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Since President Trump, the most controversial president in US history, moved officially into the White House, the rest of the world seemed to have been fixed on him. Various platforms share and interpret his policies so as to analyze the situation; there are also a lot of Christian public platforms.
Now I will take only one example to analyze, to help us understand how Christians should maintain a proper relationship with politics.
After Trump came to power, he also frequently showed goodwill to Christianity, which immediately drew attention from many Christian leaders, especially overseas Chinese Christians. They believe that Trump is the predestined one to improve the current universal Church, and he will have a great impact on the Chinese Church too.
In 2017, at breakfast for the national prayer meeting, Trump said, "I want to completely eliminate the Johnson Amendment and allow representatives of our faith to speak freely without fear of reprisal."
The Johnson Amendment was introduced in 1954 by then-senator Lyndon Johnson, who later became president. This amendment rules that tax-exempt groups, including churches, will lose their benefit when they carry out certain political activities such as express their opinion in favor of or opposed against candidates for election. In short, that is about the separation between state and religion. In essence, this goes along well with the ruling in the first amendment that a state should not officiate any religion as national religion or rod people of their freedom in religion choice.
The actual amendment in the Johnson Amendment is that previous tax-exempt groups will no longer enjoy such privilege when engaging in political activities. Therefore, church groups are not eligible for state elections or a range of political activities. One of the consequences of this is that a particular group may have a dominant influence on national politics when it is too strong. This time Trump's intention was clear. The abolition of the amendments was a sign of goodwill to Christianity and a token of thanksgiving to Republicans for their help in the campaign.
In response to this, many Chinese Christians believe that a Christian era quietly came on in prayer and many give likes to his statement about abolishing the separation between state and religion.
But I am not here to like it but to dampen it.
Let us begin with the events of Christian history. In history, Christianity is, according to some people, much more powerful than our church today. Because in history the power of the church is even greater than that of the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. At the beginning of the Roman Empire, the Church survived the bloody battles, not only survived, but also gradually climbed up the peak of power later on, starting to interfere in all matters of the empire including even who should become the emperor.
Don't you like this kind of church? But is this really good for the church? At that time throughout the empire, Christian have priority in all things, as the current veterans, retired cadres enjoy when they buy a train ticket. After the Roman Empire established Christianity as the state religion, the social status of Christians immediately changed dramatically. Once you were monsters, today you are pillars of the country. At that time a lot of people suddenly rushed to believe in Jesus in order to pursue their political aim, using and packing the church and they turned the church into a den of robbers.
Not only that, Christianity, which became the state religion, finally did not have to worry about being oppressed all day, on the contrary they began to stand up to bully others in the Roman Empire as notorious rogue and bandits. People came to faith not for the sake of faith but for their political ambition. And believers became the victims of this group of people who oppressed many people at the bottom of the society. It was a great joke that Christians who used to be oppressed became the oppressors in politics.
I have read 11 years of theology and have taken many theological classes in various places and have heard a lot of grass-roots' prayers: "Lord, turn our nation into a Christianized nation. Lord, choose our leaders so that they can trust you. " Many people understand this prayer as praying for the country, which is not correct. The prayer for the country is not this way; this is just another way to pray for our own interest. Suppose if my country became a Christian country, Wouldn't I as a Christian have a sense of honor? The prayer for the country is to ask God to keep our country calm and pour down blessings because of Christians, instead of pleading God to turn a certain leader into a Christian.
The Church should never rely on politics to improve her environment. Let us look back to Jesus' life, It is most probably that Jesus would solve the problem by politics, saying that he can ask God to send him 12 legions of angels to his aid? Think about it, which country's military forces could compare with the 12 legions of angels? No, there is no military force in the world that can penetrate into the spiritual world and defeat the angels. Nor did Jesus fight against the society by gathering heroes and talented people to him through his own fame; instead, he just took a seemingly the most useless way - he died - to break off the eternal suffering of mankind. Hoping for politics means that we do not put our hope in Jesus for Jesus' approach seemed too foolish, pedantic! However, as Christians, should not we use the method of Jesus? Why hope for political, external forces, and angels? Apart from Jesus, anything we rely on is idol.
Jesus wants each and every one of us to enter his kingdom. What Christians need to know is that they should not regard faith as a pastime of life, but to live a life of faith in the kingdom of Christ, using for the method of Christ. In the kingdom of God, any expectations for the external forces bring about shames. You can think, God is your master, your king but you are thinking about every day seeking help in other ways. How can such a belief attitude be acceptable to God?
Why do not I like Trump? For I do not like those Christians who rely on politics. As a Christian I am happy to see that everyone in the world believes in Jesus and I hope that everyone in the world will go to church, whether in a high position or in a low position. But I will never waste my desire on any people because my religious desire is only in God.
The separation of church and state is not good for the government, but for the church. History has proved all this. History is a mirror. There is such a failure experience, why do we still want to try it? I wish everyone in my country were a Christian, but I do not want her to disqualify other religion's existence. I hope that my leader will be a Christian. That means his relationship to Jesus, not his relationship with me at work or in politics. Apart from faith, we are still two different people.
Translated by Alvin Zhou
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