Andy Stanley - One Nation Under God
Last spring, and depending on when you're listening to this, spring of 2021, we were coming out of COVID yet again, you know, we keep coming out of it, and then dropping back into it. We had just finished up a very contentious as you know, election cycle. And the way this impacted me personally, if I can be personal for just a minute, I was so grieved and so disappointed and I would even use it, I don't even know this is an appropriate word, I was just embarrassed by the behavior and the language of several, actually a lot of high profile Christian leaders and high profile pastors, bloggers and radio personalities on both sides of the political aisle, but specifically on the right side of the political aisle, I lean right politically, and so I feel like these are kind of supposedly my people and some of them are actually my friends and I was just, I was just, I was just embarrassed.
In fact, I was so bothered by it, I decided to write a book and that's not normally how I write books, but I just felt like I just have to at least get my, I have to rant a little bit and then it got longer and longer and longer. And I called the publisher. I said, hey, I just feel like I have a message, and maybe this is just my opinion, you know, but I have a message for Christian leaders and pastors specifically. I think that they, we, that's kind of a we thing 'cause we're one body regardless of what kind of church you're a part of, you know, Paul said, hey, we're all the body of Christ. You know, if you slap me, I'm not gonna have your hand arrested. I'm gonna have all you arrested, right? Because the hand's part of the body. So this can't just be me pointing my fingers like, hey, you know, the church has a problem.
So anyway, the book came out this week, it's called "Not In It to Win it". And I wanna be super clear about this, 'cause I'm super sensitive to this. You do not, if you're part of one of our Atlanta area churches, our network of churches anywhere, you do not need to purchase this book. You do not need to buy this book, you do not need to read this book because for the past two and a half years, you have lived the content of this book and you've modeled this and we've talked most about, just about everything that's in the book. We've talked about it. There's a few extra things in there, but for the most part, this is what we've been trying to do.
Now, the way I think about this and I learned this the hard way many, many years ago, made a couple of mistakes. The local church, and specifically you and our network of churches in the state of Georgia specifically, you're my first audience. I mean, this may not be important to you, but I want you to know this. And by first audience, I mean, I am very careful never to say anything publicly or in media or in an interview that I haven't said here first. So sometimes people wanna talk to me about a specific topic. And I think, you know what, I've never talked about that in church. No, I don't wanna talk about that in media. So that's a really, really big deal to me. So what's in this book is basically stuff we've been talking about all along and really you have modeled and not just modeled for the Christian community, but for churches all over the country.
A couple of weeks ago, we had 3,500 church leaders from all over the country in different parts of the world. And I just bragged onto you. I said, hey, this is how we've managed the last two and a half years, and it's not been perfect. Of course we're not gonna get it perfect. But we feel like we've stayed between the guardrails of what we've been called to do as a local church, a group of local churches and specifically the marching orders given to us by our King and in the areas that I feel like some church leaders and the churches messed up, Jesus was incredibly clear. I mean, there's some things Jesus said that we still haven't figured out exactly what he was talking about, but I mean, there's some things where he was so extraordinarily clear.
So today and next weekend, I wanna remind us of a couple of things that we need to be reminded of as a collection of local churches as our nation gears up for another round of, I don't know a better word, crazy, okay. Because it just it's about to get politically crazy again and that's okay. And I love politics and I love that the conflict and I love all that stuff. Like some of you do, some of you hate it. You just want it to go away. So it's just, it's a part of our national pastime. It's a great thing that we have free speech, which, you know, gets amped up sometime to the point where we're not sure it should be so free, but hey, it's way better than the alternative. So I'm not against any of that, but as Christians, as Jesus followers, we have a specific responsibility that we can't abandon, even though we all have widely held and strongly held political views.
