I always find articles like these to be incredibly interesting. On a political basis, they are absolutely correct in showing no partiality among religions, as we technically aren’t a theocratic country. Though this may show contradiction to God’s higher judgment, it shouldn’t surprise us that this isn’t a concern to those who aren’t in Christ.
None of these things should shock us or cause us to waiver in our allegiance to the faith. Generally speaking, through church history we see a pattern emerge:
- The true church is persecuted
- The gospel flourishes and vast numbers come to genuine faith
- The church cries out against this persecution
- The state softens and even embraces the church
- The church becomes dominant in a theocratic way
- The culture cries out for tolerance of belief
- The church softens and even embraces culture
- The culture becomes dominant in a theocratic way
- The true church cries out for tolerance of belief
- The true church is persecuted
While we are not currently in a country that allows persecution to the point of death, look to the global church. Our nation doesn’t exactly stick up for the martyred or persecuted, and they are mocked and scorned by all for their stupidity. But it isn’t a matter of having a recognized Christendom in politics; that’s the church’s job, in and through whatever political system they may find themselves.
The question posed to the Christian is not whether this is an affront to God, nor if it is something that provokes His wrath. The question is not whether we will be able to change the nation politically. That doesn’t matter. Not in the grand scheme of things. Generally, unbelievers will always push back and Christians will always fight for God to be honored in the political system. But even in a theocratic society where one religion becomes the law, this hardly does anything to cause effectual, genuine salvation in a nation.
We aren’t aiming to cause the nation to be a “Christian” nation within moral standards that adhere to scripture. We are aiming at a more radical notion for the whole of humanity: belief in Christ as Savior and submission to Him as Lord. Wherever the church is present, the message remains the same: “…Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
We don’t have a realized eschatology, meaning, we are presently waiting for Christ’s return. He will demolish all political parties in favor of a new heavens and new earth, specifically because His Kingdom is not flawed and open to discussion. The seemingly rhetorical questions posed in 1 Peter 4:17-18 don’t alleviate the condemnation that is coming upon the unbeliever, but they aren’t necessarily devised to show only that point. The context shows that in light of suffering for the sake of the gospel (even unto death), the Christian’s suffering will not compare to that of the unbeliever who hangs by the slender thread of unbelief over the pits of hell.
Instead, in verse 19, Peter reveals that those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue in doing good. In other words, focus on living in obedience to the scriptures, and entrust yourself to the one who has dominion over all creation. Focus on delighting in and honoring the God of all creation standing sovereignly above it, dictating to the stars when they should burn up and perish; ordering the moon when it should draw the tide; causing the rising of the sun and rain to fall on both the just and the unjust.
Focus on growing in all godliness in respect to the salvation you have been so graciously given, and growing in all wisdom by the very same Word which ordered the cosmos. Focus on fulfilling the Great Commission, that we might see the ends of the earth having the gospel preached, and the ushering in of His glorious return. Focus on these things, and persevere in the faith so that you might be given a crown of righteousness, only to cast that crown to the ground as you prostrate yourself before Him in the new heavens, singing forth praises that are not tainted with sin and corruption. Run the race, fight the good fight, and keep the faith, my brethren, so that your efforts are not in vain and that you might be awarded on that day, along with all who have loved His appearing.