Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

Politics and Preaching – Part 4

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Today we are tempted to look to politic power as the answer to our problems but this is not a new phenomenon. 2000 years ago the people in Jesus day also looked to political power as the main means of solving their problems. In the story of the Feeding of the 5,000 in John 6, we tend to focus on the miracle of the Messiah as well we should, but what we often miss is the response of the people. Verses 14-15 reveal their idolatrous thinking: “14 When the people saw him do this miraculous sign, they exclaimed, “Surely, he is the Prophet we have been expecting!” 15 When Jesus saw that they were ready to force him to be their king, he slipped away into the hills by himself.” Their expectations centered around a political prophet, they were not looking for the Lord they were looking to law as the answer. While those that Jesus ministered to recognize his power they were governed by a sense of utility that redefines what they thought his messiahship should be. Their idea of messianic power is more in line with a world view than the Words and stands in sharp contrast, to the nature of the Kingdom that Jesus brings, and contrary to the kind of King he is. It is their desire of using Jesus to bring in the kingdom that they want that leads to their idolatrous ideology. For those of us that call ourselves Christians one of the questions we need to ask ourselves is, which kingdom are we living for, an earthly kingdom or an eternal one? The crowd saw the sign that Jesus did and responded by trying to “make him king by force.” The theology of the crowd was not scripturally based but self-serving; they reasoned that if this man had the power to feed that many people in the wilderness, then he had the power to rule over Rome. They were looking to Jesus as a Political Messiah with political power, and they missed the Prince of Peace. Many of us do the same thing today we try to force Jesus to fit our political persuasion but notice Jesus’ response in verse 15: “When Jesus saw that they were ready to force him to be their king, he slipped away into the hills by himself.” When we try to force the Messiah to fit into our mold we forfeit not just His power but His presence. The Kingdom that Jesus came to inaugurate did not come by means of political power. We may be tempted to look down on the crowd for their idolatrous theology but remember the crowd was not alone in their thinking, the disciples were also distracted by political power. Peter displayed this same worldly theology when he willing used physical force to bring in the kingdom of God by striking “the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear” with a sword, John 18:10. Much to her disgrace throughout history the church has been willing to use not only swords, but bombs and bullets to eliminate those that Jesus came to save. Again we see the same response from the Redeemer, Jesus will have none of it: “Put your sword back into its sheath. Shall I not drink from the cup of suffering the Father has given me?” John 18:11, and in Matthew 26:52 he added “Those who use the sword will die by the sword.” In Luke 22:51 we discover that Jesus not only reprimanded Peter for using His power to hurt but turned around and used his power to heal: “But Jesus said, “No more of this.” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.” When Jesus picks Malchus’ bloody ear off the ground and put it back on his head the disciples are sure that Jesus’ political philosophy is unrelated to God’s Kingdom. It is here that those who supported Jesus based on their belief that He would overthrow Rome fled from him. You see a Messiah who heals the enemy cannot be their Messiah. When our wants clash with His Will one of two things will happen, either Jesus will leave or we will walk away from Him. It is important to note that this is Jesus’ last recorded miracle prior to His resurrection. Jesus used His power not for political gain but to serve and save. Peter was not the only disciple with a politically perverted perspective, James and John had the same theology in Luke 9:53-55, where they want to call down fire from heaven upon the Samaritans who do not welcome Jesus into their village, “53 But the people of the village did not welcome Jesus because he was on his way to Jerusalem. 54 When James and John saw this, they said to Jesus, “Lord, should we call down fire from heaven to burn them up?” 55 But Jesus turned and rebuked them” Again we see Jesus rebuking His disciples, how sad that Jesus had to tell them that the Son of Man did not come to kill people but to save them. James and John were willing to use supernatural force to steamroll people in the name of Jesus. What is amazing about these two accounts is that they come toward the end of Jesus public ministry shortly before He was crucified on the cross. The disciples had walked with Jesus for three years, they had heard his heart and yet their wants still outweighed His will. Instead of looking to Jesus as the solution to sin, they looked to him as the solution to their wants. What is amazing is that the first one to acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God after his death was the Roman centurion, a member of the occupation army, the ones the Messiah was supposed to eliminate. Jesus healed the servant of the High Priest and saves the Roman soldier. In John 18:36 He told Pilate that his “kingdom was not of this world. If it was, my servants would fight.” Peter, James and John were all fighting for the wrong kingdom. There idolatry was redefining sonship based on their political preference, trying to make Jesus into the messiah that they wanted. Many Christians today are making the same mistake, trying to use Jesus to create the kingdom they want, as opposed to being disciples in the Kingdom Jesus initiated. Sadly today instead of being committed to the cause of Christ many Christians have become converts of CNN or followers of Fox news. We seem to have forgotten that Jesus didn’t die on the cross to save a country he came to save souls. I think that one of the reasons the world rejected Jesus was because the way God gets things done looks weak to the world. Which makes me wonder what kind of power does the church value? Today we seem to be more enamored with worldly power than Jesus’ power. I wonder if that is why we are so worried and worked up over the election. We need to remember that it was a handful of faithful disciples living under Roman rule but trusting in God’s power that changed the world. What about you what power are you trusting in, political power or the power of the Prince?

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