When I updated by Facebook Status to say my sermon was Politics from the Pulpit, I received a few comments.
[SLIDE – ?????]
Lots of personal messages flooded in. “You can’t do that!” and “Are you crazy?” Were the two most common. Some thought I would come right out and say “Vote for…”
[SLIDE – vote for…]
But I wouldn’t do that.
Others thought I would take the subliminal approach
They thought I would just put up a slide in the background showing a candidate for President and then continue on with the sermon as if nothing happened.
Do you know the trumpet is mentioned 119 times in the Bible? So if everyone would vote for someone who played trumpet that would be very biblical. In fact, it would also be a display of unity among Christians!
Of course, I would not do any of that. Yes, there are preachers on both sides of the political spectrum that do spew out political rhetoric, and we will see that God doesn’t like that.
How did that trumpet player get up there?
Political Life Today
In today’s political spectrum, we have problems that just about guarantee we will not have unity. We just need to look at the Presidential debates.
[SLIDE – Romney and Obama shaking hands]
Wait – instead, let us look at the social media reaction to the debates – that is much more interesting.
You saw some of the most vile, nasty and even violent reactions to the debate from both sides of the political spectrum.
I admit I’m a political person, but a lot of these people make me look like a neutral Swiss citizen.
This type of activity is very divisive and splits people apart. It even splits Christians apart.
I have seen Christian friends unfriend each other on Facebook over a comment. After the debates, we even had people shooting out the glass windows of campaign headquarters of both parties.
This has to stop. It is ok to disagree with each other on which candidate to support, but the acid hatred has to go.
[SLIDE – Goal: UNITY]
Before this sermon is over, I would hope everyone here will be united, no matter what party you are; no matter what candidate you support.
Political Life of the Apostles
[SLIDE – Apostle Stephen being stoned]
The apostles had a couple of groups that made their lives difficult. You might say they lived and suffered in a 2-party system similar to ours.
First there were the High Priests whom were threatened when Jesus said we didn’t need a high priest to approach God.
Maybe the high priests should have recognized Jesus as the Messiah whom they had been waiting for centuries to arrive. If they had, they could have become apostles and remained employed, but a lot of them didn’t and so they felt threatened and attacked.
The Romans were another group that caused trouble for the followers of Jesus. They were in the habit of appeasing the Jews who hated the Christians because they didn’t want the Jewish people rising up from under their control. In fact, the Romans turned Jesus over to be crucified.
Yes, the Christians had a very rough time negotiating the political system with spitting and name calling – sort of what we have in our political system.
Some politicians handled their differences a little different back then by throwing their opposition in prison, stoning, cutting off heads and crucifixion.
In spite of all this, Christians were united.
God Created Politics
Now, I have a revelation for you. God created politics. Yes, you heard me right. God created politics.
Now before you try and blame God for our predicament, remember what happened to Adam.
Adam ate the forbidden fruit and the first thing Adam said was “God, the woman you gave me, made me eat the forbidden fruit.”
God kicked Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden and made him work for a living.
So if you want more hard punishment in your life, try blaming God for the politics.
You see, God meant for politics to be uniting.
This brings us to how the followers of Jesus handled the political system. The Apostle Paul tells us.
[SLIDE – Romans 13:1]
Romans 13:1 (NIV)
1 Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.
God established the existing authorities. Let’s read that again.
God put them in place. How did the authorities get in their present positions? They got there through politics!
The King James Version of the Bible says “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.”
When God ordained the government, he made an appointment; He formally commanded the governments as to what they should do.
Once the authorities are in place, God expects us to submit to their authority. We need to follow the rules set by them.
After the election two Tuesdays from now, you may or may not like who wins, but there is one thing that you can be sure of:
Whoever is elected President of the United States is your president!
God commands you to respect the office that God himself put in place. Yes, we can complain to God as Job did, but you still have to respect the positions of authority God put in place.
