Nero was the Roman Emperor during the time when the apostle Paul was writing his letters to the various churches in the 1st century. Nero was no saint. He had an affair with his slave girl Acte. He had his mother executed. And when Rome burned, he blamed it on the Christians to remove suspicion from himself and had many of them executed. Now Nero is probably a familiar name—but not because you read about him in the Bible. In light of his immoral, anti-church policies, it is notable that Paul didn’t use one drop of ink to critique this godless ruler.
Paul did write generally to encourage believers to honor and pray for kings and those in authority (Titus 3:1). He urged believers to maintain a posture of peace , knowing that would create a climate where the gospel could flourish (1 Timothy 2:1-4). But he never spoke out regarding civil rights violations. He never advocated for legislative changes. He never called on the church to march in protest. Now I realize that American democracy is different than the totalitarian regime of Rome. But I can’t help but wonder if the church (and individual believers) fixate on political issues more than we should.
When I suggest that President Trump is not that important, I don’t mean it as a de- rogatory statement. He is a valuable human being created in the image of God. But he is just that—a fellow human being. He is not the enemy of the church. He is not the advocate of the church. He is not the hope of the church. I just wonder whether we are giving him too much airtime.
And I wonder if it is distracting us from our mission. If I were to evaluate your faith based on watercooler conversation at the office, the banter in the school hallway or your social media posts, what would I conclude? Does your neighbor know you as follower of Jesus or as a staunch Democrat? Are you known as one who is always offering to help or are you the guy who is angry over the latest transgender legislation? Jesus did not command us to bring about political change or public morality but to take the gospel of God’s grace to the world. Let’s stay on point.
Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/northcharleston/33023889881