Tag Archives: Christianity

Bishop and Christian*, November, 2012

Every four years, we are inundated with political signs, political ads, political flyers, and political debates. Millions of dollars spent to convince you that this or that candidate will do exactly what you want him or her to do. But it never quite works out that way, does it? There is a reason why the Scriptures say, “Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish” (Psalm 146:3-4, ESV). It is everlastingly good, then, that we do not trust “a son of man,” but the Son of Man, who came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for you, for me, for the sins of the whole world.

As I write this, it is less than one week until our national elections, and although I already wrote a newsletter regarding Christians and politics, it seems good to remind ourselves again and again that no matter what happens next Tuesday (or what happened November 6, if you are reading this post-election), Christ is Lord. We do not yet see this, as our cultural and worldwide circumstances so clearly attest, but we have His promise by faith. Rulers come and go; bad and good times come and go; economies rise and fall; even nations begin and end. That concerns Christians who live as citizens in those nations, and the concerns of people around us remain our concerns. We are to love our neighbors as ourselves, and that includes using the means of presidents, senators, representatives, and other government officials to best serve them. You should vote for the people that will accomplish what you, as a child of God, believe your neighbors most need. You should vote for the people who will embody God’s law built into creation, as much as that is possible in a sin-filled world. You should vote for the people who will protect the most helpless and vulnerable. All the while, you should remember that all politics this side of the New Jerusalem remains compromise because of the nature of our pluralistic and diverse country. Christians can and must be idealists as far as the Reign of God in Christ goes—that is, Christians know that the new creation means resurrection and restoration for bodies and nations and all created things. But when it comes to politics in a sinful world, Christian citizens must be realists, understanding that to gain a little in the cause of freedom and justice is not nothing, though we hope and pray for much more. Unfortunately, in order to be elected, all politicians must play to the center, and not to those who would be considered “extremists” on either side. All the more, do not put your trust in princes or politicians. Put your trust in Christ; in Yahweh who reigns forever, “your God, O Zion, to all generations” (Psalm 146:10, ESV).

After Tuesday’s election, the Church will go on doing what it has done for two thousand years: reveling in the radical grace of God in His Son Jesus Christ, which makes saints out of sinners, causes them to give thanks for all His blessings, prays in the Advent faith, “Come, Lord Jesus,” and celebrates His Birth, Life, Death, Resurrection, Ascension, and giving of the Holy Spirit. This is the life of the Church, and it makes no difference who is in office, whether things are hard or easy, whether our religious freedom continues or is cut short, whether we live or die: Jesus is all in all, and we belong to Him eternally because He has claimed us in Baptism, absolved us of all our sins in His blood and by His Word, given us His most holy Body and Blood, and still keeps us steadfast in His Word. This is most certainly true, whatever else goes on in this nation or world. And it will always be true, as long as this weary world endures, and into the next, because Christ is the Truth. Against Him and His Body, the Church, neither governments or powers, not the world, not our sinful flesh, not the devil, not hell itself can prevail. The victory, in Christ, ours remaineth.

Pr. Winterstein

 

*St. Augustine (354-430 AD), Bishop of Hippo in North Africa, said, “For you I am a bishop [overseer]; with you I am a Christian.”


Bishop and Christian*, September 2012

As you probably know, this is an election year. You may be a Republican or a Democrat or a Libertarian or an Independent. But during these last two months until the election, there are some important things to remember. The first is that, as important as elections are when it comes to the future of this country, we should not confuse that importance with ultimate things. Elections in particular and politics in general are penultimate things (that is, “next to the last,” or not ultimate). This means that no election can ultimately thwart God’s will in Jesus Christ for you or for anyone else.

The second thing to remember is that politics runs according to reason, logic, and the best that we can do with our limited vision. We live in a country where we are free to elect the leaders we think will rule best, and it is up to us to convince others of our points of view. This means that we must argue our cases not from Jesus, or the Gospel, or the Church, or the Sacraments (all things that require faith, and so are not accessible to unbelievers); we have to argue from things that are open to all people, believers or not. When it comes to the amendment to the Minnesota Constitution about marriage, we don’t argue from what the Scriptures have to say; we argue from what is naturally observed about families and what is best for children. We argue from what is good for people, and what can be known from “nature” (although, of course, we know that God is the author of nature, which includes marriage between one man and one woman). We also believe that Christ died for all people, even the unborn. But when it comes to national and local politics, we argue from the fact that the unborn are, by virtue of their humanity, worthy of the rights that belong to all human beings in this country. Likewise with health insurance, the economy, etc.

Another thing to remember is that, because politics are penultimate, “winning” and “losing” are relative terms. They apply only to this nation, and they do not, in themselves, affect how we carry out our vocations in this life. No matter who wins or loses on November 6, no matter whether that person is the one for whom you voted or not, on November 7 you will continue to be citizens, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, workers—and, most importantly, hearers of Christ’s Word and new creatures whom He has claimed for Himself. His promise never changes, even (maybe especially!) when things do not go the way we think is best politically or economically. Jesus remains the Lord, and He will continue to do His work of forgiving sins and calling sinners to Himself, and He will return to judge the quick and the dead. This is still His creation, regardless of what politicians do, and it is good for them (as for us) to know that they stand “under God,” as they go about their vocation of ruling.

So educate yourself, do your civic duty, vote—and then trust God. Penultimately, you have a duty to do here, but ultimately God will do His will. And while we do not, finally, know what His will is for the United States as a nation, we do know what it is for us in Jesus Christ: that because He has redeemed us with His suffering and death and resurrection, we are His own, and we live under Him in His Kingdom forever.

Pr. Winterstein

 

*St. Augustine (354-430 AD), Bishop of Hippo in North Africa, said, “For you I am a bishop [overseer]; with you I am a Christian.”