Winsomely Weird Wednesdays

“Politics”

November 20, 2019

Welcome & Dismiss Kids to Kids Club

Songs – #111 “All Hail the Power” & #1 “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”

Testimonies – What’s some way that you have been engaged with the city (polis) lately?

Teaching

Recap & Intro

What’s one way Christians should be winsomely weird when it comes to:

· Authority & Purpose?

· Speech?

· Relationships & Conflict?

· Drugs & Alcohol?

· Bioethics?

· Entertainment?

· Work, Money, & Possessions?

· Fitness?

Tonight the topic is politics. Has anyone been listening/watching some of the impeachment proceedings going on? We’re a politically charged and divided culture. Christians have a great opportunity to be winsomely weird in our partisan climate.

Allegiance to the Kingdom of God

How do we do it? First off, by having our allegiance be ultimately to the kingdom of God and not any of the kingdoms of this world. Philippians 3:20-21 – “Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.” “Jesus is Lord” is a politically subversive statement, because in the first century Romans said, “Caesar is Lord.” To be a Christian is to acknowledge that Jesus is the Lord of lords and King of kings and to find your primary identity as a citizen of the kingdom of heaven.

All other kingdoms are fallen and fall. This week my Bible reading plan has me in Daniel. Special points if anyone can tell me the vision that God gave to King Nebuchadnezzar and it’s interpretation… Statue with head of gold (Babylon), chest and arms of silver (Persia), middle and thighs of bronze (Greece), legs of iron with clay mixed into feet (Rome). And then a little pebble rolls up to the feet and crashes it all down, and that stone (the Kingdom of God) grows into a great mountain that fills the whole earth. What’s the point? In the middle of the Roman Empire, Jesus established his kingdom, it’s like a mustard seed but as all the kingdoms of this earth rise and crumble, Jesus’ kingdom keeps growing and growing and one day when he returns the great Hallelujah Chorus will resound – “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever” (Rev. 11:15).

All the kingdoms of this earth are limited in power and geography and contain within them the seeds of their own destruction. Rome fell, the Ottoman Empire fell, the sun is setting on the British Empire. America outlasted Russia (or did we?), but this superpower will weaken. Jesus’ kingdom is forever and is perfect! He’s the only unimpeachable king. He alone tells the truth. He has exactly the right position on everything because he’s the definition of righteousness. He’s trustworthy. He’s loving and beneficent. How else is King Jesus awesome and better than any other political savior??

How do we participate in this Kingdom of God now even before the Return of the King? Jesus gave the keys of the kingdom to the church (Mt. 16:19, 18:18). Church – this right here – is the most important poltical entity that we belong to. It’s where we find our deepest sense of belonging, our noblest cause to work for, our greatest joys… Jesus and his eternal purposes have captured our hearts and to him we pledge allegiance.

Which makes us weird. It means we won’t feel really at home in any of this earth’s political entities. Peter calls Christians sojourners and exiles (1Pe. 1:1, 17; 2:11). We’re living outside our fatherland, even if we’re living in the country of our birth, because heaven (shorthand for the renewed creation under King Jesus) is what we’re homesick for. We live like the saints of old, acknowledging that we are “strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If [we are simply talking about the land we moved from, we can return]. But as it is, [we] desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called [our] God, for he has prepared for [us] a city[, the New Jerusalem]” (Heb. 11:13-16; Rev. 21:2ff).

When I was in high school I had a Bob Dole bumper sticker on my bedroom door. I went to Washington, D.C., several times for things like National Young Leaders conferences, including President Clinton’s Second Inauguration. In one of my high school classes we were supposed to bring a song to have played that defined who you were. I brought the Star Spangled Banner.

I was a born again believer but had, unwittingly, bought into a brand of civil religion that conflated Christianity with Country. Thankfully, as I have gotten to know Christ better and grown as his disciple I’ve learned to disentangle the two. For example, in the church I grew up in (and almost all the ones I knew) there was an American Flag (and a Christian Flag[?!]) at the front. There was a Patriotic section in our hymnal and we sang from it around Fourth of July. I think that’s atrocious and we would never do that here. We gather to sing about and pledge allegiance to Jesus and his empire.

Life in the Kingdoms of this World

In college I was a Bible major and Political Science minor. Is there any benefit to studying those things? Is there any obligation to participate in the broken, compromised, political systems of this world? Can we love our country? Is there a good patriotism?

Yes. When you watch Captain Von Trapp sing “Edelweiss” there is something touching and honorable about that. You want to choke up too, don’t you? God is my Father, the church is my mother, you are my brothers and sisters. But I can still love the smell of my grandparents’ house and my mom’s cooking and respect my dad and enjoy my family’s cultural traditions and feel a sense of fealty to them and it can be okay. Jesus’ statement that his follower must “hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters” (Lk. 14:26) is about relative affections, right? In comparison, my love for Christ makes my connection to my blood family look like hate and they can never get in the way of following Jesus. But Jesus also took care of his mom at the cross (Jn. 19:26-27) and Paul said “if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1Tim. 5:8). Similarly, we can be aligned with the kingdom of God and still thankful for and appreciate the blessings of our country and root for it in the Olympics.

