Posts Tagged ‘politics’

Loving Our Enemies

One of our “Prayer Goals” this Ministry Year is to grow in our Love for our Enemies.  I thought this was important for a couple of reasons:  it is something that Jesus teaches but is easily ignored and it is something we may need to apply especially during the political season of a presidential election.

This came into view last night in one particular way as I was watching the debate and following reaction on Twitter & Facebook.  A friend of mine reacted very strongly to something one of the candidates said and posted his thoughts on Facebook. Then came the chorus of amens.

I heard the candidate in a slightly different way and threw my assessment into the ring, to which he graciously responded and provided some more context for his reaction – which was helpful in understanding it.  That said, and I told him this in a slightly different way, is that our reactions must be governed by the command that we have to love.  Even enemies.  I think this can particularly come into view when we enter into political debates.

This is what I’m thinking and it is in process, but I think that love requires that we graciously characterize the comments and words of others, if possible.  I don’t mean we ignore words.  Nor do we just simply grin and bear hurtful statements.  But we don’t twist them or use them to score points.  We don’t take someone’s logical meaning and misrepresent it.  And even when someone misspeaks, as we all do, we aren’t standing nearby ready to pounce.

This is obviously very different than we will ever see during Presidential debates.  But it’s probably not likely any of us is running for President any time soon.    And even if someone uses their words to intentionally hurt us, we are still commanded to love our enemies.  One thing that was helpful in thinking about love for enemies was someting I just read on Monday in the book we are using in Sunday School (Love Walked Among Us, Paul Miller):  an enemy doesn’t have to be a permanent category for people in our lives.  Think about that and the command to love, especially if your are politically inclined and find yourself disagreeing with friends, co-workers, or even the candidates themselves.  May the Lord grow us in the kind of enemy loving that He has shown to us (Romans 5:8).

 

Change We Can Believe In or Not

Political Cartoon by Glenn McCoy

I was reminded of this picture of Samuel Armas reaching out during in utero (@ 21 weeks) surgery during the sermon today at Calvary

Praying for President-Elect Obama

Some good thoughts here from Ligon Duncan here.  (HT:  Ed)

Sermon on Romans 13:1-7

There are two things we are not suppose to talk about…politics and religion.  In this sermon, I got to talk about both on the Sunday after our national elections.  This is a part of our preaching series through Romans at Calvary and we were not intentional about this passage falling on this particular date (all things in God’s providence).   Anyway, here is the sermon information:

Passage & Title:  Romans 13:1-7…Submitting to God’s Servants

Theme:  How should submission to governing authorities characterize the lives of Christians?

I.  The Motivation of our Submission

A.  God’s Sovereignty
B.  God’s Servant
C.  God’s Spirit

II.  The Movement of our Submission

A. Towards Prayer
B.  Towards Repentance
C.  Towards The Kingdom of God

Reflections upon the Election

Here are a few random thoughts on the Election from the perspective of this Christian

  • First and foremost, Obama is our new president because the Lord has placed him in this position (Daniel 4:17,25,32; Proverbs 8:15; Romans 13:1-2 to name a few).  This does not mean that I  understand God’s purposes, but I do take comfort in Romans 8:28-30.
  • I voted for McCain, but I never placed my hopes in him.  I do not think the same can be said for scores of people who voted for Obama.  There will never be a Savior in the White House.  This is the danger of the change rhetoric and there has already been moves by Obama’s campaign to temper expectations.
  • Christians have a great opportunity to point others to the true Savior and King – this is always our calling and would be true still if McCain had been elected.  Mark Driscoll has a great blog post along these lines here.
  • I think we have a great system of government in general and I do think that it is a privilege to vote.  And as I write, I think of our military men and women who courageously guard our freedom and protect those rights (thank you!)
  • McCain’s concession speech was great – I thought he was incredibly gracious and struck the proper tone despite the obvious disappointment.  I do not think any Republican was going to win this election given the perfect storm of recent events.
  • I also found Obama’s speech to be powerful and eloquent.  This is certainly one of his strengths, but that doesn’t mean he will or won’t be a great president.
  • The “Yes We Can” refrain very clearly draws on the call & response that is typical of African-American churches.  It was part of the power of his speech.
  • It is interesting that Obama’s white heritage has been subsumed by the African heritage of his father.  I suppose he truly is an African-American.  On this note, I do think we can rejoice with those who rights have been trampled simply because of the color of their skin.  That said, this in no means ends racism and may make things worse in some corners.
  • If you didn’t catch my drift in the first point…I do not despair because of my strong belief and hope in the sovereignty of God.  This does not mean that I am not concerned, especially for the unborn.
  • We should pray for the Obama presidency (1 Timothy 2:1-3).
  • I am preaching on Romans 13:1-7, so a lot more of my thoughts on this topic are going to be honed through my preparation these next few day.