So throughout the 2020 and 2021, I encouraged all of you, all of you to write a pandemic story and an election cycle story that you would be proud to tell. I asked this specifically in a message in 2020, I asked you this. I said, hey, when 2020, we are in the middle of it, and COVID and lockdown. I said when 2020 is nothing but a story you tell, what story do you want to tell? Remember I asked you this question? Do you wanna tell a story of panic and fear and selfishness and divisiveness, or do you wanna look back on 2020 and tell a story of faith, of compassion, of generosity, fidelity? And then I reminded us, I said, hey, we write our story, the story of our lives. We write 'em one decision at a time.
And I said, come on. I want you personally to write a good one, write a good one. And I want us as a collection of churches in our city to write a good story. And I feel like you did, we suspended services for almost a year, right at a year. We stayed connected in small groups in driveways. We did stuff in the community. We had, this was still amazing to me, I brag about you all the time. We had the biggest Be Rich in 2020 we'd ever had. And we hadn't met together on a Sunday morning in five months. And then in 2021, you went past the 2020 number in terms of your generosity to the community, we baptized, we did weddings. We did funerals. We gathered outside. We continued to stay together and you know, people still criticize me specifically.
And really you as well, hey, you shut down your church. I'm like, we were not shut down. We just did different stuff because we wanted to be good neighbors because the hospitals were full and the issue wasn't what do we think about COVID and all this things. The issue is what is our reputation in the community? Because our reputation matters because we're trying to impact our community. The other thing that we tried hard not to do, and you helped us and me not do this, we didn't politicize the church. And there were people in our various churches, I've talked about this, who wanted me to politicize the church and get up, you know, take a stand. And people left our churches, Sandra's here, she would tell you anytime I got any kind of information, direct message, email, you know, people leaving messages in the church that we're leaving, they're mad. My assistant Diane would look up their numbers, see what their involvement has been.
And I called every single person who said they were mad at me or mad at the church and had conversations. And they all started the same way. Is this really you? I'm like, it's really me. That's how it started. And it always ended friendly. I made sure it always ended friendly. I'm like, hey, so you're not leaving the church because of theology, our music, our student ministry, you're leaving, you're not even leaving because of something we're doing, you're leaving because of something we refuse to do. And if that's why you're leaving, then we will miss you. I hope you'll come back, but we're not gonna, you know, so because the feeling was that we had caved into political pressure and, you know, in the state of Georgia specifically, our governor didn't impose political pressure on churches, but when our church and some other large churches suspended Sunday morning services, he was very grateful because a church like ours or large churches could be super spreaders.
So anyway, so some people left and some people have come back. And I, again, I try to keep those conversations friendly, but it was disappointing. And personally, don't send me sympathy notes. I'm fine. But the personal part, and maybe you're in this camp is the people I talked to, they just didn't believe me. They did not believe that we actually suspended our services and they didn't believe that we weren't more political because of the reason I gave. It's like, no, no, there's something else to it. I'm like, no, that's it. You know, there's no agenda. Our agenda is love our neighbors, love our neighborhoods. This is how we're doing it. And Jesus has given us specific marching orders in terms of the responsibility of the church. There's no hidden agenda.
Now here's kind of get to what we need to talk about. And this is just a general principle when life is predictable and when life is kind of wrinkle free and we have some wrinkle free seasons where everybody's healthy and everybody's employed and things, you know, when life is predictable and kind of wrinkle free, it is easy to lose sight of, and this is true of all of us. It is easy to lose sight of what we value most. And it's also easy to lose sight of what we fear most. But when a tsunami of uncertainty comes rolling in, things get real real quick, right? And this is important. Uncertainty, uncertainty does not alter our value system. Uncertainty exposes our value system. And during times of uncertainty, we're gonna talk about this detail about a month from now, in times of uncertainty, our reactions to the uncertainty give us away, our reaction.