Jesus told us we have responsibilities to God. He also told us we have responsibilities to our government here on earth. In Luke 20:25 Jesus asked some people who were spying on him whose picture was on a denarius and when they answered Caesar, Jesus said “Then give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
As Christians, we have responsibilities to God and also responsibilities to the governing authorities. This is where we get our unity. We get unity from following God’s rules.
What happens when the governing authorities and God’s law differ?
This reminds me of a sign I saw on a former boss’ desk.
[SLIDE – Rules]
- The boss is always right.
- When the boss is wrong, refer to rule #1.
Our Boss is God and he is NEVER Wrong! So if you sometimes think God is wrong, just see rule #1.
When there is a conflict between the government and God’s rules, God wins! We are to follow God’s rules above all other rules.
Make no mistake that God will take care of those in government who don’t follow His Word. That enforcement job is way above our pay grades, so we follow God’s rule and let God handle those who don’t.
Be aware that there is still a price to pay for following God’s words when they are in conflict with the governing authorities. People have lost their jobs for following God’s Word.
The Jesus and the Apostles suffered a lot worse than we do in this country.
Pontius Pilate washed his hands and turned Jesus over to be crucified.
The Apostle Stephen was stoned for following Jesus.
John the Baptist was imprisoned and eventually beheaded by Herod.
Paul was executed by Nero.
Herod killed James, the brother of John.
Despite this, Christians remained united in their beliefs.
But remember that the Roman government eventually collapsed because its leaders did not follow God’s commands and treat their citizens correctly.
Yes, there is corruption in all governments.
Look around at countries whose governments are full of people who are tyrants and continually disobey God’s rules. Those countries are not doing as well as other countries where more of the government follows God.
History is littered with failed governments whose corruption became so bad, the countries’ collapsed.
Let’s read further.
Romans 13:2-3 (NIV)
2 Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.
3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you.
You see, God gave governments authority over their people. If you rise up against government, God tells us they have the right to punish us. Furthermore, God let’s us know we deserve that punishment.
God also tells those in government to treat their people fairly and just. Our governing authorities are commanded to treat us well when we follow them.
Therefore, our government is answerable to God if they do not uphold their part.
Specifically, God tells the governments to follow His rules. After all, He ordained them from the beginning. And if you look at most governments in the world, they mostly follow the Ten Commandments.
The government punishes us when we kill our fellow citizens. They throw us in prison for stealing, and so on down the list.
Governments have police and armies to keep law and order, both on the local front and among countries.
Romans 13:4-5 (NIV)
4 For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.
5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.
This point is driven home: We are shown that our government is a servant to God to do us good.
As Christians, we need to submit ourselves to the government and obey the laws. As Christians we show respect for God when we willingly submit. This act of submission unites us as Christians.
We should do this willingly and not only out of fear.
There is something else we should do after the upcoming election.
The Apostle Paul wrote:
[SLIDE – 1 Timothy 2:1-6]
1 Timothy 2:1-6 (NIV)
1 I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone–
2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.
3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior,
4 who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,
6 who gave himself as a ransom for all men–the testimony given in its proper time.
Actually, we should be doing this all the time and not just around the election periods.
As Christians, we should pray for everyone. Paul does show the importance of specifically praying for all of those who are in authority.
This means we pray for our President, no matter if we agree with him or not. We pray for him because we are Christians and because he is our president.
In face we need to pray for all of those who are in our government – all the way down to the local government positions. We should pray that they will follow God’s commandments and rules. We should pray so they will allow us to “live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.”
This will please God and Jesus.
By all of us submitting to the authorities put in place by God, we remain united as Christians.
By all of us praying for our government officials, we remain united.
By living righteous lives and following the Word of God above all we remain United as Christians.
Let us pray:
- President and leaders in our government to follow your Word.
- For all officials in every capacity to follow your Word.
- For us to live in Holiness and Righteousness.