Religion and Politics

Romans 13.1-7

“Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God and those which exist are established by God.” Religion and politics…maybe they are not so taboo. Our allegiance to God doesn’t mean that we can’t or shouldn’t be good citizens, neither should being a good citizen trump our allegiance to God.

We have a duty to both the state and to God. What Caesar requires of us irrelevant unless it interferes with our duty to God. Paul doesn’t tell us what to do when the two collide…when they are in conflict, but we have a few biblical examples. We already talked about Daniel and the lions’ den (Daniel 6). Another one from the book of Daniel is the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and how they handled Nebuchadnezzar’s command to worship the golden statue (For Veggie Tales fans: Rack, Shack and Benny…and the chocolate bunny) (Daniel 3). When the choice is between obeying God or obeying man, we have to choose to obey God (Acts 5.28-29). If you, as a Christian, are asked to do something that violates the Word of God, you should say “no”, but you should do so respectfully and then be prepared to face the consequences. Just like Daniel and his buddies. And just like Christian martyrs have done throughout the centuries.

Fundamentally the question is: where is our hope? Is our hope in an earthly kingdom, a political system that no matter how good it is is doomed to fail because of sin, or in the unshakeable kingdom that Jesus brings? Are we looking for an earthly king to save us, or are we looking for the King who has already saved us?

And as those who follow Jesus, how do we engage the culture? What does it mean to live and love like Jesus? What’s our responsibility? First and foremost to remember that Jesus is our only Hope and our King. We have to remember who we are and whose we are. So we don’t give up (persecution, etc.), we don’t give in (conform) because we know that Jesus wins. And knowing that…We as followers of Jesus are called to submit to the governing authorities (Romans 13, 1 Peter 2) because we know that God has placed them there. We are to be markedly law-abiding, even down to the traffic laws and paying taxes. To be good citizens.

And we are to pray…PRAY, PRAY, PRAY…prayer is our greatest weapon in spiritual warfare. Make no mistake…as Paul says, our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the powers, against the rulers, against the spiritual forces in heavenly places…do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Pray first. Ask God for wisdom. And then follow His lead. Let Him fight for you. Let Him make a way where there may not seem to be one. He can…He will…but even if He doesn’t, He’s still God. And remember what Paul said to Timothy, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, for prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (1 Timothy 2.1-2).

We might also need to confess our pride and our sinful attitudes…conversations, statements and responses that have reflected more fear than faith, more of my kingdom than God’s kingdom.

We now have a new president…Joe Biden…for whom we are called to pray and be in subjection to his authority. May not be easy to do, especially if he wasn’t your candidate. But we have to trust it’s God’s good and acceptable and perfect will. He’s still in control. Just as He was when Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego stepped into a fiery furnace. Just as He was when Daniel was lowered into a lions’ den. Just as He was when Jesus was nailed to a cross.

pro rege,

This post is based on a sermon from our Romans series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster

This Is Living for God

1 Peter 5

It’s not lost on me that a sermon series called This Is Living with a strong emphasis on suffering and submission to authority may seem a bit ironic. Definitely not what the world would define as living. But maybe that’s the point.

The world defines living as more…more money, more stuff, more followers, more fame, more, more, more. The more I have, the more I matter. And the more I matter, the more you have to listen/follow/acknowledge/do what I say. Living is about me and the kingdom I’m building right now. No matter how temporary. No matter the consequence. Suffering? Yeah, that’s a part of life…but something to be avoided at all costs. I do what I want, when I want, how I want, with whomever I want. Independent thinking and challenging authority are all part of the gig. “There is a way that seems right to a man, but it’s end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14.12).

Jesus told this parable in Luke 12, “The land of a rich man was very productive. 17And he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’ 18Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.”’ 20But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ 21So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12.16-21).

Living according to this world’s standards only brings dissatisfaction, jealousy, anger, bitterness, greed, pride…and the list goes on and on. It fails to provide true purpose and meaning…anything that is lasting. The best you get are brief glimpses, distorted images, broken promises of life. And when this fleeting life is over…an eternity of regret.

True living is pursuing Jesus no matter what. We have been purchased for a price…His own shed blood. Redeemed from sin and death to be a people. To be His people. To proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. True living is found in trusting the One who created and called and saved us. Believing not only that He loves us, but that He is also working for our good. Our hope is not in the authorities God has placed over us. Our trust is not in them. It’s in our great God. If He is for us, who can stand against us?

