“When we live in a world of violence long enough, it is easy to adopt violent means ourselves, especially when we know that our cause is righteous and the opposition is evil. Religious faith, especially when zealous, is no stranger to the exercise of violent force. And so St. John, having set down his counsel to endure, yokes it with a warning to not defect into violence. That would be just as bad as defecting into cowardly compliance. Had not Jesus, in as violent a scene as any of us will find ourselves, said, ‘Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword’? (Matt. 26:52). Killing the opposition is the sea beast’s [Revelation 13:1-10] way of solving its problems. It is not ours. Our is endurance and faith.
“This combination, endurance and faith, is not dumb passivity … The Christ-followers had learned something profound about sacrifice and death: endurance and faith are aggressive forces in the battle raging between God and the devil. It requires high energy to meet the sword with willed suffering, with embraced sacrifice.”
The greatest political events take place in the church.
Empires have fallen. Kingdoms have crumbled into dust. Kings and rulers have died and are forgotten. The church of the living God marches on.
Jesus joined no political party, held no political position, and more or less steered away from the political controversies of his day. But he built a kingdom that will never end; and to him every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
And now he reigns in the hearts of his people who gather to praise his name, to hear his Word, and to obey his law. As a result, true change takes place — change that sweeps across time and space and lasts throughout eternity.
This is the highest and the truest and the most effective politics of all.
Mighty are the events taking place in the church, earth-shattering and world-changing in their consequences: praise, preaching, prayer, repentance, love, and obedience! The world notices it not, but the very configuration of the heavens is being changed as the church kneels down to pray. Multitudes of angelic beings rejoice, filling the heavens with roars of joy and the thunderous noise of relentless clapping, over one sinner who repents at the preaching of the gospel.
No wonder the Enemy does all he can to undermine the church. Be that as it may, the Lord of the church has decisively defeated him.
Just a few more pages and I’m through with Bethke Elshtain’s Democracy on Trial. I guess the long and short of what I’ve learned from this books is that –
… human beings will always fall short of an absolute ideal… “the only reasonable hope for salvation from evil and wickedness at which men might arrive even in this world and even by themselves, without any divine assistance,” must be the imperfect workings of government, the flawed actions of citizens among citizens.