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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Christians, Politics and Culture - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Christians, Politics and Culture - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Christians, Politics and Culture - Part 2
TOPICS: Politics

It's an honor to be with you today. Now, we've all heard the lie that in polite company you never want to talk about faith or politics. I want to tell you that's bad counsel. If in polite company we don't talk about our faith and what's happening in our culture, we're avoiding the assignment we've been given as Christ followers. We have to take our faith outside the church and engage the culture in which we live. Not always easy, but very important. We're gonna talk about that in some detail today. Grab your Bible and a notepad, but most importantly open your heart to the assignments that God has for you. He's moving, and I want to cooperate with him.

Now, I think one of the challenges of politics, oh, I've gotta hurry, is that it brings a false sense of security to us, that we can imagine that the political system will secure us, that justice will come through the system, that our liberties are guaranteed by the system. I think we've fallen prey to that. I think in many ways we've been coopted by that. I know I have to guard my own thoughts and imagine that things will happen justly and fairly and correctly, because we have some law that's written. I think we've all had an opportunity to look at the fallacy in that in recent years. I mean, I'm pretty certain that the first amendment says that the government shall make no law prohibiting the free exercise of religion, until they did. And we all stood around a little confused and go, "Oh, I didn't know they could do that, but I guess I'll stay home".

Look in Exodus 20. "You shall have no other gods before me". If you don't know, that's the first of the Ten Commandments. And in this particular list, I think priorities matter. The second one is, "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above, or on the earth beneath, or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them, for I the LORD your God, am a jealous God". In the plainest of language, no idols. Don't think of idols just simply as something that's carved out of wood or stone or made of molten metal. An idol is anything that you put in priority above God. You can make an idol out of about anything you can imagine. You can make an idol out of your children. You can make an idol out of your pleasure. You can make an idol out of anything you imagine. You just want, that is more important to you than honoring the Lord, and God said idolatry will not be tolerated.

We've looked at a couple of examples in the passage we've already read. I think it's pretty easy for us in this nation to make idols out of our Founding documents, to imagine that the Constitution or the Bill of Rights secure our future. Baloney. It's a Greek word. It means I disagree. They don't secure our future. We've watched that. They've been put in the shredder in many ways in recent years. It's so easy to put our trust in the systems of this world. We're all guilty of this, folks. None of us escaped this. There's an ebb and a flow. It's not like just an exponential line going, you know, I used to do this, and now I've done away with it.

We're all tempted to think, "If I earn this degree, it'll change my future. If I can get this promotion, it'll make me happy. If I could live in that neighborhood, my life will get better. If I could wear that label in my clothing", or whatever it may be. And so we'll compromise our integrity and waver on our principles in order to try to satisfy whatever it is we're pursuing, that we made an idol out of. We get very self-righteous and indignant when we get into those discussions, but it's not a new thing. It's been a problem for the people of God all the way through the book and all the way through the history of the church. The church is usually much stronger when there's persecution than the church is when we have freedoms.

In Isaiah chapter 31, God makes a statement through the prophet to the leaders of his people. He says, "Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, who rely on horses, who trust in the multitude of their chariots and in the great strength of their horsemen, but they do not look to the Holy One of Israel, or seek help from the LORD". Israel was trusting on political alliances to keep them free from the approaching armies more than they were trusting in the Lord. I just want to ask you a couple of questions. My opinions will be pretty obvious. Do you think it's possible we've elevated government to an unhealthy place? Who is it exactly we imagine secures our future? God entrusted your children to you, to you. That was a very specific divine assignment. We're responsible for our lives and our well-being, not the government. We have willingly yielded our freedoms for handouts. We do it routinely. It's not a new idea.

Remember Jacob and Esau, two brothers? It says, "Jacob I've loved and Esau I hated". And the example of hating Esau wasn't gross sexual immorality. I mean Jacob was a manipulative, conniving, deceptive, he was a twister. But Esau sold his birthright for a meal. And God said, "I hate him". And we have willingly yielded a lot, so we could receive a handout for something, and now we see a government bloated, drunk with power that we've given them, over reach day after day, week after week, defining things that are not their business to define, and the church lacks the courage, or the strength, or the willingness, or something to say, "Excuse me"? Excuse me? Jesus's assignment to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature didn't have an addendum in those places where you're given permission to do so.

Politics brings us to a false sense of security. Christian cowardice has enabled this to happen. We've avoided the conversations or the conflict. We prefer to talk about tolerance and inclusivity and love. Well, I'm an advocate for all of the above, but I will not diminish my allegiance to the Lord. I'm not gonna rearrange my priorities in order to gain approval from some temporary system. I won't do that, with God's help. Look at Psalm 20. "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. They are brought to their knees and fall, but we will rise up and stand firm. O LORD, save the king"!

