Longview church of Christ
1401 Eden Dr. 
Longview, TX 75605-4104

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What Do We Stand For?

As I was driving to the office a few weeks ago, listening to talk radio, the speaker made this statement. “The problem we’re facing today isn’t that the church is getting political, but that government is getting theological.” I had to stop and think about that for a bit, but concluded he was exactly right. What did he mean by this analysis of what is happening in our world?

In reality, if we examine Scripture, we have seen this pattern many times in history, where matters of faith began to be scrutinized by whatever authority was in place. When government decides what is to be practiced by people of faith, there is a conflict of interest. For example, in ancient Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar built an image of gold ninety feet tall, and demanded people fall down and worship it. To refuse meant being thrown into a furnace of blazing fire (Dan. 3:1-6). Daniel’s three friends refused to compromise their faith in God by doing so, and were cast into the furnace. As king of Babylon, he decided what faith should be for his subjects.

The Sanhedrin council delivered Jesus up to Pilate, the Roman governor of their province, to have Jesus executed by crucifixion. They were instrumental putting it in the mind of the people to call of for His death (Matt. 27:20), calling out that “His blood be on us and on our children” (Matt. 27:25). Later, when the apostles were preaching the message of Christ, the Sanhedrin had them arrested, and told them, “We strictly commanded you not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this man’s blood on us” (Acts 5:28). The apostles, however, reminded them this was a matter of faith, not politics. “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). 

Near the end of the first century, Domitian, emperor of Rome, determined to be worshiped by Rome’s citizens, calling Caesar Lord. Doing this would allow one to proceed on with a normal life, being freed from the fear of persecution, even death. Christians refused to do this, as their confession was Jesus is Lord (1 Cor. 12:2-3). To coerce them, they suffered some of the most horrendous atrocities, from being burned alive, mauled by wild animals in the Coliseum, and crucified. God, however, and eternal life, meant more to them than the comforts of today. John records, “And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their witness, and they did not love their life even to death” (Rev. 12:11).

While government is established for the good of the people, receiving its authority from God (Rom. 13:1), sometimes it decides to make theology its business. So, what happens when authority issues decrees on matters of theology, of faith? What happens when its decrees are contrary to the teaching of Scripture? Is teaching the truth being political, or has secular power become theological? Obviously, we must be prepared to stand up for our faith, no matter what secular authority dictates. This calls for the patient endurance of the saints (Rev. 14:12). 

The devil is never content to allow the gospel to touch people’s lives and hearts. He distorts it, and seeks to silence it, by whatever means he has, including deceiving those in power to persecute others. May we not be deceived into thinking we are wrong to stand firm in our faith. May we keep the commandments of God and our faith in Jesus because heaven is too important to forfeit for temporal decisions that only lead to destruction. It does not matter what term some apply to the truth of the gospel; we must remember what we are to be salt and light to a world lost in sin. As Paul reminds us, “I have written so that you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15).

μαράνα θᾶ (1 Cor. 16:22)