Are Christians Influencing the Powerful? Or Vice Versa?

“There is a man in your kingdom who has the spirit of the holy gods in him.” (Daniel 5:11)

The queen mother of Babylon was present when King Belshazzar saw the writing on the wall (in a literal sense).  When the kings advisors could not read — much less interpret — the words, Daniel was consulted.  As I noted in a previous post, Daniel was direct and to the point, speaking truth to power.  Read Daniel 5 for the complete story.

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Daniel Interpreting to Belshazzar the Writing on the Wall, by Benjamin West

The world’s leaders will eventually look to the righteous.  That seems to be one moral of this story (the inevitability of divine judgment is the larger lesson).

But this seems out of touch with reality.  Today the righteous are mocked, despised, ignored, or even worse – seduced by power.  Daniel too was seen as irrelevant by this powerful emperor, but when Belshazzar faced a crisis and ran out of options, he turned to this marginalized prophet.  Daniel, unlike many religious lobbyists, despised power and spoke God’s truth.

It seems to me that today’s Christian political action groups have become little more than mouthpieces for a political party.  I see this with the Christian right and the Christian left, both falling in line with the Republican or Democratic platforms.  These Christian movements probably have good intentions, but political clout can easily distort one’s message.  Christian PAC’s, like any PAC, are highly susceptible to the corruption that comes with power.

Will the day come when powerful politicians notice righteousness and the wisdom that comes with it?  Will there be men and women who care more about the truth than power and prestige?  Are there any Daniels out there?

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About Corey Sharpe

Where do we get our beliefs? Three theological perspectives have significantly shaped my Christian identity: Evangelicalism, the early Methodist tradition and liberation theology. From my coming to faith in a Baptist church and throughout my education in a Baptist school and college, I was nurtured by convictions that emphasized a spiritual rebirth, a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and the centrality of the Bible. Even when I disagree with certain aspects of evangelicalism, it has deeply influenced my sense of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. My seminary studies spawned my interest in early Methodism, particularly its approach to spiritual formation. Its leaders were convinced that only a foundation of doctrine and discipline would lead to a meaningful transformation of the heart and mind. In other words, having the mind of Christ enables me to be more like Christ. Life in a suburban culture obscures the increasing gap between the poor and rich, as well as the Bible’s close identification with the poor. My doctoral work in socio-cultural context exposed me to liberation theology, which helps me see redemptive history as a history of oppressed groups, written from the perspective of the powerless, about a God who is actively involved with the poor in their struggles. I am now the pastor at Huntingtown United Methodist Church in Calvert County, Maryland. Together my wife and I are raising 4 young theologians.
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5 Responses to Are Christians Influencing the Powerful? Or Vice Versa?

  1. Carol says:

    Your words:(the inevitability of divine judgment is the larger lesson).
    That’s the answer, isn’t it ?
    We see through the glass darkly now, but one day it will be clear to us.
    All persons are subject to corruption. And some more than others.
    it is foolish to suggest that politics and religion are not intertwined, for good or for bad, because they just are.

    • Pastor Corey says:

      But the question remains, “Who is influencing whom?” A political leader may sincerely desire the counsel of a righteous person. A person with Daniel-like qualities will influence power, rather than be influenced by it.

  2. Carol says:

    Is anyone seeing a person(s) with Daniel-like qualities on the scene today? Anywhere?
    My opinion is that, if there is such a person, he is not making himself available to politicians.
    Do politicians today seek religious input from any other when it is so un-pc to do so? That habit of religious counsel has gone by the wayside in America. Apparently.

  3. Ann Denbow Simmons says:

    Good afternoon,
    I apologize for the break in communication. I am up and down and it seems lately more down than up – put I am still hanging in there only by the grace of God. Carol I still owe you a response to your previous question way back when. I am recuperating from having walking pneumonia. The doctors discovered my breathing problem when I went for my cardiac rehab evaluation this past Monday. It is remarkable how God just seems to keep taking care of me! “This is the day which the Lord has made and I shall rejoice and be glad in it!”

    In response to your Q Pastor Cory, it is not politically correct anymore for any candidate running for political office rather local or national to place his religious felling in the public eye. In fact our country has become so far from God and the aspects that our for-fathers set forth for this country that any political person who even admits to their faith is scrutinized by the public/media. President Bush was scrutinized for praying and attending the church he attended. President Regan was scrutinized by the press for publicly seen praying and for stating that he prayed daily. It seems people today in our country are more concerned and afraid for a candidate that admits his faith and belief than they are to have a candidate that is qualified and/or supporting those issues that set our country apart from other nations and why our for-fathers immigrated to this country to begin with.
    Separation of church and state is very big for the media and others within our nation,
    How far has our nation fallen from God’s grace and why have we fallen from God’s grace?
    Have we fallen from God’s grace? Some claim yes!
    Have a fantastic day!
    Ann

  4. Janice says:

    Sorry it took me so long to get in on this blog. I would love to hear politicians talk more about their love of God, and not be afaid of losing votes. Of course if politicians do talk about their faith, they become material for late night comedy. I think God is patiently waiting for people to turn towards Him, Billy Graham served as religious council for some Presidents. He would be closest to a Daniel today, in my view. No, I don’t believe our politicians are searching for the truth — getting votes is all that matters for all parties. Sad.

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