In Mark 8:15, Jesus warned His disciples, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod!” The leaven of the Pharisees is directly described as religious hypocrisy, but what is the leaven of Herod? In the Gospels we read of a sect called the Herodians who joined forces with the Pharisees to destroy Jesus (Mark 3:6). They seem to have been a political party, named for its support of Herod’s dynasty which reined over Judea as Roman vassals. In speaking of leaven, no doubt Jesus referred to that which contaminates, as leaven in the Scripture is a typical picture of sin and pride. I believe this gives us valuable insight into the mind of Christ and His admonition against the leaven of Herod, which is to say, the pollution of politics.
In examining the life and ministry of Christ, it is important to note how apolitical he was. He never endorsed a political party; although He did condemn the Herodians. He never encouraged any of His followers to become political activists; rather He told a parable which described how faith is often choked by the cares of this world. Jesus didn’t even bother to take a political side, as seen when both the Pharisees (a conservative religious group) and Herodians (a liberal political party) came and sought to argue with Him about a contentious political issue. He simply chided them saying, “Render to Caesar what is rightfully his; and give to God what belongs to Him.” I think the Church needs to be reminded of its Founder and His deliberate refusal to taint the bread of His message with the leaven of politics.
I certainly have no problem with an individual Christian involving himself in our political system, though I would encourage every believer who does so to have discretion; because when emotions run high, one tends to emphasize his political views at the cost of his spiritual ideals. However, what concerns me most is the place the Church has taken in politics these days. The Church should strive to maintain a place in society as a lighthouse for Christ and His Gospel; but when she engages in politics, this seems to go right out the proverbial window. I think we were given a great example of this over the past year, here in California, where gay marriage was hotly debated when Proposition 8 was placed on our ballot.
As Christians we are called to love as we have been loved by God: unconditionally and freely. We are not to hold back from extending grace to those around us. In Apostolic times we see how radically the Church touched various communities as pagans of all sorts, and homosexuals in particular, were embraced by Christians, and became believers themselves. This was a reality in the Corinthian church of Paul’s day, as he wrote to them of this very fact, noting that some in the fellowship had once been homosexuals, but had now been washed, sanctified, and justified in the Name of Jesus. (1 Cor 6:9-11) When I think of this I wonder, would an openly gay man or lesbian woman be embraced by most conservative churches in America today? How would you feel if an obvious homosexual walked through the doors of your church? What would you do? Would you hug them or even shake their hand, let alone say “Hi”? What would Jesus do?
In the Gospel record, we read of Jesus reaching out and embracing those in need, even lepers! The lepers of our day seem to be the homosexual community; but instead of reaching out, so often the Church has put up barriers to keep them away. This was made abundantly clear during the Proposition 8 campaign. As the proponents of Prop 8 ramped up their tactics, I remember hearing some in the gay community mention how hateful “these Christians” are. How can we have allowed ourselves to come to this? How could we have presented the testimony of Christ in such a distorted way, that we would be known by our hate, rather than by His love? The Devil has secured a great victory against the mission of the Church, and he has accomplished this defeat the same way he always does-- through compromise.
The Apostle Paul once said, “A little leaven, leavens the whole lump”. I am sure that there are churches where the Gospel of God’s love and grace is faithfully portrayed, but a little leaven spreads through the whole lump of dough, and a little political leaven pollutes the entire Christian Church. Nearly 2000 years ago the Devil infiltrated the church in Pergamos, and many see his efforts there as the work of compromise, as the church mixed the doctrine of Christ with other ideologies. The Devil is so good at getting Christians to mix their faith with the leaven of the world, whether it be hypocrisy, politics, or anything else.
Our message is to be a singular one, we are to have the focus of the Apostle Paul who said, “I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” Like Jesus, may His Church be silent on politics, and boisterous about the Gospel! Let us as individuals, and in our own names, engage in politics as good patriot citizens of this great American country; but may we also as citizens of Heaven and members of the Church, keep the name of Jesus from being dragged through the mud. It’s one thing for the world to mock our Savior, but when we make Him a mockery, the shame is on us-- Beware of political leaven!
In : Politics
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