Why can’t there be six Sundays in January? I have so many Sermonettes that I wish I could have shared with you all from Romans. (I’ve got to say that Sunday is my favorite day for posting.) I really couldn’t decide which of these last two Sermonettes to go with so I determined to go with them both. So sit back and enjoy this special edition of Sunday’s Sermonette (with a Bonus). Just be aware that it’s only long because there two of them.
Who’s Really Behind the Scenes?
“…for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.” Romans 13:4 esv
Micah already gave a very thorough explanation of how the government is established to exercise judgment on the wicked in his post on Thursday (Check it out), but before I read his article I was already planning on following up on last weeks Sermonette from Romans 13 on politics. One thing that is undeniably important for Christians to understand in the political process is that ultimately God is in charge.
Because we like to use phrases like “What would Jesus do?” (Even though I despise the phrase), I would like to ask this question, “Who would Jesus vote for?” This would be my answer, “Wait till after the election and you’ll find out.” Joking aside, I think it’s obvious that I have a very high view of the sovereignty of God, and I think that this passage clarifies a very important topic that many Christians are uncomfortable with. God is the One behind the scenes of the political process. This shouldn’t be used to blame God for all the political misdeeds and the corrupt decisions that are made by career politicians, but instead should signify the exact
punishment treatment that we deserve.
A Few Truths.
America is not Israel. Nowhere in New Testament is there any definitive suggestion that God is currently working through nations to fulfill His Kingdom. America is no more a Christian nation than the Pope was a direct descendant from the Apostle Peter. We have to stop looking at the government as the source for moral reform. We don’t need the federal government to give the Church permission to teach what the Bible says.
Nothing God does can be deemed as evil, even if we can’t understand the good. It may be hard for Christians to imagine that God would have placed the very judges into position that voted through Roe vs. Wade, or that God allowed a liberal government to threaten the rights and liberties of Christians and the church, but that is the reality.
When God speaks, we should listen. And God is speaking by the officials He is placing into office. God places the exact leaders in government that we as a nation deserve. God is not in the business of making life pleasant for everyone. God didn’t fail in 54ad Rome, 1939 Germany, or 2008 America. God has the exact politicians in place to exercise His exact will. It doesn’t seem that the “One Nation Under God” country has been on God’s good list.
Deep Christians thrive under an uncivil government. Just because there is a blood thirsty tyrant in the throne doesn’t mean that God has neglected His people, the Church. Sometimes I wonder if the Church wouldn’t be better off in the future of where America is headed. It seems that the more freedoms they have, the more lazy Christians become. Remember that old adage, “The darker the night, the brighter the light.”? The only guarantee that God had for Christians in this age is that they would be hated and persecuted. It seems to me that many Christians are trying to create an environment where they can be free from persecution and it doesn’t surprise me that God is positioning leaders that would frustrate the religious.
It’s about time we started to get the hint that maybe we can’t have sold out dedication to the great commission and favorability with government. I believe satan would have us focus more on the futile attempts to create a moral government to distract us from fulfilling what God has left us here to do. Furthermore, we would be far more effective with our culture if we would focus on being the hands, feet, mouth, heart, and mind of Christ (i.e. the Church) instead of getting caught up in creating laws that morally depraved individuals cannot keep.
(This is not to suggest that Christians have to moral responsibility to be actively involved in government, hence the second sermonette. Just keep reading and don’t take my words out of context.)
Wait a Second, Who’s Right?
“…Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind… So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.” Romans 14:5,12 esv
Someone asked me recently if we as Christians should just stay out of politics because of how screwed up it has become. The problem with this is that shirking our responsibility is not a demonstration of becoming fully convinced of something. It sort of simbolizes a pouting child who says, “If you’re not going to play by the rules then I’m not going to play with you anymore!” whenever the other kids decide they’re done playing Bible charades.
In Romans 14, Paul is dealing with maturity. Maturity is characterized, in one way, by the ability to abstract a complex idea. Paul talks about ‘doubtful things’ that the early Church was fighting over: holy days, unclean food, traditions, etc. What is insteresting about Paul’s answer is that he doesn’t actually give a definitive answer; he gives a general rule. He says that everyone is responsible to abstract principles on their own. But they ought to be careful because they will one day be judged for their actions based on the perfect standard of God Himself.
This doesn’t mean that there isn’t an absolute standard. It just means that we don’t know the definitive answer. God has not revealed everything to us, and instead of Paul re-writing leviticus for the New Testament Church (thank goodness), he emphasizes seeking God over simply obeying His commands. This is a lot harder to do because it means that we have to accept responsibility, exercise discernment, and study to show ourselves approved. But the end result is more passion. The Old Testament Law was a strict structure meant to show the need for dependance on God, but was manipulated to emphasize man’s effort. New Testament Grace is a very lenient system meant to exact a right response of worship to God, but it has been used to justify sin.
While Paul is primarily concerned with the individual’s responsibility to abstract ideas, he is also concerned with the conclusions they draw. Being fully convinced does not exclude someone from being wrongly convinced. That is why Paul’s warning is not to say, “But be sure that you’re right.” It’s, “You’re going to be held accountable for what you become convinced of.” This should evoke a righteous fear, not an arrogant attitude. Too many people are touting around with their puffed up opinions about their lofty convictions. God’s not impressed! Even if you end up being right, you look like a pompos idiot in the process. So pop your ego and deflate your big head. Your well thought out argument is not a definitive scale to measure your stature in the church. The measure for maturity isn’t the conclusions you draw (Mature people will disagree on a multiplicity of issues). Maturity is measured by your ability to abstract a fully convincing argument from a complex issue.
So, don’t be a fool. Don’t be immature. Don’t tout your position as if it sets you head and shoulders above the crowd (get your head out of the clouds). Work on your maturity, focus on yourself and not others, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, seek the LORD with reverence, and respect the variety of opinions that others will come to, knowing that you don’t answer to each other on the non-essentials, but you will answer to God on every issue (whether you’ve thought about it or not).