A Kingdom Lesson From The Government Shutdown

So, I am not big on politics.  All of you who know me know that, and you also know why.  For those who don’t know why, I’ll explain.  Early on in my ministry (between approximately 9-13 years ago) I was a lobbyist in New York State.  I was a political front liner for women’s issues, and was even a part of several bills that became state law and at least one that later became national law under the George W. Bush administration.  There is a very retro picture of me from circa 2000-2002 with a lobbying group (mostly ministers) and Assemblywoman Patricia Eddington on one of the lobbying excursions I went on back in those days. I remember the first time I lobbied in Albany, NY and how intimidated I was by the size of the building.  Having to run between all the different offices and be punctual was always interesting, and having to convince politicians about the benefit of our bills was always a challenge.  Over time, however, my enthusiasm waned as political involvement quickly became a lesson in futility.  We’d get one bill passed, and then have to get another bill passed to cover the loophole someone found in it to not follow the other bill.  I reached a point around 2004 where I realized that if I wanted to impact people’s lives, spending all my time in legislation was not the way to do it, and I needed to focus on Kingdom work and community education rather than trying to convince politicians about passing bills that they could not care less about.

In 2004, I fully committed to Kingdom work, and I never looked back.  I do not criticize people who engage in lobbying or activities of that nature; likewise, I do acknowledge the Christian’s call to pray for leadership and those in governmental power (1 Timothy 2:1-4); I just knew the work it was not for me, and was not where I was called to be.  When I became a “citizen of heaven” (Philippians 3:21), my perspective on the world changed, as did my level of interest in world events.  As an apostle, called to be “all things to all people” (1 Corinthians 9:19-23), the United States became a place where I live, but it does not define me, nor my identity.  One day, if we truly understand Bible prophecy, we recognize the United States will be no more, the government will be no more, and being so obsessed and fascinated with it is a danger point that begins to hamper our witness and ability to evangelize to others.  If we are Kingdom minded, we need to be just that – focused on the Kingdom, with our confidence in God.  

That doesn’t mean I don’t know what’s going on.  It doesn’t mean I don’t have an opinion about political matters; it just means that, as a rule, I don’t voice them.  I don’t want to argue about Republicans and Democrats; I don’t want to fight with people about viewpoints; I feel like politics have already destroyed enough of the church.  However, I am realizing that the shutdown is about more than just a shutdown; God is trying to reach His people and teach us things through these events.  There is prophecy at work here which we, as Kingdom people, need to pay attention to so we hear what God is saying to us, so we can learn from it.  

In that spirit, I write this note.  Please note: I am not writing this to debate or argue about things; this is a slam on no one specific, nor any specific set of political beliefs…this is just learning from events…heed the Word of the Lord…so we don’t have to encounter Kingdom setback due to human mismanagement!              

A Kingdom that cannot be shaken – Too many people are dependent on the government.  We don’t like to say it, but it’s the truth.  No matter what your political beliefs are, Christian television today acts as if our futures lie completely in the hands of American leaders and American principles.  Last time I checked, Jesus was neither Republican, nor Democrat, nor elected, nor retired, nor American.  God is still God and He is still in charge!  People are making idols out of this nation, its ideals, and its leaders.  The United States is not now a Christian nation, nor has ever been one.  Anyone who claims it was doesn’t know their history or is conveniently leaving out the Masonic, occult, and secret society ideals it was founded upon.  The United States is a secular government, a secular power, that is subject to be “shaken” because it is just as much a part of this world as any other.  As people have made it their idol, it is subject to be shaken as God calls the church to stop, look at itself, and realize that people are putting their hope in something secular, rather than in God.  Last time I checked, there is one Kingdom that cannot be shaken: See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:25-29, ESV)  As the government shakes, showing forth its instability, we can see all the more God’s stability.  God has created His church that has withstood the test of time.  Have people influenced it at times? Yes.  Are there many divisions therein because of the frailty of human beings to cooperate and get along? Yes.  Despite man’s ridiculous interventions, corruptions, and even attempts to destroy it, the church remains as God’s people all over the world call on His Name.  The secret of the true church? Trusting in God, not in man, or in secular powers!  You want to be prosperous? You better start investing in the Kingdom rather than in the stock market!!!

