Jump Start # 2219
Acts 5:29 “But Peter and the apostles answered and said, “We must obey God rather than men.”
It’s election day in our land. I thought it would be appropriate to remind us of some simple truths.
First, we are Christians above being Americans. This means, if it’s legal, it doesn’t mean it’s good, right nor pleasing to God. With the obsession with politics and whether one leans right or left, we must never forget that there is an up and a down. Before there was this country, there was God. If this country ever folds, there will still be God. The turning of this country will never come about from the courthouse, state house, or white house. You can’t force people to be moral, decent and godly. It must come from within our hearts as we are taught the Gospel message.
Second, as we read our Bibles, we must remember the culture that the word of God was presented in. It’s easy to read passages with American eyes, but in so doing, we may often miss the true meaning of a passage. Likewise, when we evangelize foreign lands, our mission is to make them Christians, not Americans first, and then Christians. Every land and every culture has it’s own unique ways and cultures change, but the meaning of God’s word never does. God’s word transcends every culture and every generation.
Third, our privilege of voting is something unknown to the first century world and in many places today. Those early Christians didn’t get a choice about who their ruler was going to be. This is a freedom, right and honor that we have. We need to pray, consider what the candidates stand for and vote for people that support the values that we believe in. That’s not always clear nor easy to do. Sometimes it’s a matter of neither one is very good, but which one would be worse.
Fourth, there is a thin line that separates church and state. Our government allows us to worship as we believe. State run religions is what fed the Roman persecutions and sparked the reformation movement. We appreciate not having to follow what outsiders tell us to do. But the other side of the coin is also a thin line. We must keep politics out of the pulpit. It’s one thing to remind folks of values and principles, as this Jump Start is doing, but to tell you who to vote for is dangerously close if not crossing that thin line that separates church and state. If we have no problem telling the church who to vote for, then we realize that the state can tell us as a church what to preach and what to practice.
Fifth, the current nature of politics is mean and nasty. Wicked things are said. People are accused of all kinds of things from racism, to hatred simply because they vote one way or the other. My mail box has been stuffed with political flyers and the commercials on TV are one candidate after another trashing each other. All of this leaves a sour tastes in our mouths. It drives wedges between those who disagree. There has been violent outbursts throughout the country. Tomorrow the election will be over. Some will rejoice and others will be in a bad mood. Can we make up as a country and get along, or are we destined to further hate each other? As Christians, we must not get caught up in name calling, false accusations, and ugliness. Ballgames, elections and other occasions do not give us a pass upon how we are to treat others. The golden rule remains even during election season. Kindness, gentleness, tender-hearted, doing good to all people, are the core components of who we are. So, be careful what you post on Facebook and Twitter. Be careful what you “like.” Some things are best left unsaid. Do not forget who you are and your light must shine, even during elections.
Sixth, some seem to get more excited about politics than they do their faith. That seems backwards. Politics come and go. The history of politics, both American and worldwide, has found corruption sprinkled all through it. If my candidate wins, great. Most of us will go on with our lives and little thought is given to this until the next election cycle. But our faith and the spread of the Gospel is something that ought to be at the forefront of our conversations. More importantly than how the country is doing, how are the congregations doing? Is the Word of God spreading throughout the land? That’s where our prayers ought to be focused and that is where our real interests should be. We must remember, God does not have a pickup in Heaven and there is no American Flag on that pickup. There may be an American Flag on the moon, but not in Heaven. God is not an American. God is the Almighty. If there is any flag in Heaven, it would be the banner of Christ. Revelation 7 reminds us of that great crowd around the throne. There were people from every nation and every language, not just Americans.
Seventh, as hard as it is to believe this, the strongest congregations may not be in this country. In fact, the time may come, when preachers from other countries come here to evangelize. American pride can stand in the way of true faith and honest assessment of what needs to be done in this land. We have many congregations in this land, but we also have many that do not have elders and many that seem to be more interested in a beautiful building than in building hearts for Christ. Things are a mess in this country spiritually. More and more citizens are secular and have zero interest in the Gospel. We are seeing a whole generation grow up without any religious background. People simply do not know God and the spirit of tolerance and happiness is what drives them to continue to make poor decisions about their souls.
Eighth, when we read the N.T. obligations to the government, being subject to the government, praying for your governor, rendering to Caesar the things that belong to Caesar, we must remember that this was the system that crucified Christ, and tried to crush the early church. Wicked as that government was, the Christians still had moral obligations to obey and pray. The only exception was when faith and the government clashed. Faith always comes first. This is why in our verse, Peter declares, we must obey God rather than men. This wasn’t an outright call for rebellion. This wasn’t a mutiny. This was not a formation of a new government. This same Peter would later tell us to be subject to the government. We obey. We obey not just the laws that we like, but all laws, unless they conflict with Scriptures. Paying taxes doesn’t do that. Speed limits do not do that. Remembering to pray for our leaders does not do that. If the government states that we cannot read the Bible as it is written because it might offend some, then we part with obedience and follow Scriptures. And, yes, the Bible will offend. It offends sinners. It offends atheists. It offends evolutionists. It offends the free spirits that do not want any one to tell them what to do. It offends homosexuals, fornicators, liars, and cheats. It will offend those who want a divorce for any reason. It will offend those who want to run the church like a democracy. It will offend those who want to change the Bible. It will offend you and me eventually, until we repent of our ways and follow Christ. To say something is wrong because it offends, is not true, Biblical nor healthy. When our mamas made us go to bed at a certain hour and refused to let us eat candy bars for breakfast, that offended us. Our moms were right. Sometimes a person just needs to be offended to do what is right.
Election day. What a blessing. What an honor. We hope these thoughts help.