Politics and the Church 1

LOVE this community. - One of the things that I love, is the diversity here.

One of the things that I've been really careful of is that I never want to make people feel pressured to think like me, and act like me. But instead to create a commity where despite incredible diversity, we find unity under the banner of Jesus.

I'm just really proud of that, mainly because I think it looks like the community that Jesus created, and felt home in.


In the time that Jesus was alive, much like the times we find ourselves in, was a time of incredible political volatility.

Zealot - Political party - Violently overthrow government. Hated most: tax collectors

Tax Collector - Basically the ultimate sell-outs.

They betrayed race, and their religious heritage. To work for the government. - And they would even steal some for themselves.

What amazing, is that it was common thing for Zealots to KILL tax collectors. - To make a political point.

Disciples : Simon - Zealot / Matthew - Tax Collector

Matthew - Rush Limbaugh // Simon - Communist

So if you think it gets awkward at YOUR house on thanksgiving, when people talk about politics, imagine how it went to have the tax collector and the zealot at the same table.

They have NOTHING in common but Jesus.


Jesus calls a man who wants to assassinate tax collectors and then a tax collector and to both he simply says follow me.

My task: Is to take a room full of zealots and tax collectors, and to once again point you to a kingdom that is different.

And to remind you that there's something bigger that unities us.

And to remind you that, In God’s kingdom - our differences dwarfed by what we have in common.

And to MAYBE, by the grace of God, help you to maybe even understand each other a little bit.


More Damaging - Bile

I'll be honest : I'm really looking forward to this election being over. I believe that more damaging that whatever happens in this election is the bile that we've spewed at each other over the past year.

I believe that the devil has tricked us into thinking that politics are more important than mercy.

You can say the right thing with the wrong spirit and be the wrongest person in the room.


Why on earth would you ever do a series on politics?

The answer - As a pastor. - What that means 'Shepard'.

I'm concerned for the health of your soul. Inner Life

I want to help you keep your soul connected to God and to others.

I know who I'm speaking to today.

I'm speaking to Americans in 2016.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:10)

Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (1 Peter 2:10)

Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. (1 Peter 2:11)

Too much politics is bad for your soul.

A little bit is fine.

Spend too much time defending your worldview and criticizing others, can turn you into a cynical, mean person - that looks nothing like Jesus no matter how 'right' you are.

The only thing that will be left of all this fighting in 6 months is just wounds, and damaged relationships.

Half - population - immoral idiots.

As Christians we refuse to believe that the structures of the world are the most important thing. They're not even close.

And I want you to know that it's possible for you to have strong convictions AND see people the way that Jesus saw them. - With eyes of love, compassion, and understanding.

Too much politics teaches you to hate. Who you would never hate on your own, you learn to hate through too much politics.

As you might expect, hate is very bad for your soul.

Reminds me - Jesus - Matthew 16

Reminds me of what Jesus said in Matthew 16 - what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and lose his soul.

Christians have known for 2000 years that being too concerned with the things of the world is bad for the soul.

Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. (2 Timothy 2:3-4 Paul)


3 Disclaimers

  1. I have no desire to steer you away from having political opinions.
  2. I have no desire to steer you toward having stronger political opinions.
  3. I have no desire to steer you to the left or to the right.

I believe that the left wing, and the right wing are two sides of the same bird - that I want almost nothing to do with. And it's a bird that looks nothing like the peaceful dove of the Holy Spirit.

Books

The Politics of Jesus - John Howard Yoder

The Myth of a Christian Nation - Greg Boyd - How the Quest for Political Power Is Destroying the Church

The Righteous Mind - Jonathan Haidt (height) - Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion - Social Phycologist


Wk 1: A Tale of Two Kingdoms

There's something that before we move on, we have to make abundantly clear.

If you are a Christian…

  1. Your allegiance is to Jesus.
  2. You are a citizen of the Kingdom of God
  3. In whatever earthly nation you live, you are a foreigner.

Jesus was killed for political reasons.

The word is treason.

Edward Snowden Most of you know about Edward Snowden - currently a wanted man - he could possibly be charged with treason. - COULD get the death penalty.

