This past week, we watched as Afghanistan was turned upside down. While it may be fashionable to consider the situation in Afghanistan and the Middle East more generally in political terms, as Christians we should take care to convey a theological perspective (a testimony) not only about the situation but also in our response to the situation.
As I’ve read and listened to some of my Christian friends, there has been a tendency to place blame. While I certainly desire to see appropriate individuals held accountable to the extent warranted by the situation, my concern is that when we focus on placing blame, we miss an opportunity to share the gospel. In debating the decisions made by our democratically elected leaders, we cannot neglect the proclamation of the kingdom of God. The world is not as it should be. Nations will fall, yet all those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ belong to a “kingdom that cannot be shaken” (Hebrews 12:28).
What does the situation in Afghanistan point to? It certainly points to the inability of the world’s governments to produce a lasting peace. Beyond that, it points to the flesh, to sin, and to the need for a wisdom that transcends human discernment. No matter how humane or cruel, humanity will never conquer sin and death. We will never think or govern or innovate our way to resurrection and ascension. Only the way of Christ can lead us there.
So, as we consider and discuss the events of recent days, I would like to suggest that we do so from a deeply theological perspective that leads us away from political posturing and toward prayer and proclamation. Whatever political or military means may be brought to bear on the situation is not the role of God’s kingdom. Rather, “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12). While it is certainly appropriate for Christians to participate in the democratic system, we can never allow our participation in that system to diminish our witness to Christ through whom God has redeemed this broken world.
If Christians only point fingers or advocate for one political solution or another, will we not miss opportunities to point the lost (who only trust in worldly systems and human solutions) to the cross of Christ? I believe we will. Do we avoid proclaiming the root cause of the chaotic events that unfold before us daily by advocating for solutions rooted in human ingenuity and effort? I believe we do. Still, I am not suggesting that we isolate ourselves from the world. I’m not suggesting that we never discuss such matters. Rather, my concern is that we take every opportunity to point a fallen world to Christ. After all, if we do not speak in the language of God’s kingdom, who else can?
May we be a people willing and able to speak for Christ. May we be a people who experience the world with senses transformed by the gospel. May we be a people dedicated to seeking first God’s kingdom and his righteousness because, as Dwight Moody reminds us, “If the church would only keep right on and build the walls of Jerusalem they would soon be built.”