Give us godly leaders, Lord, in our school boards, in our local communities, in our city councils, in our mayors. In all the places, Father, give us people who fear your name. The principals in our schools and the teachers in our classrooms, the nurses in our hospitals, those people who make such a difference in our lives. Raise up godly people once again. See, I would submit to you that the fundamental issue isn't political parties and politicians. It's the heart of God's people. If our hearts get in the right place, God will move heaven and earth. He doesn't need a 51% majority. He needs the hearts of his people to be fully committed to him. We've been checking the box. Church attendance, pretty often. Sinner's prayer, did that. Baptism, did that. Read my Bible, yeah, I did that years ago, check. Generally moral, okay, check. Don't steal too often, check.

Folks, it's our hearts. I brought you some examples, but they're really just samples. They're categories that you could open and explore far more fully. We could spend multiple sessions talking about descriptions of the hearts of God's people. God talks about us having understanding hearts, not your pomp in the middle of your person, but biblically your heart is the center of your being. Before you understand with your mind, you have an understanding heart. You have discernment, wisdom, insight, or you have the lack of understanding. You see, but you don't understand. Talks about us having hard hearts. Jesus used that expression of his own disciples when they were slow to grasp what he was trying to talk to them about. He was saying, "Are your hearts really that hard"?

One of the things that impairs our ability to grasp spiritual things is to the degree which our hearts have been hardened. You can function with a great deal of heart disease. Physically, that's possible, that's true, until you get to kind of that ultimate tipping point, and then there's really no do-overs. The analogy holds true spiritually. You can function with a great deal of spiritual heart disease, a hardening of your spirit vessels and a lack of efficiency in your spiritual heart until you get to the point that you've missed the opportunity. Those were Jesus's words to his own disciples. Jeremiah talks about us having evil hearts. No interest in life, no interest in truth, that our hearts pursue evil, that the objectives of our lives and our goals, he's talking not to pagan nations. He's talking to the covenant people of God, people who eat kosher meals, and offer sacrifices in the temple, and keep religious holidays.

We mistakenly thought that evil hearts were in people that didn't use the same vocabulary words we do. The condition of our hearts is the primary issue, unbelieving hearts. Talks about unbelieving hearts being evil. We've thought about belief is like it's on a spectrum. You know, well, I don't believe that. I don't, you know, I believe in being born again, but I don't know if I want to believe in the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I certainly don't know if I want to believe in praying for the sick. And mercy, I don't even think I want to entertain the discussion around unclean spirits. I just don't believe that. And as if we're the judge and the jury, with impunity we can set aside the counsel of Scripture and the help of the Holy Spirit. God says it's evil. Don't do that.

I want to introduce maybe a different perspective. I want to suggest to you that in our nation, our nation select leaders varies widely, and I don't think this little metaphor would hold in all, but I think it's true where we are, that elections are an evaluation of our spiritual health as a people. If you ask me to understand the heart condition in our nation, I think a national election is about as good a window into that as I would know how to identify. I want you to imagine similarity when you schedule a visit with the doctor for a physical. When you go to the doctor for a physical, you go for a health evaluation. In the same way, an election is an evaluation of our spiritual health. You go to the doctor for a physical, you ask him to help you evaluate your physical health.

What kind of physical condition am I in? If they're competent, they'll probably do some blood work, run some blood tests. You'll get those reports back. Most of us have been there one time or another. Your cholesterol is too high. Your sugar levels are too high. Your vitamin D is too low. We're gonna have to make some adjustments to your diet. More M&Ms? They'll take a chest x-ray and see if your lungs are clear. They'll evaluate your heart, maybe an EKG. If you're really lucky, maybe a treadmill. Whippey! Want to see how you do under stress. Well, a visit to the doctor for a physical does not make you healthier. The appointment on your calendar, even showing up in your blood work, even doing a stress test, it doesn't make you healthier. It simply provides an awareness so that you can adapt your behavior to improve your physical health.

You're going to have to adjust your diet. You're going to have to exercise a little more. You need to hydrate, do a better job with that perhaps. It can provide awareness of previously unacknowledged problems, but the physical itself doesn't make you healthier. It's just an analysis. It's an evaluation. Well, I want to submit to you that elections don't make us spiritually healthier. So, your emotions around them shouldn't be up or down primarily based upon who's chosen for offices. The emotions around them more have to do with the health report that they represent. So, I say our goal isn't to be political primarily. It's to engage our culture with the truth of God, so that we can get healthier reports. Then we have national referendums on issues, that we chose godliness and righteousness and holiness and life. Elections reveal our strengths and our weaknesses. We know how to pray. We now what to talk about. And we've done the opposite.

We say, "Well, we can't talk about that. That's political". No, no, it's about culture, and how we value children, and how we value freedom, and how we value liberty, and what moral principles are going to hold authority over us. Why does that matter? Because freedom and liberty come from God, and we can't ignore God and disobey God and imagine that we will have greater liberty and freedom. So, don't be filled with despair over the portfolio of candidates. It's no matter where you are on the spectrum. Pray more about what the report was on the spiritual health and condition of our nation. How aware are we? How engaged are we? How committed to truth are we? We'll have another referendum before too long.