Well Jesus was charged, convicted, and executed for treason.

The opponents of Jesus believed that Jesus presented a threat to the nation.

Why would they think that?

One of the primary reasons was that people would abandon loyalty to nation for loyalty to Jesus.

Matthew 16 - Peter :

"Who do you say that I am?” Peter:
“You are the Christ.”
"Bingo."

What does that mean, Christ? Well it's not Jesus's last name. No, Christ means "The King".

The Jewish Messiah - "King of the Jews"

So what Peter is saying is this : "Jesus, you are the real King. The world has an opinion about who the King is, but you are the real King.

So when they're saying "Jesus Christ is Lord" they're saying he's not just king of the jews. He king of the whole world.

How many people can guess that the King of Rome (Caesar) would not appreciate that kind of talk?

Some might consider that : Disloyal. / Unpatriotic. / Treason.

These Romans didn't care about another religion, they cared about disloyalty to nation.

Jesus would give his life for it.


And it doesn't stop there - If you want to sum up the gospel message - the message preached by Peter, Paul, James, John, Andrew, Phillip, Nathan, Thomas, Simon, Luke, Stephen, Mark -

"Jesus is Lord."

Not GOING TO BE. "IS".

Original language, They would say "Christ is Lord."

What does Lord mean? - It means emperor. - Cesar WAS Lord. On their coins - Cesar is Lord.

But the apostles are saying, no Cesar is not Lord, Jesus is.

So they're making a direct statement and there's also an implied statement.

Direct: Jesus is Lord.

Implied: And Cesar is not.

B/C there can't be two Christs. / Kings.

So they're making the contrast here. "You say Cesar is Lord, and we're correcting you and saying that Jesus is Lord. Jesus is the emperor.

Very radical, very dangerous.

It's why Peter and Paul end up in prison.

"Jesus is Lord and Cesar is not."


Paul is in "Philippi".

Paul is in "Philippi". - Large city, important city, roman empire.

Preach "Jesus is Lord and Cesar is not."

Paul & Cilas - prison.

Singing hymns

Earthquake comes

Doors open

No one escapes b/c Paul says "Don't move."

Roman jailor commit suicide, Paul "Don't do yourself any harm, we're all here."

Jailor asks "What do I have to do to be rescued?"

Paul "Believe on emperor Jesus, the real king." - See how edgey that is? Esp if you're a roman government official like this jailor was.

So he believes and that night his whole family is baptized. Huge shift of loyalty happening.


Acts 17 Jason hides Paul & Silas

Acts 17 - you read about a man named 'Jason' who was a Christian convert who's claim to fame is that he hid Paul and Silas in his house when the government was looking for them.

They rushed to Jason’s house in search of Paul and Silas in order to bring them out to the crowd. (Acts 17:5)

But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some other believers before the city officials, shouting: “These men who have caused trouble all over the world have now come here, (Acts 17:6)

and Jason has welcomed them into his house. They are all defying Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is another king, one called Jesus.” (Acts 17:7)


15 years pass - Pauls about 65 years old.

Arrested (for the 2nd time).

  • 1st time he was released.
  • This 2nd time he won't be released, he'll be executed.

Paul said "I don't know. I don't even know what to wish for."

"To be with Christ is awesome, but staying here with you, that's good for you. I just don't know." - Should I stay or should I go?

Turns out, it wasn't up to him, he would go, executed. One of the very last writings of Paul, writing to what seems like his favorite church. They were his strongest supporters even when he was in prison. So he writes this letter, he doesn't know he's about to be killed. We do.

In rome, in prison, in chains - writes the happiest letter of his career.

He's so happy, he says that even some of the imperial guards in ceasars house have become believers.

One of the themes: Jesus is Lord.

Part of the gospel in the book of acts is this: Politics of Cesar (power) have been replaced by the politics of Jesus (love).


Jesus is Lord and Cesar is not. - Not that big of a deal. Whoop-dee-do.

More controversial -

Jesus is Lord and nothing else is.

More controversial when you replace 'Cesar' with things in our day.

