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Politics and Our Community

To be a registered voter is to make a conscious and public declaration that you choose to be part of the political process of one of the Kingdoms of Men.
By DAVE JENNINGS
Read Time: 5 minutes

There was once a day across Christadelphia when this article would not need to have been written. For more than 150 years, our fundamental understanding of the commandments of Christ was that we are never to be part of the Kingdoms of Men.

In fact, Christadelphians made every effort to demonstrate that they were “apolitical.” Bro. Peter Hemingray (Within the Camps) recently chronicled the stories of faithful brethren who endured much hardship in civil service camps due to their commitment to follow the commands of the Lord.

“Apolitical” is an interesting word. It differs from political, where you are engaged in the activities and structure of the country you are in. But non-political is different too. Those who are non-political, may have opinions and positions about leaders and policies, but they choose to stand down for certain activities, such as voting. Brothers and sisters, we are a community dedicated to being apolitical.

This means we have no interest or involvement in political affairs and we have no position about the government we live under and the men and women that are engaged in its service, because we are not part of this Kingdom. (John 18:38) Because of this we also stand down from voting, political office-holding and military service, as the non-political do.  

I have high confidence that most of our community refrains from political engagement, such as voting. To be a registered voter is to make a conscious and public declaration that you choose to be part of the political process of one of the Kingdoms of Men. To vote is to step over an important threshold that states we are no longer ambassadors of Jesus Christ (2 Cor 5:20), sojourners in this country, but rather that we have joined in the governmental process.

However, some Christadelphians these days decide to hover in the “non-political” camp. They have and express strong views about policies and governmental figures. In a country that is polarized between Democrats and Republicans, some of our own members make no bones about who they think is incompetent or malicious. In today’s connected world, social media has become the ready place to share those opinions. There is little perceived accountability for one’s comments and they may find that there are other Christadelphians that even agree with their opinions.

But we don’t live in a social media vacuum. What we see on social media is seen by countless others. When one expresses a political view or position, it reflects on us all. I wonder if someone learning the Truth today would be able to see on social media (and not limited to social media!) a body that practices being apolitical?

What we see on social media is seen by countless others.

When I reached age 18, it was near the close of the Vietnam War. Selective Service was still active, and several of my classmates were drafted into active duty. Because I was a full-time college student, I was provided with a student deferment. However, I knew that it was still possible, based on the state of the War, that I could receive a letter commanding me to report. I lived with the prospect of being a conscientious objector and facing a grilling by a panel from the Selective Service, as had several a bit older than me.

I knew, however, that I could always rely on a few critical factors if I were to face Selective Service. First, I could explain coherently why I believed I should not participate in any part of the military or the government. I felt confident in my ability to explain my understanding of key Scriptures and to respond to likely questions from the panel. I could also demonstrate that I had not participated in any activities that would connect me with the politics of my country. Beyond this, I could refer the panelists to the cohesive stand of my religious community on military service and their commitment to taking an apolitical position. There was evidence this was not only my point of view, but the point of view of my entire faith community.

I wonder what that panel discussion might look like today? Might they produce social media posts from my brothers and sisters, expressing strong political opinions, as a means of refuting my apolitical position and that of my community? Embarrassing posts about the President, state officials or recent decisions? How would I respond to these? What if it could be shown clearly that I had seen these posts and said or done nothing? Worse yet, what if I had participated in sharing my opinion too?

You may say, well there is no draft anymore, so what’s the worry? First, who is to say that the draft could not be reinstated in a moment of time, and this time it is possible that both men and women will be included? Political expression also affects other areas. For instance, how do we tell a Judge that we cannot participate in Jury Duty because of our apolitical position, if we are making political statements on social media and in other venues? 

Political expression to friends and neighbors, or even on social media, affects us all. It sends a message that we are not aligned as a community on the Scriptural teachings in this area. Worse yet, it communicates that we are straddling the line between having a singular alignment with the Kingdom of Heaven and with the Kingdoms of Men.

Jesus Christ is our only King, and we owe our full allegiance to him.

Let me take this idea a bit further. Could we see division in our community, based on secular political views? Could a day come when the aisles of our ecclesias are separated by political parties and candidate alignment? Could there be conflict between brethren over a bill in Congress or the actions of a candidate?

This is not wholly uncommon in other Christian denominations. There is no place for this in our community, brothers and sisters. The nation we live in is divided by such identities. But we, as believers, share only one identity – brothers and sisters in Christ. He is our only King, and we owe our full allegiance to him.

The Kingdoms of this world are all slated for destruction – including the one we live in. Living in North America, we have been blessed with great freedoms, which have granted us the liberty to meet and practice our faith with little or no harassment. It is right for us to be thankful for this. God has blessed us greatly to have these freedoms.

We are commanded to obey and be subject to the magistrates (Titus 3:1) and to pray for those in power (1 Tim 2:1-3). We are instructed to pay our fair share of taxes (Rom 13:1-6). But it is never right to participate in the machinery that governs this land. Doing so corrupts our alignment as individuals and a body under the sole sovereignty of our God.

It used to be that one could watch the evening news to learn in an unbiased manner about major developments in this country and across the world. But news today is entertainment. It caters to niche audiences that are conservative, moderate or liberal. It is very easy to allow the messages of these networks to influence our own thinking.

The stakes are high for us today to rise above this and to sort out what is rhetoric and what are facts. Do not be drawn into their appeals and condemnations. It is one of the pollutions of the world, an invisible, toxic vapor that sickens us (1 Pet 2:20).

Soon, we will, by the grace of our Lord, stand with him as he establishes his worldwide government. It will be the moment we have all longed for. We stood aside from the Kingdoms of Men for this very moment. We professed that he was coming to rule in righteousness – and now he is here! 

This is an appeal to all Christadelphians to remain faithful to our only King. To exclusively support his laws and commandments. It is an important witness to the public and within our own community. 

Dave Jennings

 

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We as Christadelphians are not alone in our belief regarding not participating in the governments of this world, neither historically or in this day and age.
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