And you watch people's reactions to uncertainty, you learn a lot about a person. You learn a lot about yourself, our reactions give us away. So this is super important to keep in mind as we move on. Our actions, our actions don't tell the whole story. You've heard actions speak louder than words and actions do speak louder than words, but our actions, even our actions don't tell the whole story, but our reactions to circumstances and things around us certainly tell the whole story. And so many people, and so many Christians response to the political, social, and economic and health crisis of 20 and 21 exposed in these Christians and these church leaders what has actually been true all along. It didn't change their value system, it exposed it. And this sounds critical and I am being critical, but you know, we're part of the same body, so this is part of our responsibility.
Beneath some of that Bible-laced rhetoric and all those faith claims, there's actually a bit of a hidden agenda, an agenda that people outside the church have suspected all along. People outside the church suspect that we're just like people outside the church, that the same thing that drives them drives us. And the same thing that drives every ideological movement drives the local church. And at the end of the day, their suspicion is, and unfortunately, what too many Christians and Christian leaders tip their hat to was what we value most is winning. And apparently a lot of Christians and Christian leaders fear the same thing that every other ideology and every other group fears as well, and that is losing, losing influence, losing our voice, losing our rights.
And here's the irony, which is exactly what happens whenever the church abandons its Christ ordained mandate. Whenever the church loses sight of our mandate as a local church, we do in fact, lose our voice. We do in fact lose our influence. We do in fact lose our ultimate opportunity, which is to be the conscience of the nation. And so whenever the local church stoops to and reduces itself to kingdoms of this world aspirations, which is to win at all costs and to have our way and to protect our rights, we just become like another political group, another party, another constituency, another group to be wind and dined and divided, and sort of ferreted out to different political parties to support whatever they're about. Whenever the body of Christ in general, or a local church loses or loses sight of its Christ ordained mandate, we in fact become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
We lose the very thing that so many Christians feel like we need to fight in order to maintain. We're not here to win anything. And the church isn't here to win anything. And yes, there's a sense in which we're here to win hearts and souls. We're gonna talk about that, but we are not here to win culture wars, and we are certainly not here to win elections. So in 2021 church leaders, and this happened on both sides, the left and the right, this was the most amazing part to me, where I wanted to call some of my friends and go, what are you thinking? Okay. They churches alienated half the souls. I mean, if the church is all about reaching people or, souls, you know, reaching the souls for Jesus, we're gonna use some old fashioned language, churches on the left and the right alienated half the souls in America, through their un-Christlike behavior and rhetoric and political fear based posturing.
Now this is, this is probably way further than I need to go, but I just kind of say this to you. Don't tell me if I shared this with you. So I, the pastor's on the right, you know, it's like, who got so political, and they demonized all the Democrats, the Democrats, the Democrats, the Democrats, and then the pastors on the left, demonized the people on the right and the Christians on the right. And the pastor's on the right. And I wanted to say to both, wait a minute, you guys on the right, so you think most of the Democrats are lost and going to hell. That's right. Well, doesn't that make them the mission field? And everything you're doing in your church says, we wanna reach people for Christ, but you don't come.
Then I wanna go over to the left and say, wait a minute, 'cause I've sat in these services before. And say, look, you think all the people on the right certainly aren't God followers and following Jesus, they're just playing a game and they're lost and going to hell. Well, aren't they the mission field? Well look, what, are you, you are alienating half the people in America because of political views. And you're abandoning what Jesus has called the church to do and church to be. And consequently, we are divided. And the one thing, we'll talk about this a little bit next time, the one thing Jesus was most concerned about when it came to future church was not our theology or our music or how we baptized or how we did communion. It was unity. He said, the unity of my people is ultimately the essence or the message of people believing that I was actually sent from God.
So the last couple of years, I feel like the church in general has missed an unprecedented opportunity to live and to react in contrast to the world around us, too many Christians. And you know, all of us to some extent are probably guilty of this. Me too, right. Too many of us did exactly, this is amazing, exactly what the Apostle Paul warned first century believers not to do. You ready for this? Now, if you think this is unrealistic for us, what I'm about to show you, you can't even imagine how unrealistic this was and sound in the first century. He said this, "Do everything without grumbling or arguing," but wait a minute, that's un-American, grumbling and arguing, that's how you know I'm an American by how I grumble and argue. I mean, how unpatriotic is this? Do everything without. And the assumption behind this statement is, the assumption was there was something to grumble and to argue about.
