Christian Utopia and the Body Politic

Vote The Bible
American Christians have for centuries envisioned a Christian utopia in which their society is governed by Christian officials with Christian laws and morality in place. After all, this is what the Puritans from an oppressed Europe envisioned as they made their way toward the New World during the early 17th century. The vehicle through which American Christians both yesterday and today often use to attempt to create and maintain this utopia is not through the church, but through the American political system; to which they also believe was divinely orchestrated by the very hand of a Christian God. Any deviation or opposition to their perceived Christian political or social order is considered evil, ungodly, or even Satanic; often branded with the label of “liberal” which almost always have negative connotations to them. These Christians often resort to exclusion and isolation as the means to distance themselves from others who either oppose or simply think differently from them. This often leads to a form of “us vs. them” tribalism causing strife and division. Sadly, much of this envisioned utopia is driven and powered by fear-based rhetoric and propaganda. They claim that if their society does not submit to or agree with their political and social order, then surely their country will crumble, ultimately falling into the very hands of the Devil himself.

This brand of Christianity comes from the idea that God will establish His kingdom on earth. It will be established through human power and might leading to a form of theocracy in which the Christian God will rule their nation through divinely elected Christian men and women. This is the very same ideology that permeated 1st century Judaism as they waited in eager anticipation for their prophesied Messiah to deliver them from the great oppressor and establish a great Jewish utopia. When Jesus the true Messiah came to Jerusalem not on a majestic steed with pomp and circumstance, but instead on an obscure colt with only a few ragtag disciples trailing behind, the Jews were most assuredly disappointed. Only later did they witness this Jewish King being flogged and ultimately executed upon a Roman instrument of death known as a cross. Little did they know that the Kingdom of God was indeed in their midst. But, the way in which Jesus became King and Lord over all was not by might, power, and politics, but through the sheer love, grace, truth, peace, sacrifice, and service toward others. Not a single sword was raised, nor a single political action signed; His kingdom was ushered in by individuals willing to love and serve others at the expense of sacrificing their own lives just like their King.

How many American Christians today envision their utopia in much the same way in which 1st century Jews did? We Christians seek to establish a Christian kingdom through our elected officials, political action committees, and social protests, turning a blind eye to the King who sits atop a colt in our midst. But, it is only when our society witnesses the true kingdom power of Christ in the form of holistic, incarnational ministry, and evangelism will our society truly be transformed. When we Christians seek to love and serve all people from all walks of life, even those who we may deem our enemy, will the true power of Christ radiate like a beacon of light on a hill capturing the souls of those who need Him most. Until then, the American church has a lot of introspective soul-searching and idol-smashing to do… namely the idolatry of the American political and government system found within the confines of the American church.

Politics and government in of themselves are not evil; in fact they are established by God himself (Romans 13:1). But, when they become the vehicle, or the alternative, for which the Christian church should be otherwise interacting with and engaging our society, then it becomes evil. For then it merely becomes yet another government imposed policy. And, we know lives are not changed by forced policies, but only by the voluntary freedom of the soul. After all, the reason why the American government is so large today, is not because of some liberal socio-political agenda or conspiracy, but because we the church have delegated Jesus’ command to “love thy neighbor” to Uncle Sam. It’s time we the church give Uncle Sam the boot and change our society not through the might of Caesar, but through the power-under, servanthood, and humility of Christ. Not through the institutionalized civic religiosity of Constantine, but through the down and dirty, in-the-trenches, relational aspect of kingdom Christianity.

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Greg Dill, along with his wife and three kids are missionaries serving amongst the Roma (Gypsies) in the country of Albania. Their mission is twofold: to introduce the Good News of Jesus Christ and to help move them from abject poverty into productive and self-sustainable lifestyles through education and the development of simple business skills. Their ministry website is www.fivedills.com.

Photo Credit: spirit of america / Shutterstock.com

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  • bluecenterlight

    If all those who call Christ Lord in this country were to live out the first century churches example, self sacrifice, living simple, rejecting materialism, devoting our lives to the kingdom and being Jesus to the poor, how many of the problems we face as a society would be solved? It is amazing that we try every other way except the way that was laid out before us. Probably because it is difficult and scary. But trying to keep one hand on the world and one hand on Christ is an impossible task, at some point we are faced with a choice.

    • SamHamilton

      Good points! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been directed to the Acts 4 community as a model for how to organize our society using the government when the people pointing me there haven’t even begun to organize their own community in this fashion. Yet they want to force non-Christians to live this way.

      • bluecenterlight

        Exactly. We have been brought up with the ethic of rugged individualism, but the first century churches example is of interdependence. There are so many opportunities for Christians to join together and make a real difference, and yet we tend to be paralyzed by fear. I liken the church to cliff diving, we all seem to be standing on the edge looking at each other wondering, who is going to jump first?

        • SamHamilton

          Good analogy!

  • http://twitter.com/dukeofsurf Dennis Laing

    Sorry, but that might mean men who went to “Bible College” and love to be seated in the important places might lose their upper-middle class pay and white collar benefits. Very impractical you know.

  • SamHamilton

    Greg,
    I agree with much of what you wrote here. Some Christians are far too eager to turn to the government to impose our version of what society should look like. I’d imagine that many of the other people who blog here might disagree with you though. They’d probably argue Christian values don’t animate our government enough.

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