Christian Life 

Serving two masters?

In many areas of life the Christian believer finds him/herself in positions of conflicting loyalties; the political battleground is strewn with compromise, capitulation and double standards. How should believers behave?

by Watchman

StressAround a decade ago I received a telephone call very early on Sunday morning. It was unusual for the ’phone to ring at that time and I answered the call quickly – thinking perhaps it was a problem with a family member or some other emergency. In fact the call was from a Christian friend (let’s call him James) who was a leading member and official within one of the mainstream UK political parties.

The occasion of the call was during the annual conference of that particular party and James was due to speak to the assembled party leaders, officials and members later that morning. But James was in turmoil.

He explained the situation of finding himself and his Christian conscience in conflict with a particular, but very important part of the party’s policies and manifesto. James realised that he had a choice to make that day: he either had to speak to the gathering in terms of his Christian convictions or, alternatively toe the party line – hence his call seeking counsel and prayer. James explained – and by this time his words were punctuated by deep sobs – that if he were to speak out what he truly believed then his career and years of work (and quiet witness) within that party were finished.

Of course it was up to James to come to the decision for himself; and we prayed over the phone before concluding the call, for wisdom and a peace of heart. James is still very active in the party; and I never did feel it right to ask him how it went that day.

I never did hear a cock crow

It may have been that the Lord freed him later that morning from the situation he was anticipating; it may have been that he was able – in the immediacy of the moment of crisis – to ‘square the circle’ of conflict in his conscience: perhaps he felt the Lord telling him to ‘keep quiet’ so as to maintain his standing and witness within the political hothouse.
Of course there is also the possibility that he fell into the sorry situation of the apostle Peter when asked to state his allegiance. In fact I didn’t hear any cock crow three times that morning, and I am happy to believe that no rooster did.

However the incident powerfully illustrated the dilemma. If an individual wants to influence events in our world then they have to first get into a position of influence. But here’s the rub. To get into a position of influence it is very often necessary to sacrifice the very ideals that one is fighting to implement.

For many and for most of the time, the question remains as a philosophical abstract, but at times it leaps onto centre stage. For Alex Salmond, his party and his fellow MSPs – some of them particularly who are believers – we are seeing one of these moments now.

Ed footnote:
It is often debated as to whether Christians should be involved in politics at all; and if so whether to work within a secular mainstream party or seek to establish an exclusively Christian party. At the end of the day it is up to each individual believer to seek God’s will for his or her own life.

However, as mainstream politics and society as a whole moves towards an increasingly Christian-hostile position on so many issues, the question points up the dilemma for life within the secular political parties.

It is one of the conundrums in the world of politics: to bring influence and in order to drive change, one needs to attain a position of power; but to gain that position most often requires compromise at a host of levels – including the temptation to fall in line with party policies and the public mood. (And to fail to do so means banishment to the wilderness.) For the Christian believer the conflict can be unwinnable. Jesus did say that his followers cannot serve two masters.

See article: Alex Salmond being boxed in by God

Watchman, 08/08/2011

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George Mackay (Guest) 13/08/2011 08:28
In the political realm (but nto just in that) there are times to speak and times to remain silent. In evangelism in hostile situations there are may be opportunities to speak out boldly (and be arrested or deported), but it might be better to 'keep quiet' and get tjhe message across in other ways.
The point is that not every situatin is "black and white".
Peter Carr 13/08/2011 09:31
I am not suggesting that every situation is black and white, I am however suggesting (re Isa 43 quoted above) that God's view of our witnessing is very clear!!

George Mackay (Guest) 13/08/2011 10:06
Sorry, when you siad - there is no middle ground for any Christian, it is really black and white" that is what came across
Peter Carr 13/08/2011 10:08
My understanding of the article relates to our witnessing for The Lord, no matter what sphere of life we are involved with.

Misunderstandings are easy to come by on forums
Editor 13/08/2011 17:44
What the article is intended to illustrate is that there are times when dilemmas present themselves. And what might be right in one situation may be wrong in another. And how one individual might respond (under God) can be different from how another treats as situation (under God).
Peter Carr 13/08/2011 18:47
Yes, providing that we always bring in God's perspective, i.e. what God expects from us as His representatives in this day and generation.

I was dismayed to hear the Bishop of London speak on the 4th day of the riots in a very wooly way, not bringing in God's word, name or perspective once!!

Surely the recent events give Christians the opportunity to explain from God's perspective where this once great nation has gone wrong, as we see clearly explained in prophetic message through Lance Lambert.

It seems to me that this word through Lance Lambert is indeed a Word from the Lord. So, as the Lord doesn't speak in wooly terms, then neither should we, as the article points out to the Church/Christians!!

Jenny 13/08/2011 20:12
Well, I know moral philosophers like to dream up elaborate, nonblack/white ethical dilemmas, and their students love debating them.
My hunch is that if things seem that obfuscated to the average Christian in real life, the most likely reason is that we haven't yet managed to clear away the mists of self-deception and self-interest.
God is faithful to his promises. If we use the means he has given us, prayer, godly counsel and the study of his Word, I believe he will always make the right course plain.
Nine times out of ten, his will is much less hard to discern than it may be to do.
Peter Carr 13/08/2011 21:08
Yes Curlew, you have hit the nail on the head, knowing what we should do and actually doing it is where the rubber hits the road in the Christian life.

Isa 43: 12 "I have revealed and saved and proclaimed"

Do we really take these words seriously, and understand the responsibility that they bring to each of us as Christians - revealed, saved and proclaimed?
Editor 02/08/2012 14:48
The following report illustrates the difficulty of mixing the 'oil and water' of Christian principles and secular politics -

"A Christian councillor from the Green Party who refused to toe the line on redefining marriage is facing an internal inquiry described by one critic as the “worst kind of totalitarian politics”.

Christina Summers was the only elected member on Brighton and Hove City Council not to vote in favour of lobbying the Government over the issue.

Following her move, an internal party inquiry has been set up – and Cllr Summers has also been subjected to abusive emails from outside the council."
Philip (Guest) 03/08/2012 07:45
"Following her move, an internal party inquiry has been set up – and Cllr Summers has also been subjected to abusive emails from outside the council."

Welcome to the UK's 2012 version of democracy! The recent undemocratic Scottish govt's consoltation on marriage says it all.
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