OceanSide church of Christ
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EVIL POLITICS IN THE CHURCH
Victor M. Eskew
Dictionary.com defines the word “politics” as: “the practice or study of the art and science of forming, directing, and administrating states and other political units.” The word comes from the word “politic” which means “shrewd or prudent in practical matters.” Politics involves the handling of the affairs of state. Those who do so should be shrewd and prudent.
Every organization, even the church, involves some form of politics. The affairs of the church must be directed and administered. The work of the church will not just take care of itself. Ultimately, Jesus is the head of the church (Eph. 1:22-23; Col. 1:18). He has delegated authority to men called “elders” who oversee the work of the local congregations (Acts 20:28; I Pet. 5:1-3). Deacons, preachers, teachers, and members are also an intricate part of the politics of the church. All members assist in the work of the church. All have roles that enable to the church to carry out its mission on earth.
Politics is supposed to be a positive thing. However, during the course of history man has turned the word into something that is dirty and ugly. Most do not like to talk about politics. When it is discussed, it often turns into an argument. Sadly, many of the players in the realm of politics have corrupted the system. Most individuals would assert that there are no honest politicians within our government. It is believed that they engage in all types of immortal behaviors to keep their seat of power and to enrich themselves upon the wealth of others.
One would think that within the church politics would maintain a very positive definition. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Politics in the church can be just as evil as the politics within our government. Let’s look at some of the evil politics that can develop within churches. First, there is a desire for power. Some individuals do not like to follow. They want to be in control of all things. This was the problem that Diotrephes had. John revealed that he “loveth to have the preeminence among them” (III John 9). The word “preeminence” means “the desire to be first.” As the first, Diotrephes had the ultimate say regarding all things. His love for power was his problem. This same desire exists among some today. They love authority. They love to direct. They love to be in charge. They love to tell others what should and should not be done. Jesus warns us as His disciples about such a desire. “But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant” (Matt. 20:25-28).
Another evil in church politics involves division. In the United States government, we have a two-party system. Really, there are tens of divisions within our politic system. The same happens with politics in the church. Parties, groups, or cliques develop within churches and within the brotherhood. These divisions occur over doctrines, practices, power, and personalities. Some are on this side and some are on that side. This group sits on this side of the church and that group sits on that side of the church. The Bible teaches us that variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, and heresies are all works of the flesh (Gal. 5:20). Those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God (Gal. 5:21). James warns us that strife and division are devilish in nature (James 3:14-16). The church should endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph. 4:3). We should be the example to the world of what real unity entails (Ps. 133:1; John 17:20-22).
Another way politics in the church has been corrupted is through partiality and favoritism. Friends favor one another to the exclusion of others. Big donors are catered to over the smaller donors. Races and cultures tend to show favoritism one to another. Age groups often favor others of a similar age. Favoritism excludes. Favoritism divides. Dear readers, God does not play favorites. He is not a respecter of persons (Rom. 2:11). When Paul addressed the young evangelist Timothy in I Timothy 5:21, he exhorted him not to show partiality. “I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.” This is one of the most difficult things for political figures to shy away from. Power, money, and influence talk. It is easy to be very chummy with those who possess these things.
Another horrible aspect of politics in the church is constant criticism of others who are looked upon as the opposition. Presently, our national politics is overwhelmed by criticism. Everyone is looking to find the least mistake. Every word and action is twisted and maligned. One would not think this would be the case in the church. All of us understand that we are human. We know that we can make mistakes. There are no perfect people. Those who lead us do not need our constant criticism. They need our support and encouragement. They need those who are willing to obey and submit to their leadership. This is not the way it is in some churches. Evil politics raises its head in the church. Individuals become the most severe critics. They will even criticize others for things they do or have done as well. Jesus warns us against ungodly judgments against others in Matthew 7:1-5. In verses 1 and two, He states: “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” When we find ourselves being harsh critics and involving ourselves in constant judgment of others, we need to be careful. We are often caught up in evil church politics.
Churches must be led. The works of the church must be administered. In others words, we must have politics in the body of Christ. Those politics, however, need to be holy and godly in nature. They need to conform to the teachings of God’s Word. Let all members of the Lord’s church beware of the desire for power, a disregard for unity, an involvement in favoritism, and a desire to be a harsh critic of others. All of these are warning signs that the politics in the church are being infiltrated by Satan. We should never get caught up in the politics of corruption, division, and destruction. God has condemned such politics in the precious body of Christ.