Monday, November 03, 2008

Sermon: God is a Politician

The following message was preached to my congregation on Sunday, November 2, election weekend.

Tuesday is Election Day. Through your vote, our great nation will elect a new President.

The pundits are saying, “This is the most important election ever.” Seems like they say that every four years!

But this is a critical election. We have before us two candidates who are offering us a vision of how they will pursue tax policies, domestic issues, the Courts, and war on terror—and those two visions are in stark contrast.

And so today, this pulpit will get political.

This year, a survey conducted by the Pew Forum suggests that maybe I shouldn’t use the pulpit for politics. Of those who consider themselves political moderates or liberals, 52% of them say the church should stay out of politics. And those who consider themselves political conservatives, 51% agree, the church should stay out of politics.

But today I’d like to offer one reason why the church should engage in politics and then three ways you—a follower of Jesus—should engage in politics.

Why should the church—that is, God’s people—engage in politics? Because God is a politician.

Yes, God is a politician.

When we think of politics, we usually think something negative. Politicians are crafty. They put themselves first. They devise schemes for their own self-advancement. Often, that is true. But the problem isn’t the office itself. The problem is the kind of person who holds the office. Proverbs 29:2 puts it well: “When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan.”

This week I looked in the dictionary for a definition of a politician. God fits every definition. First, a politician is:

1. A seeker or holder of public office
  • The LORD has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all.” –Psalm 103:19
  • “Dominion belongs to the LORD and he rules over the nations.” – Psalm 22:28
  • “For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.” –Colossians 1:16
  • On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.” –Revelation 19:16
Is God a holder of public office? Absolutely? Does God seek to have you submit your life completely to Him and let Jesus Christ govern your life? Absolutely.

2. An expert in the art or science of government or administration
  • “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders…Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end.” –Isaiah 9:6-7
Is God an expert administrator of government? Absolutely. He will—in the fullness of time—bring peace to the world. Today, He brings peace to the human heart to all who trust Christ as Savior.

3. Someone who engages in politics—that is, tactics for the benefit of his/her party or their own personal advancement

  • “He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them.” –Daniel 2:21
  • “He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.” –Isaiah 40:23
  • “At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” –Philippians 2:10-11
Is God in control of history and the cause-and-effect flow of events in our world? Absolutely. Nothing surprises God. In fact, God is actively shaping history. He is moving history toward a goal and that end is the glory of God and the glory of Jesus Christ.

God is a politician. How then should we—disciples of Jesus Christ—engage in politics?

First, we must vote. I hope you are registered to vote and I hope you will exercise that privilege on Tuesday. God in his providence has given you and me the ability to elect our officials. It is a choice that God has given us and for this reason we should exercise this privilege. Voting is a Christian duty. Michael Gerson of the Washington Post writes:
“The essential humanism of Christianity requires an active, political concern about human dignity and the rights of the poor and weak. But faith says little about the means to achieve those ideals. The justice of welfare reform or tax cuts or moving toward socialized medicine is measured by the outcome of these changes. And those debates cannot be short-circuited by the claim ‘Thus sayeth the Lord,’ spoken by the Christian Coalition or the United Church of Christ.”
So exercise your vote—but pray for God’s direction before you cast your ballot.

Second, we must not cast all our hopes on the political process. If your Presidential candidate wins, don’t get too excited. And if your candidate loses, don’t get too depressed. Chuck Colson, a former adviser to President Nixon, and former Watergate criminal, and later born-again Christian who went on to begin Prison Fellowship, writes these words:
“Many Christians, like most of the populace, believe the political structures can cure all our ills. The fact is, however, that government, by its very nature, is limited in what it can accomplish. What it does best is perpetuate its own power and bolster its own bureaucracies.”
In short, keep politics in perspective.

And finally, never forget, God is control. Slowly, but surely, He is working out His plans. And His plans will come to pass. As Christians, we should yearn for God’s rule, for Jesus has taught us to pray, “Thy kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).
One of my favorite authors—Philip Yancey—illustrates well how God is always in control—and He will work out His plans—not just in politics, but in all things.

He writes:
"In high school, I took pride in my ability to play chess. I joined the chess club, and during lunch hour could be found sitting at a table with other nerds pouring over books with titles like, Classic King Pawn Openings. I studied techniques, won most of my matches, and put the game aside for 20 years. Then, in Chicago, I met a truly fine chess player who had been perfecting his skills long since high school.

When we played a few matches, I learned what it is like to play against a master. Any classic offense I tried, he countered with a classic defense. If I turned to more risky, unorthodox techniques, he incorporated my bold forays into his winning strategies. Although I had complete freedom to make any move I wished, I soon reached the conclusion that none of my strategies mattered very much. His superior skills guaranteed that my purposes inevitably ended up serving his own.

Perhaps God engages our universe, his own creation, in much the same way. He grants us freedom to rebel against his original design, but even as a we do so we end up ironically serving his eventual goal of restoration...

When a Grand Master plays a chess amateur, victory is assured no matter how the board may look at the given moment. In a miracle of grace, even our personal failures can become tools in God's hands."
So go and vote, but be encouraged. God the politician will ultimately win the victory.

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