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How have American values and politics affected the church?

Differences of opinion when it comes to politics, race, sexuality, and other hot-button topics threaten to pierce and divide the church; some would say they already have. This is not as God intended things to be.

He constructed the church to be separate from the culture, yet welcoming. We’re set apart from culture, yet we welcome in newcomers and send them out to impact culture. You meet as a church, then you as the salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16) are sent back out to impact the culture that’s around you.

Mike White believes that problems arise when the church is heavily influenced by culture. “The culture around us is not a distinct people of God. They set their own rules, and as we saw with cancel culture, it changes and moves. What truth is this week, we don’t know what it’s going to be next week, and then that influences the church to not be what God desires it to be.”

In Week 2 of Hot Topics, Mike examined how politics have affected the church and suggests how we should respond.

How have American values and politics affected the church?

We’ve allowed the American Dream to infiltrate the church and being “American” supersedes being “Christian.” (22:00)

“So frequently we identify first as American and then a distant second as Christian. In the American Dream, am I leaving my kids with more than I had? Will they have a comfortable life? Am I saving enough to retire in my early 50s? Am I motivated more by the American dream or by the Christian faith?”

The call for the Christian is to see everyone in the image of God.

1. Christians are more influenced by their news outlets and politicians than Scripture. (26:50)

“I think we allow our news media to saturate us with what we should believe, how people are personified in groups, as opposed to soaking in the Scriptures and allowing that to determine our mindset and how we act out.”

“Too often, we as individuals go to church to have our beliefs confirmed rather than challenged by the Word of God. We have a handful of hot-button issues and we say, ‘Where does your church stand on this and this and this…’ We become a homogeneous people that latches onto a few issues and that’s what we trumpet all the time.”

2. When we proclaim our rights, we are revealing which citizenship takes priority. (32:50)

“We’re having a mis-ordered citizenship, and we’re not even dual citizens! We’re citizens of Heaven, period, that live in America and have American rights.”

“Jesus had an upside-down Kingdom where He died to Himself literally and figuratively and He gave up for others. That’s why the early church flourished. They gave of their wealth for a greater purpose. The call is to think Christian rather than Democrat or Republican or American.”

What if we prayed for our leaders and honored them with language?

3. We allow secondary or tertiary categories to define people: we categorize, assume, and negate the image of God. (37:10)

“The call for the Christian is to see everyone, regardless of political affiliation or beliefs on any doctrinal issues, in the image of God.”

How should the church respond?

God calls us to honor governmental authorities… period! (50:45)

“What’s shaping your worldview today? What if you prayed for our leaders instead of posting that article crushing someone’s policy? What if we prayed for our leaders and honored them with language? Honoring with language stands out in our culture. Dishonoring language is so stinking easy and contagious.”

Romans 13:1-4 – “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God’s servant to do you good.”

Pray for unity, embrace other Christians, welcome everyone, and change the world! (55:00)

“Unity in the church is staggering. Engage in conversation. Have a diverse set of people. There are 100 references to ‘one another’ in the New Testament alone. What if we ‘one another’ more than dividing?”

John 17:20-21 – “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”

The Christ follower should use their freedoms to lead to peace and unity. (54:50)

“There is a laying down of freedoms in the church. There is a laying down of rights. There’s nowhere in the Bible where it talks about vaccinations and masks and immigration. But if we laid down our rights for the greater good of the body, we would stand out. We would be more unified in purpose. This was the early church.”

Philippians 2:1-5 – “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.”

About the Author

Dan Hoppen

Dan is the Director of Small Groups at King of Kings. He’s the author of the book, God’s Broken Heroes, and has a second book coming out this fall in cooperation with Concordia Publishing House. Dan also is an avid foodie who hosts a weekly restaurant podcast called Restaurant Hoppen, on which he interviews chefs and restaurateurs from around Omaha.