So, I want to close by asking you some questions. I'm going to pray. Most of us imagine that the nation would be better if somebody we could think of, and there's a name, or a picture, or something comes to mind, if they would be different, we could be better. Or I can't believe that person has power. And you can fill in the blanks, and it'll be all over the spectrum. But to me, these questions are full more germane. How are you seeking the Lord differently than you were 2 years ago? I think pretty much in the middle of COVID, we all understood we had to find the new course. Churches were locked up. Businesses were shuttered. Schools were closed. There was a deafness in too many places by those providing leadership. We recognize we needed a different course.

So, the question on the table is how today are you seeking the Lord differently than 2 years ago? A follow up, how are you serving the Lord differently than 2 years ago? What's it look like? If you compared the way you served the Lord a couple of years ago compared to today, how is it different? I've been thinking about these for myself. There's some adjustments that have been made. I intend to make some more, but I have made some adjustments. How are you investing in the kingdom of God differently than 2 years ago? How are you engaging people differently than 2 years ago, in the context of your faith?

See, we want change. We want sweeping change, broad change. We want Jesus welcomed in our schools, and our college campuses to be open to the gospel, and doctors praying, and judges praying. And are we changing? Or do we have this idolatrous notion we just choose somebody else, let them bear the brunt, let them go change it? We'd like to keep doing what we're doing, please. It's our hearts that God's calling back. That's the story of this book. The prophets are all talking to the people of God. What are you doing? What are you thinking? Jesus came, he said, to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. You know the Word. He said, "I didn't come for the non-Jewish nations. I came to the house of Israel. They've wandered into the weeds". And I believe the Spirit of God is desperately calling us to awakening and renewal.

How are we doing with that? Don't be filled with despair. Remember the authority of God is supreme over us. The power doesn't rest in DC or some state capital, or some mega gazillionaire that owns some something. The people of God are at the center of the purposes of the Creator of heaven and earth. Let's seek the Lord like we've never sought him before. Let's be determined to yield our hearts to him as we've never done before. If we'll do that, there'll be other elections and other choices. There'll be other referendums on our spiritual health. Everybody here has been to the doctor and got a not so great report. They've called you fluffy. Or you need to exercise more. Or you won't even go to the doctor 'cause you don't want to hear it. I meet people on a regular, they're just afraid to go.

A lot of Christians don't want to hear the truth. Same way we don't want to go to the doctor, we don't them to tell us. Yeah, I know I'm fat. I'm not gonna pay you to tell me. Or even worse, you lie to the doctor. "Tell me what you eat". "Well, I eat mostly sprouts". "Do you exercise"? "Oh, yes, strenuously, uh-huh. That remote is heavy". You lie to a doctor. You lie to God. You lie to yourself. "I'm doing pretty good". Our heart condition. God's moving in the earth, folks. He's purifying a church. I want to be a part. We have a freedom and a liberty to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ in the whole world. We have greater freedom and liberty and resources to do that than we've ever had in the history of the church of Jesus Christ.

I don't know how long we'll have those freedoms. I intend to push everything through that window, as long as we have it. And I know you do, too. What else are you gonna do? Upgrade your clothing label? Won't make you prettier. Ugly is all the way to the bone. I was not talking to you. Oh, can we pray? This is not a time for despair. This is a time for understanding, and courage, and boldness, and faith. God is moving. I think what we watched over this election cycle was pretty representative of what I've been watching in the hearts of God's people, out of a casual interest in the Lord in some new ways, but not overly zealous. We still kind of want to be moderate. I think God is looking for a people who are fully devoted to him. I want to be one of those. Why don't you stand with me?

Lord, thank you. Thank you for your goodness to us. Thank you that you called us out of darkness into the kingdom of your Son. Thank you for the blood of Jesus that has washed us and cleansed us, through which we have been redeemed and justified and sanctified. I thank you that all of Satan's claims have been cancelled over us. And yet, Lord, we struggle. We struggle with those own battles in our minds and our flesh and our wants. And, Lord, we're so easily distracted. We so easily yield to our self-righteousness and smugness, and quickly point accusing fingers at others. Holy Spirit, we come tonight to ask for your help.

If there are any harmful things in us, if there are any places where we have tolerated ungodliness, unhealthy thoughts, or we've maintained unhealthy relationships, or we have made choices that have diminished what you could do within us, or we've been silent where you wanted us to speak, or we've spoken when we should've been silent, whatever it may be, we ask for you to help us. Bring it to our awareness. We humble ourselves tonight and acknowledge our need to repent.

Lord, our children's lives are at stake. Future generations are at stake. You would be just in pouring out your judgment upon us, but we ask for your mercy tonight. Lord, we come in humility. You're the judge of all the earth. Help us. Give us understanding hearts. Give us believing hearts. Grant us willing spirits. Give us a new boldness to choose the truth, a new boldness to be identified with you, a new boldness to say no to ungodliness, a new boldness to stand against wickedness, a new boldness to speak the truth. May we have the wisdom to do so in love, but in an relenting way. I thank you for what you're doing. Lord, we praise you for the great honor of serving with you. We serve at your pleasure. May you be pleased with us, each and every one, in Jesus's name, amen.

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