So Paul, I mean, come on. Why not grumble and argue? Why not demand our way? What's the win in that? He says, well, I'm glad you asked. "So that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation". So kind of dial us back in a second. We've all said this, or thought this, oh my gosh, what's happened to our country? What's happened to our country? You know, we're going the way of this. We're going the way of that. In other words, what you're saying, you just haven't used this word. You're like, oh my gosh, we're warped. You know what warped is? It's you know, it's out of balance. It's out of balance. It's out balance. So Paul says, look, if you're concerned about your warped generation, or your warped community, or your warped culture, or this crooked generation, he says, hey church, I got some good news for you. You have the potential to make all the difference in your warped and crooked generation, but you're not gonna make any difference by grumbling and arguing with everybody else.
If you grumble and argue with everybody else, people are gonna think you're just everybody else. And then he says this, and again, if we think this seems unrealistic, there's just no way to exaggerate how crazy this sounded in the first century. He said, if you get this right, then result, then it's amazing. "Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky". Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky. The contrast will be so apparent and the contrast will be so evident, people will stop and stare. Well, thanks to the last two and a half years for a variety of reasons, the church has lost some of its shine and Christians have lost, we've lost some of our shine. And I say, we get it back. I say, we try to fix this and it's not gonna be easy, but it's not complicated because we gotta stop arguing and grumbling with one another. Because you know, 2021, we argued and grumbled with one another. Christians argued and grumbled with state and local authorities, with their neighbors, and with their pastors.
I heard from so many pastors, Andy, the people in my church have lost their minds. I'm like, I know, it's happened in here in our city as well. And, again, they said the same thing I said a minute ago. And they're saying the people in my church are not mad at me for what I'm doing. They're mad at me for what I'm not doing, that I've never done and don't plan to do. It's like they have some new gear they think that we're supposed to shift into because what's happening in our country. I'm like I get it, I understand. And it's our responsibility as church leaders and pastors to lead the way, regardless of what it cost us along the way. To use Jesus words, I mean, okay, Paul, I mean, he's one thing, here's Jesus. He says you are to, we are to, he's talking to his first century followers, "Let our light shine before others, that they may see something different," that there might be a differentiation, that there might be a contrast "that they may see our good deeds," imagine what we think on the inside, but see something on the outside, "and glorify our Father in heaven".
Instead we went to, so many pastors and churches went to war with state local governments over their right to meet shoulder to shoulder in recirculated air during a pandemic. And you know, when it left and again, again, every state's different, every church is different. There's not a one size fits all. I got friends all over the country handled this lots of different ways, but here's the problem. And here's where you got it right. Because you understand, we are committed to being an outward facing set and group of local churches. But the ones that decided, oh, we gotta get back at it. They left the impression. This is what just, ah, just grieves me. They left the impression with people in the world that the church would suffer irreversible harm, the church will suffer irreversible harm if we can't meet shoulder to shoulder every seven days, oh my goodness. The end has come. The church cannot. The church will not survive if we can't meet shoulder to shoulder in buildings with recirculated air every seven days, the end is near.
I'm like, do you know how fragile that makes the church sound? Do you have any idea how the church began? Do you have any idea what's happening in other countries? And then again, this is the other embarrassing part and I gotta move on. You know, all of a sudden, all this talk about we're losing our religious liberty. We're losing our religious liberty, and Christians in other countries are like, no, you're not. Let me show you a loss of religious liberty. Come spend a month with me. Come spend six months with me, missionaries all over the world were like, no, you're not. We're like, oh, the end is near. We look pathetically weak and fragile. When Jesus was clear, I'm going to establish my ecclesia and the gates of hell are gonna be able to shut it down. Rome didn't shut it down. The temple didn't shut it down. Communism didn't shut it down. No isms gonna shut it down. It's not fragile. Quit freaking out and quit being so afraid and quit grabbing the sides of the canoe.
If you've ever done whitewater canoeing, the last thing you wanna do is grab the sides. What happens? You're in the water. Okay. I mean, it's, you're just like, oh, I gotta grab the sides. You're wet. Okay. You just don't do that, right. And so watching all this fear and all this panic, I'm like what has happened to us? I told you, it's kind of a rant, social media, watching pastors and Christians, and maybe some of you, right, demonize and criticize by name people you've never met, people you don't even have access to, people we don't even know, okay, this is Christianity 101. We gave up the moral high ground. You know what we did? We confirmed with some of your kids and some of your grandkids. And some of you, we confirmed what the next generation suspected about us. That perhaps we don't actually believe what we claim to believe. Demonizing people and the other political party has sort of become an exercise in virtue.
Now, if you're not a Christian, have at it, right? There's no rules for you. This has nothing to do with you. You can do whatever you want, right. You can be as mean as you want, use all the expletives you want. I mean, just have at it. It's entertaining. But come on. If you are a Jesus follower and if you are a pastor and you have responsibility for the spiritual development of people, you have no business participating in any of that, even if you're convinced you're right, and even if you are right, because Jesus spoke to these matters and spoke to these issues. But I understand, you know, we're standing up for the truth. You know, we're not gonna be intimidated. We're demanding and protecting our religious rights, we're fighting the good fight, we are in it to win it. You know which honestly, as a man, as an American, as a human being, that sounds good to me, that appeals to me, we're gonna win. We're gonna fight the good fight. We're gonna stand our ground. We're gonna argue. And it sounds good until you follow, until you follow Jesus through the gospels.
Uh-oh. Until you follow the Apostle Paul from Greece, to Jerusalem, to Rome. Uh-oh. So as un-American as it sounds and as pathetic as it sounds, and as you know, I don't know, passive as it sounds, the church is not here to win. Think about this. I know this is disturbing, but we talk about it all the time. By every human, by every human measure, by every human measure, our savior didn't win. He lost, he lost on purpose, with a purpose. And we are his body. So like our savior, if you're a Jesus follower, if you're not a Jesus follower or whatever, if you're just a Christian who likes to believe things and not do anything, have at it, you're a hypocrite. But you know, just believe stuff and act like everybody. And no, you are. Jesus said you're a hypocrite, right? Not, not me. I wouldn't say that, right, but you are. I mean, Jesus put it this way.
Hey, anybody who hears these words of mine and goes, mm mm mm. And doesn't do 'em. He says, you're like somebody who built your house on the sand, it's not gonna do you a bit of good. The doing is in, the difference is made in the doing, this is why Jesus Jesus said, I want you to light, let your life shine in such a way that people see something different about you. See your good works and look up and shine. So like our savior, we're not in this to win anything. We're in it for something else entirely. And then I gotta move on. When we, this is so important, and I know I'm kind of preaching to the choir. I just don't want us to lose sight of this, 'cause it's about to get crazy again, right, when we allow our faith, and this is true of you as an individual, when you allow your faith, or when we, as a group, when we allow our faith to be subjugated to our political party of choice, when we allow our faith to be co-opted by our political party of choice, we lose our voice, we lose our direct distinction, and we lose our way, and we lose our opportunity to be the thing that we have been assigned to do, to be the conscience of our nation, which means the nation that we love.
