Monday, February 26, 2024

Political Power is the Problem

When I was young, I still had faith in political power. I believed that God’s people could use political power to establish his Kingdom on earth. I studied economics, political science and theology to learn how political power could be used to advance God’s purposes on earth.

What always worried me was the contradiction between human freedom and political power. The problem is that political power forces people to do things that they don’t want to do. At first, I assumed that it was fine to force people to do things provided that the things they are being forced to do are good.

The problem with this approach is that people have different ideas about what is good, and power cuts both ways. If it is acceptable for Christians to force people to do things that they do not want to do, then we must be fine if other groups who gain political power to force us to do things that we don’t want to do.

I tried to resolve this dilemma by relying on democracy to provide legitimacy. I decided that if Christians could gain a majority in a free election, they could legitimately use the power gained to force their values on the rest of society. I accepted that Christians would have to preach the gospel and win the hearts of the majority before they could use political power to establish the Kingdom of God on earth.

The victory of the gospel has not happened, and it is just as well because that failure has proved the weakness in my approach. Christians are now a minority in many democracies. They don’t like it when other groups use the political power that they have gained to impose their standards on us. What is sauce for the goose is sauce of the gander. If we believe that it is acceptable for Christians to impose their standards on society if they win power in an election, then it is acceptable for other groups that gain power to do the same, even if their values are hostile to God.

It gradually became clear to me that political power is a two-edged sword. If it is legitimate for it to be used to advance the Kingdom of God, it can just as easily be used to oppose it and to harm followers of Jesus. I eventually came to the conclusion that if we are serious about the Kingdom of God and the gospel that sets people free, we have to give up seeking political power. That is a step that most Christians are reluctant to take, but it is absolutely essential if we are serious about bringing in the Kingdom in God’s way.

Once I renounced political power, I quickly understood that Jesus refused to use political power to advance the Kingdom of God.

Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that (Luke 22:25-26).
Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place” (John 18:36).
Jesus refused to use political power to advance God’s work.

Once I realised that Jesus rejected political power, I came to understand that the spiritual powers of evil have used political power to increase their authority on earth. By attacking, manipulating and controlling political leaders, they gain far more power than they can get by possessing an individual person. Political spirits and government spirits have used political authority to leverage their power on earth, despite their terrible defeat on the cross. Those who try to use political power to do good unwittingly submit to the spiritual powers that control the political position they are seeking to use to accomplish good. Evil cannot be used to accomplish good.

To be honest, renouncing political power seemed like a backward step because I had assumed that political power would be essential for bringing in the Kingdom of God. At first, I was quite depressed about the situation. It seemed like the Kingdom of God was an impossible dream in this season. But I did not give up. I began studying the scripture to see if it was possible for God to bring in his kingdom without relying on political power and military force.

When I studied this issue seriously, I discovered that God had already given Moses a system of government that does not rely on force and coercion. The system instituted through him had no executive power and no compulsory taxation. There was no capability provided for enforcing the decisions. There was no permanent military force that could support government power. The entire system was voluntary. It is radically different from every modern political system.

I described Moses' system of local judges applying his law and voluntary military leaders protecting their community in a book called Government of God. It explains how Kingdom Communities can function without political power. They can voluntarily provide all the services that human governments promise, but fail to deliver. The book describes how the Kingdom of God can expand by the multiplication of voluntary kingdom communities.

Once I understood the problems of political power, my understanding of the nature of economics changed dramatically. The policies of modern economists cannot advance the Kingdom of God because they need to be imposed from the top by human governments with the power to make people do the right thing. I began seeking a politics-free economics.

I discovered the Instructions for Economic Life that God gave to Moses. I also found that Jesus had validated these instructions in his teaching about economics. God’s instructions for a community of people to develop an economy that can function effectively without the need for political power and coercion is described in my book called God’s Economy. The advance of the gospel by the power of the Spirit should produce a radically different society and economy. The most significant change is that there will be no human government to enforce economic policies. Economic and social change will come as more and more people choose to follow Jesus.

One of the biggest obstacles to the Kingdom of God is that most Christians still believe in political power. They disagree about how it should be used, but they believe that getting the right people into political power and changing laws in the right way is the key to advancing the Kingdom of God. This false belief has enabled the spiritual powers of evil to exercise power on earth way beyond their use-by-date, and the kingdom has not got any closer. If we are serious about the Kingdom of God, we must renounce political power.

No comments: