The election is over. However, anxiety is not subsiding. It merely shifted to a different segment of society. Prior to the election, anxiety rested in the hearts of those concerned about "moral values." After the election, anxiety rests on the minds of those who fear the meaning of "moral values," who define moral concern differently.

Before the election there was great concern for the direction of this nation. After the election there is great concern for the direction of this nation. The only change: the identifiable groups of "the concerned."

What is the great deceit? This conviction: spiritual goals are achieved through political means. Christianity began among a people with centuries of allegiance to God, but who failed to recognize God's Son or God's message. Christianity spread through a Mediterranean world and Roman empire that were thoroughly, visibly pagan. It was impossible to ignore the prestige of idolatry in any major city of the first century!

The first Christians did not have favorable laws or champions in high political places. Their lifestyle, faith, and commitment were misunderstood. They often were considered atheists because their God excluded other gods. They often were seen as a threat to the empire, to "peaceful" community life, and to businesses that had a patron god or goddess. Families in both Jewish and Gentile communities often disowned a family member who converted to Christ. Opposition was so severe in Asia Minor that Revelation indicates those Christians wondered if the Christian movement was doomed. In the first century Roman Empire, Christianity was an illegal, "undesirable" religion.

Yet, Christians endured and Christianity as a movement prevailed. Through a triumphant political plan of action? No. Then through what? Through faith in the God who raised Jesus from the tomb and made Him the Christ; through an unconquerable love for God, people, the Christian community, and enemies; through an enduring hope for resurrection.

It reasonably can be affirmed that a grave blow inflicted to the Christian movement was Emperor Constantine's legalization of Christianity in the early 300's A.D. Shortly after that, "church buildings" appeared. "The gods had their temples -- how can there be an official religion of the Roman Empire that does not have a building?" Oh, the woes, debates, and confrontations within the Christian movement because of buildings! In time, the movement became synonymous with its buildings instead of its people!

Interesting! Was the emperor's pronouncement of legalization a blessing? Spirituality is achieved when personal faith is nurtured to the level of absolute commitment. If we think spirituality is achieved through a political process, we are deceived. We are blinded to more fundamental moral problems. Surely we should seek the peace to follow God's purposes (1 Timothy 2:1,2), but we should never confuse God's eternal objectives with our physical desires and wishes.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 14 November 2004

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