I love our country, like you, I love our country, but when we get this wrong, the nation that we love suffers because Jesus didn't come to win the way that we define, when he came to lose and he invited us to follow him with a different win. Apostle Paul certainly understood it, right? The Jesus followers in Antioch, we'll talk about this maybe sometime next week, the Jesus followers in Antioch, this is amazing. They were called Christians, like you would call somebody a bad name. They were accused of being Christian. Wouldn't that be great to be accused of being Christian? Let's bring that back, right? They were accused of being Christians because it was so evident they weren't following Caesar and they weren't following the governor. They were partisans of a different king. They understood it, Peter understood it. And it, the gospel changed. This is the thing I don't want us to lose sight of, historically is undeniable. It changed the world. It changed, the gospel changes communities. It changes families. It changes cultures. Most of us would say, hey, it changed, it changed my life.
Now to be clear, I'm not advocating that we withdraw from the political process. Just the opposite. You should be more politically involved. Everybody should vote. I mean, what a stewardship of opportunity we have. We aren't ruled by Caesar. We are we the people, anytime you have an opportunity to vote, your law of Christ informed conscience, you should vote. Some of you need to get involved in local politics, state politics, maybe national politics, who knows? So lean into the process, okay? Don't withdraw because we've been called to love and to care. So we have to do everything we can. We have to do everything we can to create and protect a culture of human flourishing, which is fueled by the love and care of God as we love and care in his name. But, and this is the jumping off point, and this is the point of demarcation.
If you think, Andy, I think you're talking outta both sides of your mouth. I wanna clear that up right now. Here's the issue. We should be extremely involved because we're extremely grateful for our nation, but our posture and our tone and our approach must reflect that of our Lord. Our posture, our tone, and our approach has been prescribed to us. You have the freedom to choose whether or not you follow Jesus, but you don't get to choose what following Jesus looks like, sounds like, acts like, or reacts like, because that has been prescribed to us as Jesus followers. The instructions are on the label. Now in his letter to Christians, the crazy church in Corinth, the Apostle Paul describes his win. He uses the word win. He says, there is a win, but it's not the win the way the world understands and kingdoms of this world defines winning. He says there is a win. And he tells us what his strategy for winning is.
Now, he's the ultimate church planner. He's doing the impossible job of going into Gentile pagan cultures and not just talking about Jesus, but asking them to abandon their, this is impossible to imagine, he's asking them to abandon their entire, not their religion, their entire world view. He is inviting Gentiles to think differently about everything and everybody. So here's his strategy. It is so lame. It is so passive. It couldn't possibly work. FYI, his lame ideas along with Jesus lame ideas and passive ideas and totally couldn't work ideas shaped Western civilization. It's why every woman with a car should have a bumper sticker that says, I love Jesus, whether you are a Christian or not. Because he elevated the dignity of every single woman, every single child, every single person, it shaped Western civilization.
And how did he do it? He did not go about it the way we are attempted to go about it because he was not kingdoms of this world anything he was kingdoms of God, the kingdom that came to reverse the order of things and has invited us to follow. Here's the Apostle Paul's approach. It's disturbing, but remember this, it worked. He says this, "Though I am free and I don't belong to anyone, I have made myself a slave to everyone". Now we see this word and we think of it figuratively. Remember, he's writing in a time when the entire economy of the world rose and fell on the amount of slaves, the ability of slaves to function and the ability to purchase slaves. And when he wrote this, every single person, including Paul, every single person, except for just a handful of people, was potentially someone's slave. It wasn't ethnic slavery, it was poverty slavery. It was, hey, my husband died slavery. It was the crops didn't come in slavery. It's my didn't have any children to support me slavery. Everybody was a potential slave.
So this was a really, really big deal, owned and traded people. In fact, the Apostle Paul's grandparents or parents were probably slaves that had been set free. But in this case, he chose to look at this. I have made myself, I have made myself a slave, wait, Paul, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. But like to everyone, you said everyone, like even the people you don't like, especially the people, even the people you disagree with, especially the people I disagree with. Seriously, he decided to place himself under, to serve under, to go second. But he had an agenda. This wasn't just to be a nice guy. He had an agenda. He had an other's first strategy and agenda that had been given to him by his king. Here's his agenda. "Though I am free and belong to no one, I've made myself a slave to everyone to win," there's the win, "as many as possible".
