Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Foreign Policy

With all of the fuss going on right now concerning the ‘health care debate,’ I was surprised the other day to see that ‘health care’ is still not the primary concern of the voting public. Right now, the ‘economy’ is the top priority of the voters out there.
At other times, ‘national defense’ may be the top priority in our country; or ‘trade’; or ‘human rights’; or even ‘environmental’ issues. But, things change in our country or around the world, and suddenly our national priorities change.
What about the priorities and ‘hot button’ issues in God’s kingdom? Do they change with the circumstances in the world or at the whims of our culture? Of course not.
Although the various ways that socio-political-governmental issues have manifested themselves over the centuries have changed (from the ‘Great Wall’ as a defense policy to satellite missile defense systems), the basic issues and concepts haven’t – just the way they have been prioritized. But the issues that are most important in God’s kingdom haven’t changed at all.
Different folks could probably make arguments that all kinds of ‘governmental’ issues (such as national defense, welfare, the environment) are addressed in the Bible. People will use biblical ‘excerpts’ to debate both sides of almost any issue. But what I discover about the most important issues in God’s kingdom doesn’t require any strained interpretations or out-of-context quotes. In fact, it is my opinion that the most important issue in God’s kingdom - foreign policy - is addressed in unequivocal language in one, specific verse:
“[G]o and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them
in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you."

Matthew 28:19-20

There is God’s kingdom, and there are all of the others. The ‘foreign policy’ for all citizens of God’s kingdom is simple: make disciples of everyone in every other kingdom.
That seems pretty clear to me. Yet many of us obviously don’t really get it. So, in the style of some of the recent ‘town hall’ meetings, I’ve allowed the submission of pertinent questions related to this policy pronouncement:
■ “This doesn’t really apply to that jerk next door who leaves his garbage on my lawn, right?” Wrong.
■ “O.K., I can probably handle the concept of going ‘across the street’ to spread the message. But you’re not talking about going ‘across the tracks,’ are you?” Yes.
■ “Should we wait until people show an ‘openness’ to the message – until they are ‘seekers?’” No.
■ “So, you mean we should be taking the message of ‘Christianity’ to those natives in the deepest, darkest jungles who worship the moon?” Yes, but not only.
■ “Surely you don’t mean those radical extremist terrorists out there, do you?” All nations means ALL nations.
■ “We pay missionaries and evangelists to ‘go,’ and then we will build churches and create curriculum to help the converts grow, right?” No.
■ “We all have certain spiritual gifts, and mine isn’t ‘evangelism.’” No excuses.
■ “Am I supposed to sell everything and move to the other side of the world.” Maybe, maybe not.
We are not members of a political party who get together and formulate platforms and policies. By His grace and by His love, we were made heirs and citizens of His kingdom. The foreign policy set by the Leader of our kingdom is: campaign everywhere for our Him. If anyone anywhere is not a follower of Christ, he is a foreigner to whom we have been sent.
You can find statements dealing with ‘defense’ policy in God’s Kingdom in Ephesians 6:12-17. You can find ‘Kingdom’ policies dealing with ‘welfare’ in James 1:27 and Matthew 25:34-40. You can even find ‘environmental’ policies in Genesis 1:26.
But the issue that makes His heart beat fast - the top priority in His kingdom - is His ‘foreign policy’: Go and make disciples.
Is that the top priority in your life?
Or do you let economic issues distract your focus?
Are you more concerned with securing your boundaries, rather than breaking down walls in order to spread the message?
Are the ‘human rights’ of the oppressed more important to you than the eternal destiny of the lost?

I know that I often let other issues cloud my vision and take priority over what is most important to Him. But that needs to change. I am a citizen of His kingdom, not an expatriate. I want His foreign policy to be my marching orders. I want to be a part of telling ‘foreigners’ about ‘citizenship.’ He’s my Leader and I owe Him my complete and total allegiance.
Are you with me?
Jesus made it clear that when we received His ‘stimulus package’ (the Holy Spirit), then:
“[Y]ou will be my witnesses in Jerusalem,
and all Judea and Samaria,
and to the ends of the earth.”

Acts 1:8


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