John the Baptist (Lk. 3:14) and Jesus (Lk. 7:1ff) didn’t tell Roman soldiers that they had to stop wearing that uniform if they wanted to be part of God’s kingdom.

Paul in places like Romans 13 and Titus 3 and Peter in 1 Peter 2:13-17 said that secular (or more specifically, pagan) governments were instituted by God and used by him for certain evil-restraining functions, keeping the world in order while the gospel spread like a virus in and throughout them. Can someone actually read 1 Peter 2:13-17?? So we can honor political leaders, respect them, submit to them in submission to the Lord (and disobey them when they go against the Lord, i.e. Acts 5:29).

So what we’re seeing is that we’re weird because we’re not of this world and our ultimate loyalty and longings lie elsewhere. But we’re also winsome because we remain in this world. We are still citizens of the lesser, temporal governments and we should be the best citizens of these Cities of Man that we can. Any verses that you can think of that back that up?

State and National Politics

So how can we do that here in the U.S. where we have a form of democracy that invites political engagement? We vote for candidates based on values and our best understanding of policies that apply those values. We are getting our values from God and so here’s my main point that I want us to walk away from tonight with: the source of our political thinking is informed not by the right nor by the left, but from above. And that will make us winsomely weird!

Our convictions about what is best for people and society won’t line up easily with one party or match an ideology. We will bust those categories and confound the world. The world desperately wants to reduce ‘evangelicals’ to a voting bloc. We should defy those categories!

Some of you were at the City to City North America Conference here in Chicago last fall with me when Tim Keller walked through the revolutionary values of the early church that made them winsomely weird. First, he showed how they were multi-ethnic, breaking down racial barriers. Then he talked about their radical commitment to serve the poor. Then he showed how the early Christians championed an ethic of non-retaliation. Then he talked about how they were pro-life – rescuing babies from the garbage dumps and caring for the weak and infirm. And finally he explained the sexual counterculture that the early church had – sex only within loving monogamous, heterosexual covenant marriages. These 5 things made the church stand out then and caught the world’s attention with their winsomeness.

And then he commented that today the first two: racial justice and concern for the poor seem to be the domain of the political left. The last two: pro-life and holy sexuality seem to go with the right. And nobody’s really talking about the 3rd one, love of enemies. What if the Church in America today, what if we embraced and embodied all five. That would be really weird, but I also think winsome.

We’re still going to have disagreements on the best policies for helping the poor and things like that, but if we could talk charitably and humbly we might be able to arrive at more of a consensus and where we still can’s as long as it’s not compromising a clear value, we can agree to disagree about implementation.

This will mean losing a lot of power, but that’s okay.

This politics from above will also mean we never feel excited about anyone we vote for.

Global Politics

But since the Church is trans-national we should also be interested in global politics: International Justice Mission, what’s going on in Hong Kong, religious freedom in India…

Local Politics

But we can become too inundated with information about what’s happening in the Hague or a hearing room on the Hill, or even Springfield, and miss the people we have moral proximity to. I saw this some with Ferguson. The race issue blew up on the national scene and we had people in our church getting rightly upset about this, but at the time we had some evangelism efforts and a Bible Study going on in the Brooks Homes and a Mercy Team forming and nobody wanted to be part of that. Racial injustice issues are right on our doorstep, but it’s easier to re-post Facebook articles about places far away than it is to actually get involved right in your backyard.

I want to encourage us to focus more on local politics. Do you know the gatekeepers on your block? Who makes our neighborhood run? Have you ever considered running for your Local School Council? Or how about showing up at your HOA meetings and taking an interest there? They aren’t usually debating Gun Control or Entitlement Programs. It’s smaller, more immediate issues. And as a Christian you can show that you are concerned as a neighbor and then when they find out that you’re loving your neighborhood not to earn your salvation, but because you’ve been shown grace and that you live out all five of those values, you will shock many people and they will find you intriguing…

What’s Next?

Next week there’s no Midweek Meeting because of Thanksgiving. On December 4th we’ll talk about Gender, Sexuality, & Family. And then on 12/11 we’ll be having a Christmas Party.

Prayer – Break up into groups to pray based on what Ward you live in: (1) 28th Ward (Alderman Ervin) (2) 25th Ward (Alderman Sigcho-Lopez) (3) 27th (Alderman Burnett) and 42nd (Alderman Reilly) Wards (4) 11th (Alderman Thompson) or another Ward

https://www.chicago.gov/city/en/depts/mayor/iframe/lookup_ward_and_alderman.html

Pray for your alderman and a need in your ward (1Tim. 2:1-4)…

Pray that God would guide the presidential primaries and give us good options and for an elevation in civil discourse…

Pray for Hong Kong…

Pray that our hearts and minds would be captured even more by the eternal glories of God’s Kingdom and pray for it to come soon…

Pray that we would reflect the Kingdom of God’s winsomely weird values around the Thanksgiving table next week…