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by Jacob Ninan
The word ‘realpolitik’ is defined as “politics based on practical rather than moral or ideological considerations” and is pronounced as rey-aal-po-li-teek. What we see around us in the political world is that even parties that are presumably based on ideologies that are different from those of other parties, when it comes to practical management of affairs, resort to shortcuts. It shocks us to see that, even though we realise that these people are handicapped because they do not have the grace of God with them. But when we come to us Christians who have become children of God and who proclaim ourselves to be those who know Him personally, can there be a discrepancy between profession and practice, ideology and real life?
Of course, all of us who examine ourselves honestly before God have to acknowledge that there is really so much of a gulf between what we would like to do as God’s will and what we practise. The apostle Paul has given us his honest testimony about how he ended up doing things very different from what he really wanted to do from his heart. We fail often, we miss the mark, and we even come short of our own expectations. But what makes the difference between a faithful Christian and a compromising Christian is this: a faithful Christian seeks to please the Lord at all times, he is grieved when he fails to do so, and he attempts to set things right with the Lord and others as soon as possible; a compromising Christian has accepted shortcuts and compromises as a way of life, and he even defends himself by saying that if we are to live in this world, we will have to make some ‘adjustments’. Making these adjustments is what realpolitik is all about.
There is much compromise in the way churches are organised and run. ‘Political’ manipulations to obtain and retain positions, selfish agendas of leaders, catering to the rich and the influential, holding back the truth to avoid ‘offending’ people (cf.Acts.20:20), watering down the truth in order to attract more people, accommodating popular views of the world and giving up biblical values, concealing sins among the people in order to preserve the reputation of the church, unrighteous handling of accounts and taxes, bribing government officials to bend rules, leaders who terrorise people with talks of their anointing so as to avoid questioning, leaders holding double standards for themselves and the other people, etc., are not uncommon at all, sad to say.
If such things happen among the leadership of the church who are supposed to help God’s people to grow in grace and become more like the Master (Eph.4:11,12), what would be the condition of the people themselves? Even those who start their spiritual life with zeal and enthusiasm soon understand that ‘adjustments’ have to be made in order to cope with reality. This new ‘understanding’ affects their moral thinking and practical behaviour, and soon they join the ranks of ‘worldly Christians’, who acknowledge their Lord with their lips and their ministry, but whose inner lives are not very much different from the others they call unbelievers. Is it not sad, for example, that the famous French philosopher Voltaire said that when it came to money all people had the same religion?
Where does this compromise come from? Humanly speaking, it is easier to compromise than to stand for the Lord and His principles and values because the latter requires extra determination, effort and endurance. We may try to stand against the pressure for some time, but decide in the end that we cannot bear it any more. Another reason is that we can get some advantages for us in our practical life if we compromise. We can go up faster on the ladder of success, obtain quicker solutions to our difficulties, escape some ridicule, enjoy the acceptance of the people around us, etc. Thirdly, Satan convinces us, just as he did with Eve, that God is loving and gracious and that He will actually overlook our ‘human’ failures. Satan exaggerates the meaning of grace in such a way that we tend to believe we can get away with practically anything because grace is, after all, an unmerited favour from God!
As a result, instead of becoming overcomers, we become real politicians, trying to get the best of both worlds. We will try to get maximum pleasure for ourselves on earth, reach to the highest position in our field, get recognition from the widest circles, and at the same time keep our name in the Christian world as a believer, actively involved in the church. But our hollowness becomes evident to spiritually minded people, and ultimately we become losers. “What kind of a deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?” (Matt.16:26 MSG).
However, let us also recognise that sometimes it is not easy to demarcate clearly between what God wants us to do and what the world is tempting us to do in the real situations of life. Life is not always coloured in black or white, and the grey areas can make things difficult to choose. If we are honest with ourselves we can say that many times it is not that we do not want to be pleasing to God but that we do not know what it is exactly that God wants. It is in the way we deal with these grey areas that God can see if we want to be overcomers or compromisers.
We tend to look at the outward circumstances, the opinion of people around us, etc., but God looks at our heart, and the desires and intentions of our heart (1Sam.16:7;Heb.4:12). We may think that our ‘peculiar’ circumstances compel us to act in a certain way and that we have really no choice. But what is important is to check where our heart is in the matter, whether we want to be overcomers in order to be pleasing to the Lord, or compromisers who really want to please only ourselves.
Sometimes we can unnecessarily make things difficult for ourselves because we fail to understand God’s heart in relation to our circumstances but we hold on to the letter of His word. For example, what would we do if we would like to set apart the ‘first day of the week’ as the day to spend worshipping God along with others, and we find ourselves in a place where it is Friday which is the weekly holiday? We can see how this would work out if we stick to the letter and how it is possible to make some external adjustment without compromising in our heart.
We can see now that it is essentially in our heart that we fall into the category of compromisers or we keep ourselves in the company of the overcomers. It is out of the abundance of the heart that all action follows. Perhaps we can say that overcomers are bent on doing the will of God, and they fight against their flesh and Satan’s suggestions in order to stand without failing God. They keep seeking after God for wisdom and grace. Compromisers, on the contrary, are not very serious about pleasing the Lord as much as they are about getting out of difficult situations.
Even if our heart is keen to overcome for the Lord, let us not forget that there is a compromiser in our flesh because we are the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve. At the same time, even if we have compromised much in the past, it is not too late now to repent, and turn to God in humility, seeking His grace for forgiveness and help in future to be overcomers (Heb.4:15,16).
-- Editorial in the Light of Life magazine, July 2015
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