 percent approval rating. I don’t mean that the church is more liked or that it’s more popular than politics. Church is just better. It’s more effective. Notice that I didn’t say religion is better than politics. Jesus did not establish a religion. He left us with His Church!

Many people look to politics to save us. When they speak of the substance of life, they only speak in terms of rights, laws, and freedoms. Governments do have a very, very important place in society, but a government is left impotent when the people it seeks to govern approach it with rebellious hearts. Rights and laws seek to make us free in a dysfunctional society that has lost its ability to seek the truth, act with humility, and work with integrity. Ultimately people govern themselves, and the government they live under is a reflection of their mores, whims, ethics, and fortitude. Maybe our nation is not failing because of Congress. Maybe Congress is failing because of us.

Back in Jesus’ day most of the people expected Jesus to be a political messiah. They expected Him to gain influence in the political system and lead a revolt against Rome that would return Judaism to the powerful nationhood it experienced under Kings David and Solomon. To them, the only “real” messiah was a political messiah.

Jesus never got into politics. In fact, he steered clear saying, “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar.”  Jesus did get into church, though. He once told a disciple, “Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.”

The Roman Empire has long vanished since Jesus’ day. Nations have risen and fallen. But the Church that Jesus established is thriving around the world. It is full of people who are giving their lives for a higher calling than rights, laws, and even freedoms. The Church that Jesus established is full of people who are living sacrificially for the benefit of other people, for the benefit of the greater good, and to share with people the Good News of Jesus which frees them from a sinful heart.

Some would say that the Church is full of hypocrites, and that it’s not worth the time, the money, or the effort. Some insiders are hyper-critical of it, evaluating each church like a fine piece of art, but never picking up a paint brush. But the Church that Jesus established remains beautiful! There is nothing else like it on earth. Countless hearts have been changed. Marriages have been saved, criminals have been reformed, addicts have found new life, orphans have been adopted, poor people have been fed, sick people have been cared for, needy people have been helped, lonely people have been loved, injustice has been challenged, and sinners have been freed.

In parts of the world where persecution is the worst, the Church seems to be at its best. It loves radically, serves extravagantly, gives sacrificially, and worships tenderly. God uses the Church that Jesus established to minister to our bruised hearts, draw us closer to His presence, and equip us to help others.

Nope, the Church that Jesus established is not perfect. It is very, very human. It has been hijacked by ignoble people and ignoble causes at times (much less often than government or any other institution, for that matter), but it remains a shining beacon of hope in every place where it exists. The Church that Jesus established is the hope of the world and for over 2,000 years, the gates of hell have not prevailed against it. Where Jesus’ Church has shined the brightest, the society has been the healthiest; where the Church’s light has been dimmed or misused, the society has been left wanting. Discover a great church. Love your church. Jesus’ Church is the hope of the world!

Sharon Swanepoel October 16, 2011 at 11:22 AM
Ben, please feel free to upload one. I could use the Orchard Church again but that one was actually used in a piece about politics and the church. If you have one that is more fitting, just upload it and I'll feature it.
Jeffrey Allen October 18, 2011 at 11:30 PM
Interesting that a positive article generates so much less feedback than a controversial one. I am curious if that is because there is common ground between you and your "typical" detractors, or if it this article doesn't suit a certain worldview about what church is and what church does.
Ben Cathey October 19, 2011 at 02:53 AM
Thanks for the encouragement Jeff. I get to write the articles. I'll let others argue over them.
Albert Osborn October 20, 2011 at 04:15 PM
Pastor Cathey, Your article headline creates a dichotomy that shouldn't exist. I don't think you would disagree that both church and politics are legitimate parts of life, and that as Christians, we are called to do our best to be Christlike and to be good citizens. Are you aware that 75% of Evangelical Christians don't vote? 50% are not even registered to vote and 50% of those registered have no voting history. I believe that most Christians are conscientious people. I believe the reason they don't vote is the dichotomy that is created in their minds by headlines and sermons like yours. They are are led to believe they must choose between being Christians and participating in the self-governing of our nation, instead of doing both!
Ben Cathey October 20, 2011 at 05:33 PM
Thanks Albert! Helpful.

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