Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Sunday Sermon Notes 11.09.08

With Election Tuesday past, I thought that the first Sunday of the "new" year ought to be dedicated to some reflection on what we will do now that the votes are in. All that work that so many Christians put into choosing the "right" candidate - what to do now that the candidate has been chosen, what to do with all those concerns we had...if it was a concern we had before the election, how do we take action on it beyond just voting?

It is worth noting: check your attitude towards our new president. Most people have the tendency to overlook any flaws in someone they already like; and most people tend to overlook any good traits over someone they already dislike. There is no need to treat our new president with kid gloves - be interested in knowing and speaking truth - acknowledge his strengths and weaknesses, don't gloss over his weaknesses and don't downplay his strengths.

Romans 13 was my text for the morning, we looked at four key passages to give us some direction on what kind of action to take in the years to come now that we have cast our ballots and are looking for change.

1 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.
What makes Christians unique is our public allegiance to God, we accept his authority and submit to it with glad hearts. In this text Paul is making the point that those who govern are also under the authority of God, whether they acknowledge it or not. Christians are to understand this point, and thus submit to those who govern as a way of submitting to the authority of God.
Takeaway point: Pay Close Attention to how those who govern use their authority. Our submission to their authority doesn't mean that we are disallowed from voicing the truth to how wisely they use their authority.

6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give to everyone what you owe: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
Christians are to avoid all slander - especially towards those who govern with authority over us, and especially when we disapprove with their use of the authority. It is one thing to publicly disagree with an action or decision of the President, it is another thing to start speaking half-truths, sharing destructive gossip, slathering on dirty adjectives, and demeaning character. You can disagree - even vehemently - without getting into name-calling, character defamation, and slander.

10 Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
Christians are to love our new President, we are to do no harm to him. Some Christians pray for the President as an act of love: I say then - be part of the answer to your prayers for the President. If you pray that he might have wisdom, consider how the LORD wants to use you to get him wisdom. If you pray that he might have courage to do the right thing, then consider how the LORD wants to use you to infuse him with courage. Of course integrity requires that we are seeking to live by the same wisdom and courage in our everyday life that we expect from our president.

11 And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.
Christians can be naive about their place in history, about why things are happening, and how to get the results they think God wants. Too many Christians default to "God is in control" and then do nothing. But Jesus gave evidence to understanding the times he lived in, waking people up to the current work of God, and inspiring/empowering them to take action. Christians need to understand the times and what is required to make the kind of change God envision for the world now.

Power is required to make change, and knowledge is power. So is moral purity: moral purity makes possible moral authority, and moral authority is a powerful change agent in influencing people do to the next right thing. We believe that the Spirit of God is granted to us so that God might channel his power through us: our knowledge of how God works, our moral purity, and our openness to doing/saying what God directs makes possible for God's great power to work through us. No doubt we are faced with situations that seemingly only God can change. God, however, puts his Spirit to work through until people wake up from their slumber and cultivate the kind of power God seeks to use to bless and redeem his world...well we'll keep on getting what we are getting.

With the votes in and our new president to be sworn in on a late January day, maybe some of us can make an early new years resolution: pick one...
Pay Attention to the use of the authority you submitted to.
No Slander from your mouth/heart towards those in authority over you.
Be the answer to your prayers
Understand the times in using your power

1 comment:

Kratz said...

Great blog posting, Pastor Tim. I hope it is all well received on Sunday!