We are in the midst of the presidential primaries. There is a whole lot of boasting going on. How can one be a politician without boasting of his own qualifications? By contrast, how can we be Christians without boasting of the qualifications of our Savior, Jesus Christ? Those who are chosen by God to be saved through faith in Christ know themselves to be sinners. They make their boast only in the redeeming merits of Jesus Christ.
The mature Christian knows that he has already been elected unto eternal salvation by the God of grace. Therefore he does not desire to boast of himself in order to be elected by others to some earthly position. If he runs for political office, he runs to serve, not to be served; and he will run on his message, not his merits.
Neither does the true Christian proclaim his message the way the politician does. The politician, who seeks his election by the people, will often massage his message to suit the whims of the people. The Christian, on the other hand, will not tamper with the Word of Christ in order to tickle the ears of his hearers. God’s Word “is truth” (Jn. 17:17). It cannot be improved. It must be proclaimed as it is written, because it comes from the holy and unchanging God Himself. Unlike the politician, the humble Christian would not dare to juggle the truth until it turns up as something else–a lie or half-truth that is more agreeable to his hearers.
Christians who confess the truths of God’s Word are an endangered species. Not only are they rarely found, but they are increasingly threatened by the perception in our society that the greatest “hate” crime is to proclaim Christ as the Way, the Truth, and the Life for all mankind.
The truth is not a toy. The real Christian does not want to trivialize the truths of God’s Word by making them equal with human opinions. And yet, we are continually reminded that Jews, Hindus, Moslems and others are “offended” by the claim that the Christian faith is the only way to God. The pressure is on us to define Christian faith and “spirituality” so loosely that every human opinion and belief system may find a place within the Church or acceptance with God, regardless of the testimony of the Holy Scriptures.
So it is that Nancy Eiesland, a sociology professor and co-editor of the book, Contemporary American Religion (AltaMira Press, 1997), insists that Christians now have to ask themselves what it means “to be a Christian in a context where Christians are regularly in conversation with people who proclaim very different truths” (quoted in the Atlanta-Constitution–Atlanta, Georgia, Saturday, Jan. 1, 2000). Our answer: What it “means to be a Christian” will always be determined solely by the truth proclaimed in the Gospel of Christ, not by the proclamations of human religions. To be a true Christian will always mean to confess the Truth revealed in Christ’s Word, opposing and rejecting every so-called “different truth.”
Because the Truth is unchanging, being a true Christian in our day requires nothing more nor less than it did in the days of the New Testament Church 2,000 years ago. For the Christ who commanded those first disciples to be the “salt of the earth” and “the light of the world” has not yet told us to be the sugar of the earth of the shade or the world. We are still to “rejoice and be exceedingly glad” as we follow the example of the persecuted prophets before us (cf. Mt. 5:11-16).
To this extent we agree with those who argue that religion and politics should not be mixed: Let no true Christian permit others to confuse him with the average politician. Too many precious souls are at stake, perhaps even our own! “For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Rom. 10:10). God, help us to confess the truth of salvation as we believe! For the Scripture also says: “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame” (Rom. 10:11).
(From a January 23, 2000 church bulletin, Holy Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, West Columbia, S.C. Vance Fossum is pastor.) — Vance Fossum