Ours is a missionary calling. Members Christ's body are sent into the world as aliens and ambassadors to a foreign culture. (Php 3:20; 2 Cor 5:20; 1 Pet 2:11) Let me state this negatively. We are not primarily administrators of Caesars domain. As most people in my subculture know, the church is not a co-dependent arm of pan-theistic governing powers who stir up the mob with the promise of bread and circus. The handouts these powers impersonally offer shame their recipients and support a vicious bureaucracy which is a cruel substitute for real covenantal presence in and with the poor. We get it, even if a large percentage of the country does not.
Yet, neither is the one true and universal Church of Christ a mob supporting a coercive insurgency—even if that pagan insurgency pretends to champion some of our values, and it won big yesterday. Jesus is not Bar Kokhba trying to throw off the Roman establishment and make God’s chosen nation great again. At the same time, Jesus is most certainly not Constantine, who in a fragmenting world, chooses to double down on the resentments of a culturally-Christian minority in order to prop up a newer version of an outdated regime. The results of yesterday suggest that that gig may be over, anyway.
Again, primitive Christianity, if consumer religion will let us be interested in such a thing, insists that Christians are foreigners. The point is not merely that our greatest loyalties ought not to lie with the host culture. Our primary function is to be an embassy representing a different Kingdom. The point is that even if Christians are granted the rights of Roman citizenship, our political engagement must be entered into as if we are missionary diplomats, guests of Caesar’s regime, making sensitive suggestions about how to love and die for saint and sinner alike. The church stands as an alternative temple to competitive politics, exhibiting the power of personal engagement and deferential love. This bears witness to the lordship of the true King of all ethnicities who is busy, himself, personally welcoming the stranger, personally coaching the poor, empowering men and honoring women, healing the sick, renouncing coercion, and freeing the addicted of every nation. Christian politicians, if that expression is not an oxymoron and an abandonment of our ambassadorial role, must seek the flourishing of the whole rather than agitate stronger factions who intend to stick it to the other sides.
This ought to be basic ecclesiology. But for those of us raised in the lap of Pharaoh, it’s hard to stop defending our position as the sons of Pharaoh’s daughter, and become a powerless ambassador for a nation of slaves.