So whatever it is that's in the world's system that you hold dear, Paul is saying this "Jesus is Lord and that is not."

Peter, Paul, James, John, Andrew, Phillip, Nathan, Thomas, Simon, Luke, Stephen, Mark, - "Our allegiance is to Christ, and Christ alone."

So when Paul was saying "Jesus is Lord and Cesar and Rome is not." - He didn't just get mean replies on facebook, he gets arrested and executed for it. - By the Roman empire.

If you are a Christian… Your allegiance is first to Jesus.


But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, (Phillipains 3:20)

We live here - BUT - Citizens - kingdom of God.

We live here, but we're citizens of the kingdom of God.

"Citizenship is in heaven" - doesn't mean the earth isn't our home.

Colonize earth with the culture of heaven.


Here's how Colonization works.

British Empire - 18th & 19th century

They went all around the world, colonizing.

They would say "The sun never set upon this British empire." - Cuz they were in all time the time zones.

One of their prized possessions : India.

They went there and set up colonies.

People would travel from England to India.

And when they got there, did they live as indians or as english? English of course!

So picture them in india in and english colony, what do you think they do at 4pm? YOU HAVE TEA! B/C your english!

Doesn't matter that you live in india. You're a citizen of England.

Bringing the culture of england to India.


So Philippian church understands this - B/C they are in Philippi which is a 'Roman Colony.'

They're in greece - not in Rome - but it's part of the roman empire.

Paul "Your TRUE citizenship - heaven - bringing THAT culture.

"You - live w/ Christ - your King."

Jesus's current project is to colonize earth with the culture of heaven. This idea - is what the Bible calls 'The Kingdom of God'.


Your Earthly Citizenship

So depending on where you were born, and your journey, you will have an earthly citizenship. Probably most of you have an american citizenship. Some maybe Brazzilian, columbian, etheopian, whatever.

But if - follower - Christ - And if you've been baptized, and that meant anything to you. - Pledged allegiance - him 1st.

But if you're a follower of Christ - you've pledged you allegiance to him before anyone else.

Paul was a roman citizen - born in Tarsus

But his ultimate allegiance is to the Kingdom of God. - "Jesus is Lord and Cesar is not."


Kingdom of God - completely unique.

The Kingdom of God - completely unique and different from any Kingdoms of the world.

You need both, but they're completely different. And you allegiance is the God's kingdom.

The Beatitudes - "Blessed are the poor in spirit, the meek, the merciful, the pure of heart, the peacemakers, the persecuted. In fact, just look at the beatitudes and ask yourself "What earthly kingdom does this look like?

Kingdom of the World: Operates w/the sword

Power Over.

Power to enforce with threats. Power to inflict pain if you disobey.

Kingdom of God: Operates w/the cross

Power under.

Power of imitating Jesus not Cesar. Power to win peoples hearts through self sacrificial acts of love.

Power Over kingdom - lead by - Satan

God uses kingdom world preserve law and order - romans 13, 2 peter 2.

But makes it clear - Satan is lord of earthly kingdoms

Luke 4 - temptation - Satan: all kingdoms of this world have been given to him and he can give power to do whatever he wants. Offers them to jesus. Jesus doesn’t dispute, but refuses offer.

Revelation 11 - All earthly kingdoms are under one kingdom ruled by Satan and will eventually by overthrown by the Kingdom of God.

We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. (1 John 5:19)

Christians throughout years - healthy suspicion of kingdoms, groups of this world.


Kingdom of the world: Leading you to protect yourself

Your rights, your safety, your money, your power.

Political parties, unions, representatives,

Kingdom of god: Leading you to crucify yourself

Philippians 2

Esteem the needs and the interests of others OVER your own.

"How can I serve you?" ”Sacrifice for you?"


Kingdom of the World: Law

Power - Forcing correct behavior

Kingdom of God: Love

Love - influences people -- change

We are to imitate Jesus when he dies on the cross to win our hearts. He shows us how much he loves us and that has the power to change us from who we are to who he wants us to be. We win hearts by self-sacrificial acts of love.