So you're into winning. Yes, I am into winning, I'm into winning as many people as possible. And again, Paul's goal, it's impossible, was to win people away from a generationally ingrained worldview to a new way of seeing everything in everybody. How naive, how pathetic, I mean, what kind of strategy is that? Let me get this straight, Paul, so this is your strategy. I mean, this is never gonna work. You are gonna submit to and serve people as a way of influencing people? Paul, dude, that's not gonna work. You can't influence people by serving and placing yourself under them. That didn't work for, it's not gonna work for you, and it didn't work for Jesus. Well, anyway, he continues. He says this, he says to the Jews, this is very confusing to us, "To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews". Like Paul, dude, you are a Jew. What does this even mean? Okay. He's a Jew to us. He wasn't a Jew to him.
In the first century, he wasn't a Jew. In the first century, he was a Hebrew from Tarsus. In the first century, Jesus was a Galilean from Galilee, from Nazare specifically. In the first century, if you lived in Judea, you were considered a Judean or a Jew. So what he's saying is this, I have become, even though I'm from Tarsus, even though I was raised in a different culture, ultimately he ended up moving to Judea and he blended in with the Judeans who ran the temple. He said, when I'm around the Judeans who run the temple and have that very specific form of religion and very kind of buttoned up, he says, I've learned to play the game with them. He says this to those under the law, those under the law. "I became like one under the law, though I myself am not technically under the law," but I, you know, I can get along with people under the law. I can go along with that, why? "So as to win those under the law". "To those who don't have the law, Gentiles, I became like one who didn't have the law, though I am not free from God's law," and then here's the kicker.
Here's where suddenly his little story intersects with my story and your story. "Though, I am not free from God's law". What do you mean? You're talking about Torah. No, let me be clear, but I am under, let's say this together, Christ's law. One more time, I'm under Christ's law. So let me get rid of the word Christ and go right to what it means, I'm under the law of a king. I'm under the law of God's final King. God's one and only anointed one. And my friend, if you consider yourself a Christian, you too are accountable to the law of Christ. And the law of Christ is very simple. You don't even need to write it down. There's not 10. There's just one. You are to love one another as God through Christ has loved you. You are to love the people around you. I'm to love the people around me. The way that God through Christ loved me. That is the law of Christ.
And Paul says, as I make my way into all these different cultures and interface with all these different people in order to win them over to a new way of seeing the world, I am under, I am under the law of God. I am under Christ's law. Here's why this is important. And Christ's law will determine my tone, my posture, and my approach. Christ's law to love as God through Christ love me, will determine my tone, and my posture, and my approach. I'm gonna love others as he love me. I'm gonna one another one another, regardless of the political views of the one another's on one anothering. Why Paul? Oh, same reason. "So as to win those not having the law". I said, come on, Paul, make up your mind. You just waffle, waffle, waffle, whoever you're with, you're just a chameleon. You just blend in, take a stand, man, take a position. You can't stand in the middle. You gotta be hot or cold, you can't be lukewarm.
These are the kind of things that people threw at us, pastors, 2021, like take a stand. Here's one, are you afraid of losing followers? Like, no, if I was afraid of losing followers, I wouldn't take this stand. It's lonely in the middle, nobody likes you. You get shot at from both sides, I learned that from Dr. King. You know, by the way, he has a statue on the mall, the people who hated him, we don't even know their names, just moving on. Anyway. So pastors, pastors, I'm talking about, I'm talking about the pastors who refused to politicize. Come on, the ecclesia of Jesus. A refusal to take a political stand was viewed as a, not taking a stand, but we did take a stand. Our stand was simple. We're not gonna politicize the ecclesia of Jesus. We're standing for the posture, the tone and the approach prescribed to us. We don't get to make this part up, prescribed us by our King. We're standing against alienating half the people in the United States of America by siding with one political party over the other. We chose to stand with Jesus in the lonely, messy middle, rather than capitulate to divisive broad brush political talking points.
