November 9: The Day After

November 9…the day after one of the most contentious, vitriolic presidential election seasons in our recent past (this was my 8th presidential election to vote in). Some of us are rejoicing, some of us are despairing, and many of us are confused as to what direction our nation will pursue. But as we declared time and time again in our God & Politics series: our ultimate hope is not in a president, political party, or platform but in the Risen Lord Jesus and His kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. That truth and reality still stands firm on November 9, the day after (and on November 10, two days after…and on November 11, three days after…and on and on). “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).

As followers of Jesus, I want to encourage and exhort all of us to be agents of hope right now. Over the coming days, weeks, and months, many of us will engage people who are frustrated, angry, and despondent over the results of the presidential election. We have an opportunity to compassionately listen. More importantly, we have an opportunity “to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have…with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15). We have an opportunity to plant seeds of the good news of Jesus that transcends all human politics. Let us not get drawn into the partisan divide. Let us not get drawn into the rhetoric of anger and desperation. Instead, let us be agents of hope. Let us pray that God would have mercy on us as a nation. Let us pray that God would change the lives and hearts of our elected leaders to pursue laws and policies of goodness and justice (1 Timothy 2:1-2). Let us pray that God would empower and embolden followers of Jesus to be agents of hope.

I close with a powerful quote from Jared Wilson’s The Story of Everything:

The importance and fundamental purpose of the church is to keep pointing away from the world for the hope of the world. While everyone else points to government, family, good deeds, and whatever else as The Secret [to life], the church keeps pointing to the alien, heavenly power of grace as the hope for our problems and for our false hopes. Only the good news of Jesus is the answer to everything. And only this good news makes us new and satisfies our longings for connection with God and with our fellow man and for significance in the world.

Go be the Church for our world for such a time as this!

Pastor Jonathan

 

 

God & Politics Resources

As we began the God & Politics series this past Sunday with “Kings & Kingdoms,” remember the overarching theme of the series: “Our hope for the world is not America but Jesus!” There is a difference between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of this world, especially as it relates to the use of power. The kingdom of this world exercises a “power over.” This is how governments enforce laws and keep the peace. But the kingdom of God exercises a “power under”—a self-sacrificial love that changes and transforms its citizens from the inside out. Charles Coulson in his book God & Government (listed below) explains the difference between these two kingdoms like this:

Nothing distinguishes the kingdoms of man from the Kingdom of God more than their diametrically opposed views of the exercise of power. One seeks to control people, the other to serve people; one promotes self; the other prostrates self; one seeks prestige and position, the other lifts up the lowly and despised. It is crucial for Christians to understand the difference.

Here are some recommended resources for further exploration on this important topic.

DISCLAIMER: Even though I recommend these resources, I don’t agree with everything contained within. When you read, use discernment and critical judgement to come to your own Spirit-led, biblically-informed conclusions. 

God & Government – Charles Colson. Colson was Special Counsel to President Nixon. He was convicted and imprisoned after the Watergate Scandal. While in prison, he became a follower of Jesus in 1973. He wrote extensively on many subjects concerning a Christian worldview, but he has a unique vantage point and incredible insight into our response and posture as followers of Jesus in a political world.

How Would Jesus Vote? – Darrell Bock. Bock was one of my New Testament professors at Dallas Theological Seminary. He is brilliant thinker and respected biblical scholar. His book gives a good biblical framework for current issues (size of government, economics and poverty, health care, sexuality, individual rights, etc.).

Jesus Outside the Lines – Scott Sauls. Written by a pastor, Sauls helps us see Jesus and His central, unifying kingdom as the way forward in these divisive times. 

Hijacked: Responding to the Partisan Church Divide – Mike Slaughter & Charles Gutenson. Written by a pastor and a seminary professor, this book is a good theological and sociological assessment of how we can hold to: “in essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”

How to Change the World – James Davison Hunter. While not for the “faint of heart” (i.e., it’s a dense book), this in-depth sociological analysis helps us see why politics cannot be our ultimate hope for change in this world. 

Additional Resources. Years ago, I wrote a blog post about “upside down politics,” and I offered additional books and news sources. Some of the books are listed above, but there are additional resources listed in this post.

My prayer is that you would seek the wisdom and guidance of the Holy Spirit during this political season so that you can proclaim our ultimate hope—King Jesus and His kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven!

What are resources you would recommend and why?

God & Politics

With the upcoming Presidential election, American politics is in full swing. Whether you like any of the candidates, none of the candidates, or are threatening to move to Canada, as a follower of Jesus in a democratic republic, you have been given the opportunity to exercise your vote. If we are going to vote wisely, then we need to understand why and how God has established civil governments. We also need to understand the important difference and distinction between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of this world. In our new series God & Politics, we’ll explore some key passages in the Bible that give us a framework, not whom we should vote for but how we should vote. Remember—our only Savior and hope is Jesus, not our president, party, or political platforms.

Here’s the schedule for the series:

September 11 – Kings & Kingdoms

September 18 – Do’s & Don’ts

September 25 – God & Government

October 2 – Priorities & Policies

Here are some additional resources for exploring more about God & Politics.

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