The sad reality is that grace makes us a traiter to both parties.


Kingdom of the world: Interested in Behavior

Conformity

Doesn’t care/can’t care about motives or inner state of being. it’s a law. you conform or receive pain.

Kingdom of god: Interested in Transformation

Changing inner heart of a person. How they see themselves. Their desires. Their longings. And only self sacrificial love can change that.


Kingdom of the World: Always Tribal

Always national. Built into our flesh.

“What’s in it for me?” -- “What’s in it for us?”

Us against them.

My way is the best way - my team - best team. my family, my church. we will kill for it.

Kingdom of god: Always Universal

Jesus died for every human being

Every human being - absolute worth, infinite worth.


Kingdom of the World: Demonizing your enemies to rally power against them.

Kingdom of God: Not allowed to have human enemies.

The ones who ‘seem’ like enemies, commanded to love them. Serve them. Lay down our life for them. Pray that God would bless them.


Kingdom of the World: Conflict

Kingdom of God: Reconciliation

Yes we struggle w/people, but not about ‘winning’ it’s about understanding and finding common ground.


Kingdom of the World: Crime

Disobedience

Kingdom of God: Sin

What separates us from god. What harms us & others.

Things can be sin but not a crime and things can be a crime but not a sin.

Jim crow laws - Racial segregation in 50’s : Crime not sin.

Righteous act.

Lust, greed, gluttony are sins but they’re not crimes.

Kingdom of World: Asks our opinion of how it should work. What should be a crime? Incredible, thank God for it.

But we put our trust in God. Not them.


Sum Up

  1. Your allegiance is to Jesus.
  2. You are a citizen of the Kingdom of God
  3. In whatever earthly nation you live, you are a foreigner.

Keep soul healthy :

we put our TRUST in Jesus.

You can see this lie - propagated over all Kingdoms of the world - "We'll make you safe. And peaceful, and prosperous."

Every once in awhile, something horrible happens that shakes us to our core.

  • Sep 11th / Financial crisis of 2007 & 08
  • Losing a loved one / Sickness comes

Reminds us that all these things that are supposedly bringing us peace, salvation, and prosperity, are not as secure as we thought they were.

And as difficult and painful as those situations are, I'm convinced we need to be awakened to that reality.

We need to see that the things the Kingdoms of the world promise to us, are not real.

There is no peace, there is no "salvation" and true prosperity apart from Jesus.

Uniquely good news - Jesus - Only thing change.

We have to believe that there's this uniquely good news that comes from Jesus, and that's the only thing that really has the power to change peoples lives. - That's the only thing that has the power to permanently change the world.

And that the way that he tells us to live is the only chance we have.

We live in a society convinced that if we only elect the right people, and avoid the wrong ones, that somehow we find this utopia.

  • There is no hope outside of Jesus.
  • There is no lasting peace outside of Jesus.

World desperately needs:

Alternative community.

I believe what the world desperately needs is an alternative community that looks completely different than any of caesars communities.

  • A community that's not governed by whoever has the most money, or success, or popularity or whatever.
  • Here is a community where people have genuine compassion for people they don't understand.
  • We're governed by the law of love.
  • A community that exalts the humble. Honors the servant.
  • A community where the last are first and the first are last.

The only place in the world people can go to experience a Kingdom that's not dominated by Caesar.


As prepare - communion

There's all sorts of small practices that, for us, demonstrate our allegiance to Jesus and His Kingdom, and one of those is communion.

We want to be people that by our very lives demonstrate that we're following a different kind of King.

So as we pass - I just think there's these small moments that if we let him, God can come in and really change our priorities and how we see.

Spend a minute - Asking yourself - In what ways have a put my trust in something other than Jesus?

(Pass)


You can gain the world and lose your soul.

And if you're living in a way that you're so caught up in the Kingdom of the world, that your soul is becoming unhealthy - it's time to rethink your life.

Jesus is calling us to a simple trust in Him. And a simple allegiance to him.

No matter what horrible decisions the world makes regarding it's own kingdom, we're ok. We're not stressed. B/C we don't put our trust in the things of this world.