Sweet Fruit for Sour Times

Pastor Jerry Gillis - November 1, 2020

Community Group Study Notes

  1. Take time as a group to pray together for your discussion today. Ask God to lead the conversation in ways that are glorifying to him and edifying to others. 

  1. