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Read Romans 13

Every election year it seems that the tension and intensity increases. These are anxious, worried times. We are living through a gruesome trifecta: a bitter election season, a shaky economy, and hysterical media. That’s why I thought it was right that we heard Isaish’s sermon last week: “Do not fear what they fear. Don’t call conspiracy what they call conspiracy.”

Christians need to take this sermon to heart. Even if this truly is the most divisive and most critical campaign in American history we need to be faithful, not fearful. Come November 5, the election could go either way on any number of issues or candidates and we might just be alarmed at the consequences or reactions to those outcome. Once again, Christian should be faithful, not fearful.

What will happen on November 4 or what should happen on November 4? I am not going to predict that. I cannot say. The message today is not to endorse a candidate or a party. My charge is not to preach a “party political message.” And that’s not because of concern about losing our tax-exempt status. Rather, because our purpose in coming together at this time is to give our attention to the living word of God and let it shape us.

I know this about November 4th. I know that good and decent Christians will vote for the Republican candidates. I know that good and decent Christians will vote for the Democratic candidates. I know that good and decent Christians will even vote for some of the other parties. And I know that before and after the vote, they will remain Christians and children of God because of the blood of Christ – not because of their voting record.

I know that I am confused about the tension, worry, and fear building up to November 4. It is such that some Christians are alienated from their brothers and sisters in opposite parties.

Perhaps it’s the media. Perhaps it’s the historical value of this election. Maybe it’s the issue of race. Maybe it’s just the momentum of the last few years of increasingly anxious politics. But let’s keep perspective: there have always been divisive passions among people and people have ways of grouping into tribes. At some level people always seem to find some way to distinguish themselves and identify themselves in opposition to others. We need to be careful about that as Christians, however, as we have a unifying identity greater than anything that divides us. Can I give some perspective here

Granny and Pearl – [Family Story]

The lesson I want to offer is this: There are no distinctions in Christ. For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28) – If that can be said of Jews and Gentiles, then it can be said of Democrats and Republicans.

But what is the proper relationship of all Christians in any party, in America, in all nations to the governments and the powers that come and go in this world. What is our response and our responsibility on November 3rd and on November 5th? What must be the same?

I humbly offer the word of God, written by Paul in the 13th chapter of Romans. Romans 13

  1. Christians are Good Citizens ...

    "Christians are indistinguishable from other men either by nationality, language or customs. They do not inhabit separate cities of their own, or speak a strange dialect, or follow some outlandish way of life. Their teaching is not based upon reveries inspired by the curiosity of men. Unlike some other people, they champion no purely human doctrine. With regard to dress, food and manner of life in general, they follow the customs of whatever city they happen to be living in, whether it is Greek or foreign. And yet there is something extraordinary about their lives. They live in their own countries as though they were only passing through. They play their full role as citizens, but labor under all the disabilities of aliens. Any country can be their homeland, but for them their homeland, wherever it may be, is a foreign country. Like others, they marry and have children, but they do not expose them. They share their meals, but not their wives. They live in the flesh, but they are not governed by the desires of the flesh. They pass their days upon earth, but they are citizens of heaven. Obedient to the laws, they yet live on a level that transcends the law. – Letter to Diognetus, procurator of Alexandria, from an unknown disciple between 2nd and 3rd cent. AD

  2. Citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven

Love – The sort of rancor and personal destruction that has been present in politics in the past and especially now is not good citizenship, it’s not heavenly, and it is not love. Love is at the core of being good citizens. Love is at the core of being good neighbors. And that’s hard to accept in the negatively charged environment we live in.

But that’s the problem. We seem to have forgotten that we are subject to this higher law of love. Love does no harm to its neighbor. Let’s wake up and quit sleepwalking through the world and coasting along with its politics. Let’s look ahead to a kingdom that is breaking in even now.
The hour has come for us to wake up from our slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.

What our neighborhoods, our nation, and our world need most is the peace of God. As citizens of the kingdom of heaven, we are good citizens because we are instruments of his peace.

Chris Benjamin

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 2 November 2008

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