Now gotta move on. What he writes next is one of my favorite things in the whole New Testament. I mean, I would love to think that this informs my living, my life, the way we lead our churches. Here's what he says. This is basically his mission and strategy statement he gives us next. Here it is, ready? He says, "I have become all things to all people". In other words, don't miss this. I have learned, and this is what we must all learn, and some of you are great at this. And some of you, this is difficult for you because your personality, your temperament, just the way you were raised. But this is, this is an all skate. He says, I have learned to build and navigate relationships with people I have virtually nothing in common with. But Paul, why? I mean, that's so much trouble. It's so much easier to just go find your corner and surround yourself with people who look like you and live like you. Why go to all this effort? Here it is. He says, so that, I love this statement, "So that by all possible means," whatever it takes, including being misunderstood, including being left out, including in his case, being mistreated. And then he lays out his mission, his great commission informed mission. Here it is, "that I might save some".
Now it's amazing. And I've said this before, that anything the Apostle Paul wrote survived the first century, but you know why it survived? It survived because he refused to bend to the prevailing worldviews of his day. He was convinced as we are, he was convinced that Yahweh had done something new in the world for the world. And it was so new he wasn't gonna let it be co-opted. It was so new, it didn't fit in any current existing political bucket. It was so new, but it was in the world for the world. In spite of everything going on in the world, he was convinced and he was convinced, this is amazing, that he held the moral and ethical high ground, and he didn't feel compelled to win something because, and you agree with this, he didn't feel compelled to win something because Jesus had already won, which means the world had already won. Paul's like somebody just needs to tell him.
So he set out to do just this. Here's how he wraps it up. He says, "I do all of this," all this back and forth, blending in, figuring it out, you know, influencing people. "I do all this for the sake of the gospel that I might share, ultimately, in its blessings". So I say, we just keep doing that because when a local church or a group of local churches or the church in general, when the church becomes preoccupied with saving America, it has forsaken its mission. When a church becomes preoccupied with defending its own rights, rather than advocating for the rights of other people, its lost its way. The church always, we always look better when we're advocating for other people's rights rather than our own. I'll wrap it up with this.
Tim Keller makes this extraordinary statement. He writes, "When the church as a whole is no longer seen by the outside world as speaking to questions that transcend or go beyond politics, and when it is no longer united by a common faith that transcends politics," then this is what we said a few minutes ago, "then the world sees strong evidence that Nietzsche, Freud, and Marx were right, that religion, all religion, Christianity in particular, that religion is just a cover for people wanting to get their way in the world".
Isn't that how your unchurch friends and family members see the church? Ah, it's just another ideology. It's just another movement. They just want their way in the world. They're just leveraging Jesus in the Bible to get their way in the world. And Tim is exactly right. When the church is divided and when the church is at each other, and when the church allows itself to be subjugated to any other issue and any other thing other than the gospel, it looks as if we're just leveraging our religion in order to cover for ourselves and get our way in the world. So let's resist that temptation. Let's decide we're not gonna do that. Let's continue to decide we are not gonna do that. Every time you place your hand over your heart to say the pledge of allegiance, basically you advocate for what we're talking about. One nation, one nation under God, one nation, but one nation under God. God first, our King first, because our ultimate allegiance is to the King, the better King.
And here's the thing. And you know this because you've experienced it, whether you had words or put words around it or not, our uncompromising devotion, our uncompromising devotion to our better King will ultimately make America a better nation. It will ultimately make the world a better, safer place. Our uncompromising devotion to our better King will ultimately make America a better nation and the world a better, safer place. And we know that, not because we're projecting into the future, but because that's what history actually attest to. Next week, we're gonna talk specifically about us and specifically what's next. So please don't miss part two of Not In It to Win It.