Civil Unrest and the Christian

Wednesday at 3:18 p.m. I got a text from my younger brother “Did you see what’s happening in DC?” is all he wrote. We all know what was happening by now. A group of people stormed the Capitol, and we have all seen the videos. I have seen some responses from conservative Trump supporters who view this act as victory, and the violence justified. Ironically, these are often the same people who condemned the riots of the summer instigated by Antifa and/or Black Lives Matter. On the other end of the spectrum there has been outrage and condemnation for the occupation of the Capital. With just as much irony, many of these are the same people who ignored the riots of the summer and made accommodation because the anger of the protestors was somehow understandable.

The gamut of emotions in the world is also reflected among Christians. Some are outraged today, believing the election to be stolen and our republic to be in tatters. If that reflects your view, the denial of the courts to hear Trump’s cases of voter fraud are outrageous to you. Others, I think the majority, is horrified at the pictures of people occupying the very symbol of order and law, although there is a general uneasiness about how America’s politics is being conducted. Regardless of where you land, there seems to be a nervous churning in our nation. It is not my intention to solve those problems (as if I could). If possible, I would even like to conceal my own opinions on all that has transpired. This post is not meant to draw political conclusions, but rather to help the body of Christ to focus on a godly response to our current cultural climate.

Do not let current cultural outrage rob you of your peace in Christ. The Christian can be easily distracted from his main purpose: to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. The Christian is a subject of his heavenly king the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). It is true that Christ at times lead to division. But the anger and outrage in those moments should belong to the world, not the Christian. In so many places the Christian is called to live at peace with his neighbor (Mark 9:50; John 14:27; 16:33; Acts 10:36; Rom. 1:7; 5:1; 14:17, 19; 15:13; 1 Cor. 14:33; 2 Cor. 13:11; Gal. 5:22; Col. 1:20; 1 Thes. 5:13; 2 Tim. 2:22; Heb. 12:14; James 3:18). 

There may be exceptional circumstances where violence is necessary, such as self-defense or just wars. But the Christian should never delight in it, nor should he choose it if he can avoid it. The Swiss Reformer Pierre Viret has written: “There is nothing which Christians ought to hold in greater horror than the taking up of arms…and that there is nothing in which Christians ought to be more hesitant to engage, nor which agrees less with their profession of faith.” If you are tempted to side with those who occupied the capital, please reflect on the texts above and ask yourself if your heart reflects the call of Scripture.

Do not allow the lies of the world to elevate people of bad character. It is intriguing to me that the people who are outraged over the events of January 6, 2021 had a much different reaction to the events of October 4, 2018. The result of that day was the same, but the cause was different. The former was perpetrated by conservatives. The latter by the Women’s March outraged over the nomination of now supreme court justice Brett Kavanaugh. 

To rush to condemn an action out of political expediency is not praiseworthy. It is a violation of the 9thcommandment. It is the height of naivité to claim innocence in either of our political parties. God is a God of truth, and desires His people to live according to the truth (Ps. 51:6; 86:11; 119:160; Is. 45:19; Jer. 5:3; Zech. 8:16; John 8:32; 14:6; 15:26; 17:17; 1 Cor. 13:6; Eph, 4:15). And when someone makes a truthful statement for a selfish purpose, as a whole he breaks the 9th commandment. 

Neither political party in the USA can claim moral high ground at this point in our nation’s history. And for Democrats to feign outrage over the actions of a few Republican that lasted less than 3 hours seems like a violation of the 9th commandment in light of the summer-long riots of 2020 and their relative silence on those occasions. It is good to condemn violence and destruction, even when done by your political allies. But please do not allow the lies of the world to elevate men of poor character, just because they say true things when it serves them to gain an advantage over their political opponents.

Do not forget about the absolute sovereignty of God. To look at current events apart from God’s on-going governing of all his creation will cause despair. In all of our circumstances, God is exercising control over His creation. Hebrews 12:1-11 explains that control in the context of discipline. The circumstances faced in life can be painful and hard to bear. But the Christian should recognize them as God’s discipline. When God’s chastenings come, the Christian must not resist or fight as the world does. The Christian is called to rejoice and accept God’s work, and respond with peace. Your peace will disappear if you forget that God is good, that He is governing the world, and that political turmoil in the United States is not catching Him by surprise.

This post is not meant to solve all the controversy of our nation’s election debacle. In a sense it seems obvious that God’s judgment has already fallen on this land and we’re simply reaping what we have sown. But more than at any time in an already tumultuous twelve months the Christian must focus on God’s word and get his eyes off his emotions. Peace and stability are only found in by looking to Him. The Christian serves the Prince of Peace and as such his response to the circumstances of the world should reflect that.

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