“Then when Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that He had been condemned, he felt remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying,”I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” But they said, “What is that to us? See to that yourself!” And he threw the pieces of silver into the temple sanctuary and departed, and he went away and hanged himself.” Matthew 27:3-5 New American Standard Bible
“Then Peter began to place a curse on himself and swear, “I don’t know the man.” At once, a rooster crowed. And Peter remembered what Jesus had told him: “Before the rooster crows, you will say three times that you don’t know me.” Then Peter went outside and cried painfully.” Matthew 26:74,75 New Century Version
“He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, and to love kindness and mercy, and to humble yourself and walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8 Amplified Bible
Politics, you find it everywhere from your children’s soccer game to your church. There doesn’t appear to be anyplace you can turn where politics isn’t having an impact on our lives. But there is one place it doesn’t belong, the Body of Christ, the church!
I would like to contrast the three verses in this post showing how politics can impact those involved in what we now call the church. But it began with 12 men who became the disciples of a man who was once a carpenter. Jesus entered His ministry by calling fishermen, a tax collector, and an assortment of men from other walks of life to be His followers or disciples.
It is notable that as far as we know Matthew and Judas were likely the most educated of the twelve. Judas, interestingly enough, became the keeper of the purse rather than Matthew, who being a tax man, would in my mind be the logical choice. Over time, even among these followers of Jesus we see the subtle infiltration of politics, the infighting for power, the desire to be seated in the place closest to Jesus! It became so bad two of the disciples sent their mom to ask Jesus if He would put her sons in those places of highest honor!
What is often forgotten is the cost to everyone when one plays politics especially in the Body of Christ where it never belongs, period! Politics in the church, politics in spirituality is nothing less than poison, which is what Judas and Peter discovered. However, each one responded to the damage to their heart and soul in very different ways.
Judas decided to play church politics with the “Big Boys”. You know the ones, the chief priests and elders who ruled over everything from the way the offering was collected to the way the church service was performed. Then, of course, they had the responsibility of deciding who merited help, who deserved their ministrations, and who was allowed to attend the worship service!
But Judas didn’t realize just how out of his depth he really was. These church leaders had been practicing politics from the moment they entered elders training. Besides, the plan Judas had hatched was doomed from the beginning. He never understood Jesus’ mission or what it was about. Jesus was not interested in forming some earthly government so He could rule here. That had already been established in His battle with the enemy in the desert.
Judas had seen the One who raised the dead and feed the masses from next to nothing, only a fish or two and a bit of bread. He decided all Jesus needed was just a little push in the right direction. It was exactly what the enemies of Jesus had been plotting, a betrayal. When Judas realized he had been out-foxed, it was too late. The wheels of the political machine had already been put in motion.
And in his misery Judas just couldn’t accept that Jesus had already forgiven him hours before in an upper room. It was there when Jesus washed his feet knowing what Judas was about to do that Jesus forgave him. Instead of accepting the gift, Judas went and hanged himself.
Peter found himself on the other end of the political spectrum. Those who claim no political ties claim they are neutral when it comes to the politics of the church. They just like to see who’s going to come out on top before they declare their allegiance.
So Peter chose to follow John as John trailed Jesus to the trial at the home of the High Priest in the middle of the night. It was difficult for Peter to remain hidden for long; he was quickly recognized. Here began the other side of the political coin. “I don’t know Him,” Peter told those gathered around the fire, except he had forgotten his quite distinctive accent. It had given him away!
Once more came the accusation; Peter was definitely one of the followers of this criminal on trial in the middle of the night. Notice how high politics meets low politics in the strangest of places, a trial at a church leader’s home in the wee hours of the night!
Again Peter found himself recognized by a political crowd, those he endeavors to hide among. It is here Peter meets his Waterloo. As he called down upon himself a curse, he heard a sound! It is one I believe he never forgot throughout the rest of his life, the third crow of a rooster. And Peter rushed off into the night wailing in anguish at what he had just done.
Meanwhile, John quietly followed Jesus as he sought to serve the One he loved to the best of his ability. John no longer desired any political agenda; He wanted nothing more at that moment than to follow Jesus. He reminds me of those in the third verse above. They are not noticed very often because they just want to follow Jesus by doing what he has asked them to do for Him in His Body! They want their church family to grow, they long to see the love and grace of Jesus rule the church board rather than someone’s money! Besides, God has already said if you don’t want to give cheerfully then don’t give at all. And cheerful giving is meant to be without anything attached.
You see the Church doesn’t belong to anyone but Jesus, it’s His Body, His Bride. It’s all His; we are all His, and there is no room for politics in His Body, His Church, with His Bride! This time I really want it to be clear because politics has messed up some amazing churches, and some outstanding shepherds. All because there are those who haven’t figured out they don’t own the church or the Church and neither one needs their money if it comes with political strings attached!
No matter your thoughts on God, on how intimately He is or isn’t involved in our lives, I do hope you will see and agree that politics has no place in the church. What belongs in the church is a willingness to follow Jesus wherever He leads.