When leaders don’t do their jobs… – We talk a good game when it comes to unity, but do we really mean it?  I meet people who can’t even work with their own church staff, let alone a leader of another church or denomination.  What we are seeing in the government is paramount to how we interact in the church – only this time, we are able to see the results.  A bunch of griping, immature people shut down the entire government because they aren’t getting their own way and can’t get along with each other.  The result is that innocent people, who have absolutely nothing to do with the debates they are in, are now out of work, in jeopardy of losing benefits, or somehow otherwise suffering because the leaders can’t grow up and compromise/work together.  When Kingdom leaders are immature, fighting and debating with each other, causing division, and just shutting things down because they can’t get along, innocent people suffer who have nothing to do with the questionable debates or disagreements.  In the early church, the apostles, elders, and leaders had disagreements; some of them were even documented in the Bible.  Whether it was about rules or regulations, whether or not someone had to become Jewish to be saved, or about other matters, the leaders of the church had to get together to discuss things, and make decisions: “The apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider this matter. And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith. Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”  (Acts 15:6-11, ESV) When it came down to it, the heart of the matter was to do what was in the best interest of the church and remember there were people relying on their consistent voice, unity, and maturity to govern in the best interest of everyone.        

Who are you ministering to? – Apostle Nikolaos G. Brown posted the following status on the shutdown today: “Okay! I’ll comment about the government shut down. But very mildly and theologically.  I find it oddly funny that those who are posting all day about the government shut down are the first to thrive off of what their ‘haters’ are talking about next or what their ‘enemies’ are “Promoting” them to next. Though, I find it even more interesting that the very people Jesus surrounded himself with are those we claim to be afraid of (ie: Tax Collectors [IRS], The Treasurer, The Blasphemers (Those who talk against you), The betrayers (Those who willingly deny you in front of others), The low class (Those we look down upon) etc). I also find it funny that Jesus hung out with those who would be out of a job today thanks to the shut down. So, maybe it is desirable that you PRAY for your inner circle rather than POST about other people’s inner circle. You may never know who you are hurting by your negative posting.”  Hmmm….now there’s something for all of us to think about, as Christians and believers.  It’s very convenient that American society has created an American version of the faith that often turns its back on those who were a part of the founding of the faith, even walking with, talking with, and learning from Jesus directly!  Are you praying for the people who are now out of work as a result of the shutdown?  I know we have a million IRS jokes but…did you consider someone at the IRS lost their job today?  How about the fact that someone who is perhaps opposite your own political views is now out of work?  American Republicans and Democrats alike – people who may be sitting next to you at church – might no longer have a job because the government shut down.  How are you going to reach out and minister to these people?  Are you going to gossip about them, turn your back on their needs because their viewpoint on how to do things is different than yours?  Are you remembering to pray for others?  How about respecting, as Apostle Brown so eloquently put it, other people’s “inner circles” – the people who are around and support other leaders as well?     

Kingdom expansion continues no matter what the government is doing – In some of the most awful persecutions in history, the church flourished.  Despite oppression, government shutdown, and whatever else you may see going on in the secular world, the Gospel continues to be in demand, people continue to preach, lives continue to be saved, healed, and restored, and ministry continues.  Don’t let government shutdowns shut you down.  If you’re called to preach…minister…teach…whatever it is for the Kingdom…now is as good a time as any.

I believe the shutdown should call us to attention.  We need to examine ourselves and see if what we are doing is shakable, or if it is stable.  This world is going to shake, shake, shake until it exists no more.  The Kingdom cannot be shut down, nor can it be shaken.  Let us be level-headed, practical, and attentive to Kingdom matters.  Most importantly, let us stop being so divided along secular lines.  That person without a job right now who goes to your church is your brother and sister in the Lord.  Those government leaders who can’t get along right now are a type of the attitudes and division we see in the church on a daily basis.  Those people not working together in the government right now, that’s a type of us here in the church not working together.  Step back, think, watch, pray.  Most importantly, change.  I don’t want to see your ministry shaken because the foundation of the Lord can’t be found within it!

(c) 2013 Lee Ann B. Marino.  All rights reserved.  Image

I am front row, second from the left, circa 2001


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