What are your thoughts the day after?

I voted

I voted.

New Halloween Phrase: “Obama-ing”

“Obama-ing” refers to the redistribution of our children’s candy after trick-or-treating during Halloween.  We think it is only fair that we should benefit from their abundance.

Good Reminder during political season

Here’s a good reminder during this political season from Mark Driscoll’s book Vintage Jesus:

Our culture is filled with various people who are proclaimed to be, invarying degrees, messiahs.  These messiahs include, for example, politicians who propose to save and deliver us from a terrible fate such as terrorism, poverty, or unreasonable taxation.  Such messiahs are surrounded by passionate followers who make sacrifices to support their messiah.  However, once their messiah fails to get elected, their support base dwindles and people either give up hope or go searching for another messiah to trust in.

Driscoll goes on to say that the lives of the early disciples did not follow this pattern, for though Christ would never win a popular election, he did rise from the grave.  Therefore, Christ became their only hope and He is our only hope.  Especially, if we want change to be real and not just a slogan.

Nature vs. Nurture in Christian Discipleship

Here is what I have been thinking about recently:

I have been thinking about the nature vs. nurture debate/discussion/dichotomy that has been applied to any number of societal conditions, norms, or problems.  Well, actually I was thinking about applying that idea to what I sense has happened in some regard in my own heart and in the church, and I wonder…

As Christians, we recognize that our nature is a sin nature.  Naturally, we reject God and war against his commands.  Naturally, we fight for the supreme place with God.  Naturally, we think of ourselves first and then we might get around to thinking about others.  You get the picture.  We also know that Christ brings a change of heart/nature by His work on the Cross (2 Cor 5:17 – “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold the new has come.”).  Finally, as Christians, we are placed in a new environment (the church) for our new life to be nurtured.

So, here is the question that has been rattling in my brain:  what happens when our Christian nurture (what I think of as discipleship) is actually contrary to our new nature in Chirst?  What wins, so to speak?  Maybe an example of what I am thinking would be helpful…

I hate politics, though I believe they are an important part of our system of government.  I hate politics because so little of the words, claims, or accusations are helpful or about anything meaningful.  But more than that, I hate my reactions (and the reactions of others).  A good friend, who does like politics, has been given the finger and menancing stares recently driving around and the only reason he can figure is because of the political stickers on his work van.  This is disheartening to me, but even more than that, my own gut-level reactions toward political parties, entities, and supporters is disheartening.  To bring it back around to the original question:  has my attitude of self-righteousness been nurtured in the church (as a pastor, what I have taught others)?  And more importantly, am I willing to react first in compassion toward those whom I disagree or even dislike instead of some political or “Christian” compulsion? Is my identity a color (red or blue) or a Person and do others know it?

This is my prayer: that compassion and love borne out of relationship with the King would be my guide as I see, react, and respond to our politicized culture.  And, that I would nurture in others the same, rather than a political identity that becomes too closely identified with the Christ’s Church.

So that is what I am thinking and my thought may not be fully formed (that’s my disclaimer!).  Am I onto something or am I off-base?  Hey, I’m just starting a conversation…

The New Bully Pulpit

Apparently Barack Obama’s church has become the new bully pulpit (pun intended!). You probably have heard about the most recent flap over a guest preacher’s words at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. If not, read here. McCain has also had his own trouble with endorsements or associations with well known televangelists as well. So, to be fair, it is not just Obama’s church, but has become true of many churches.  All of this has me thinking about the role and place of preaching; about the use and misuse of the pulpit.

It is from the pulpit that we should hear the Word of God expounded and the Gospel extolled. This may include addressing contemporary issues of the day, but what should be front and center is what God has to say through His Word to a broken people in a broken world. Unfortunately the pulpit in many prominent churches is being used for political gain and political advancement. I do believe that Scripture addresses matters of the state and politics, so that it is not so say there is never application and explanation to or of the political arena. What breaks my heart is that there are so many people who could be hearing about the Glories of God in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and they may not even know what they are missing.  There are also some sobering reminders and exhortation for the preacher in Scripture, for example:

2 Timothy 4:1-5
1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 5As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

James 3:1
Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judges with greater strictness.

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