City on a Hill

Political activists of all stripes invoke the name and idea of “god” to validate their power over others, and they employ the most popular religious ideas and terms when doing so. Just as politicians in many Western-style democracies pay lip service to “Judeo-Christian values,” likewise, Augustus Caesar appealed to traditional Roman morality and deities for divine approval of his imperial regime and conquests.

Too often, patriotism and religious faith become intertwined and even synonymous in popular thinking, and any lack of nationalistic fervor becomes the equivalent of religious heresy.

Lighthouse in Night - Photo by Pablo Orcaray on Unsplash
[Photo by Pablo Orcaray on Unsplash]

Today, many church leaders participate in this idolatrous ritual, especially when partisan feelings run high. The inevitable result is the purported alliance if not identification of God, Jesus, and Christianity with the nation-state, culture, and governmental system of their country.

To maintain this fiction, presidents, kings, members of parliament and dictators claim their country is the “shining light set on a hill” that illuminates the rest of the world to show humanity a higher way, a presumptuous and idolatrous assertion to which many pastors and other church leaders voice a hearty “Amen!”

Politicians are not the most morally upright or selfless human beings on the planet, so one can understand their self-serving efforts to hijack Christianity in the pursuit of power and popularity.

However, it is an entirely different matter when “Christian” and church leaders join this blasphemous chorus, proclaiming their nation, its form of government or political ideology as the “light of the world” and the representative of God’s kingdom on the Earth.

Biblically speaking, at the heart of this controversy is not whether a country, culture, or government is good, bad, or indifferent, or whether God champions democracy, autocracy, or socialism over other forms of government.

Idolatrous statements of this sort contradict the claims of the New Testament declaring that JESUS is “the Light of the World” and the only true representative of the God of the Bible. On the lips of supposed men of God, attributing that role to anyone or anything other than the Nazarene is blasphemy and idolatry.

His light which, in theory, is reflected on the Earth by his local assemblies, is the true light that beckons all men and women to be reconciled with God. Jesus gave his life for the entire world, not just one nation, ethnic group, culture, or political system. The Bible labels him the “Light of the World,” not Western civilization, democracy, socialism, or free-market capitalism.

That some church leaders and organizations embrace ideas about a nation or political system being the “light” demonstrates how far from the biblical ideal they have strayed in the pursuit of political influence and power.


There is no true light, liberty, peace, or life apart from Jesus of Nazareth. Scripture declares that his church transcends all national, cultural, and ethnic boundaries. It is the priestly kingdom commissioned by him that mediates his light in a very dark world. Super patriotism and other forms of state idolatry adopted by Christians will only hinder if not derail his saints from this mission.

Jesus did not establish his true Church to propagate any of the political ideologies of this fallen age, but instead, to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom of God to every nation - “To the uttermost parts of the Earth.”

His disciples are pilgrims and sojourners in this sinful world. Their true citizenship is in God’s Kingdom. To be a loyal citizen of His realm means giving TOTAL ALLEGIANCE to its one and only Sovereign and Lord, which leaves no room for dual citizenship or split loyalties. According to the Scriptures, sooner or later all the existing regimes of this age will cease to exist. Effectively, they are “perishing meat.”

None of the present governments of this “evil age” has ever officially or directly acknowledged, let alone submitted to, the ABSOLUTE LORDSHIP OF JESUS. Therefore, whatever else they are good or bad, they are OTHER THAN CHRISTIAN.

Moreover, all existing nations and ideologies are part of the world order that was judged on Calvary. The forms and institutions of this age are, even now, in the process of “passing away.”

The immersion of many churches and Christians into partisan politics has diverted them from their paramount task - the PROCLAMATION OF THE GOSPEL TO ALL NATIONS. In doing so, their “lamp” fades as they cease reflecting the light of Jesus and instead demonstrate that their true lord is Caesar.

This is not a call to passivity or disengagement from the world, but an exhortation for followers of Jesus to reengage with it using the means described in the Apostolic Tradition, including prayer, self-sacrificial service for others, and teaching the Word, but above all by becoming shining witnesses of and for Jesus of Nazareth.

His Kingdom cannot be advanced by the ballot box, military might, economic dominance, or political power. Only men and women living cruciform lives submitted to his absolute Lordship can and will reflect his bright light in this very dark world, pointing all men toward the truth and life that are found only in Jesus Christ.




The Living Word

The Suffering Servant