When we trust God fully, we can submit humbly to those in authority over us. When we trust God fully, we can do the right thing even when it results in suffering. When we trust God fully, we need not fear the enemy. We can stand firm knowing that we have a living hope, an eternal inheritance and an indestructible life.

So let us trust God, pursue peace and do the right thing, no matter what. Let us proclaim His excellencies through lives well lived and by telling our stories to a world desperate for hope.

pro rege

This post is based on a sermon from our This Is Living series in 1 Peter. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: @ccclancaster

Transforming Marriages Part 2

Ephesians 5.22-33

The Bible begins and ends with a wedding…Jesus’ first miracle is at a wedding in Cana of Galilee. God takes marriage seriously. So should we.

Our culture would have us believe that the goal of marriage is happily ever after. If your spouse isn’t doing that for you, then by all means, find someone who will. If the frog doesn’t turn into a prince, try another frog. If the princess stops looking like a princess, then find someone else who does. It’s about my needs and what I want. Self is king. No marriage can survive that…Christian or otherwise.

Marriages are in crisis. That’s not just out there, but right here within the body as well. There seems to be an epidemic of folks who should know better, who are making decisions that are destroying their families. Guys, you can not be complacent in your marriage…you can’t be passive. And you also can’t treat your wife like she’s your slave. God will hold you accountable for your marriage. It’s your responsibility to lead. Find out what’s causing tension in your relationship and do what you need to to fix it. Stop acting like a victim, and be a man. Be careful little eyes what you see…as guys we are captivated or captured by what our eyes see. Get a handle on it. It starts with your relationship with Jesus. Be an example to your wife of one who is pursuing a vibrant faith.

Gals, cultivate your marriage. Pay attention to your husband. Look at your own heart and not just at what’s wrong with him. Don’t try to change him…trust God to make the changes He needs to. Be prayerful, and lean into the Lord when your husband disappoints you. Treat him the way you hope your future daughter-in-law will someday treat your own son. Be careful little mouth what you say…no matter how big and strong you may think your husband is, your words hurt him. When you belittle him and criticize him, you destroy him. Use your words to build him up and encourage him, to strengthen him and respect him. Choose obedience and living in God’s will over anything else, even if that means your marriage isn’t necessarily “happily ever after”.

Divorce may seem like the only option, but the relief it gives is only temporary. In the long run it takes its toll because ultimately God designed marriage to be a covenant that lasts forever. Obedience to God despite the circumstances, part of what Peter calls, “suffering for the sake of righteousness” (1 Peter 3.14) actually leads to blessing. Why? Because doing the right thing because it’s the right thing to do, not because I feel like it or the other person deserves it…is a picture of what Jesus did for us. When I say “yes” to who God calls me to be as a husband, then I have to trust Him even if my wife is saying “no”.

But what if my spouse has been unfaithful? Infidelity in a marriage is a big deal. It violates the covenant that the husband and wife make before God… “forsaking all others, to cling only to them…” It corrupts the “oneness” that a husband and his wife are called to. And while there may be allowance for divorce in the case of unfaithfulness, the greater and higher call is to forgiveness and reconciliation. I believe that God wants to restore broken marriages…but both must be willing to walk that long and difficult road together. That begins with repentance and a real brokenness over our sinfulness and selfishness. It might mean getting help…seeing a counselor or going to a program like Celebrate Recovery.

If you have already experienced the devastating effects of divorce, don’t lose heart. God’s faithfulness never changes. Pursue your relationship with Him and make Him your first priority. He can and will use you to impact the kingdom in significant ways just has He has countless others who have experienced the painful realities of life this side of the garden.

The only hope we have for a successful marriage is Jesus…only He can transform us through the Spirit to live and love like Him. Only He can give us an eternal perspective on life and a compelling reason to invest everything in the kingdom. It’s only when I’m pursuing Him in earnest, that I will even have the desire to love my wife well. It’s only when she is pursuing Him the same way that she will have the desire to submit to me. If each of us is committed to being a godly spouse, we will have a godly marriage. Doesn’t mean we won’t have challenges…that’s part of life outside the garden, but it means that we are committed to seeing it through until death do us part.

Husbands, is your wife more like Jesus because of you? Wives, is your husband, more like Jesus because of you?

Until next time…stay salty.

This post is based on a sermon from our series: Transforming Marriages. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: @ccclancaster