I’ve pastored churches that had “red-state” leanings as well as “blue-state” leanings. I’ve had the opportunity to meet folks like Mike Huckabee and Jimmy Carter. I had breakfast with Mike Huckabee this year after the two of us were both speaking at a pastor’s conference. I was speaking on Godonomics: God’s teaching regarding economic principles. I was sharing a clear message directly out of Proverbs 31 which outlines the Biblical support for an “others-focused” free market capitalism. The talk I gave was similar to this link.
Over breakfast. Mike and I talked about the high responsibility and joy of of pastoring. He told me of his days pastoring and his heart for people. He mentioned his days in the church. He was one of the few pastors who made himself constantly available to the local funeral homes. He told me that he enjoyed the chance to offer comfort to families and share the hope of Jesus Christ. As we chatted over breakfast, I was struck by his pastoral qualities. He hugged the doorman, the waitress, and several folks trolling in the hotel lobby. As we talked, it was clear to me that he was not running for President. His schedule for the next 18 months was packed full of stuff that didn’t allow for the chaos of a national tour.
As a Christian, he was committed to praying about the opportunity. It was obvious he had not completely ruled it out. HOWEVER…. If I were a betting man (and I have beaten my kids many a time in “cookie” poker), I would have given Huckabee’s chances of running at less than 5%. It was obvious he was enjoying life as well as his new job.
The Bible’s teaching about Christians being involved in politics is very clear. We are citizens of this world as well as citizens in Heaven. We are compelled and commanded to share His kingdom on earth in all arenas. Before you get too nervous, let me remind you that freedom and liberty of expression is one of the core teachings of the Bible: “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” Our Liberty Bell has a verse inscribed on it to this affect: “Proclaim Liberty to All the Inhabitants of the Land.” That’s not to say that God is a Republican or Democrat. The Bible gives principles that speak to politics while transcending any particular political party. His word challenges both red and blue. I was once asked in an interview if God is a Democrat or Republican, here is what I said:
Several years ago, I spent the afternoon with Jimmy Carter, but I didn’t get to have a face to face unfortunately. Jimmy Carter had partnered with Habitat for Humanity when I pastored in Lagrange GA. I saw Biblical capitalism, Godonomics, at work right before my eyes. Millard Fuller, a strong Christian and founder of Habitat, had come to town with Jimmy Carter to build homes for the poor and needy. Two of those homes were being built for families in our church. I watched as companies who had produced and profited were now investing and giving their resources to give a “hand up” to families I knew well. Two single moms were out there in tears watching the generosity of companies offering supplies to build them a home. Millard gave one of the most compelling messages I’ve ever heard about the linking of business, capitalism, and radical generosity. I watched the business model at work. Each family must help build their own home -instilling the incentive and hard work Biblical ethic into the project. Communities and churches sent volunteers to help come along side and build the homes.
Jesus said, “Whatever you’ve done unto the least of these, you’ve done unto me.” The Bible gives clear instructions to weave into a nation’s economic and political system. He tells us to reward hard work and punish laziness: “If you do not work, you do not eat.” The Bible teaches us that property rights, incentive, and freedom (three lynch pins of free market capitalism) are fundamental to any economy model. Despite the clear overlap of Biblical wisdom and politics, C.S. Lewis reminds us that.
Christianity has not, and does not profess to have, a detailed political program for applying ‘Do as you would be done by’ to a particular society at a particular moment. It could not have. It is meant for all men at all times and the particular program which suited one place or time would not suit another. And, anyhow, that is not how Christianity works.
Christians can disagree on politics, but must take seriously the commands that challenge their preconceived ideas. The Bible gives clear warnings about a large government (1 Samuel 8 “Show them the behavior of a king) and teaches us that centralized power of any government (red or blue) will maximize the sinful tendencies of mankind. The very idea of checks and balances is rooted in a Biblical worldview -warning a nation not to give any single sinful person too much power.
Jimmy Carter got famous in the 1970’s admitting he was a Christian, but still lusted after women. He was critiqued for it. There is A LOT that Jimmy and I disagree on, but we came together to help the poor and the needy 9 years ago. We saw the powerful engine of capitalism fixing the problem of poverty. We saw Christian leaders inspire companies to revitalize the nation -one neighborhood at a time.
Mike Huckabee may or may not be talked into still running for President. His announcement may be final, or part of a strategy to be “drafted” into running . I don’t know. I do know that we need more Christians shaking off the apathy and stepping into the arena of politics to practice His Kingdom “on earth as it is in Heaven.”
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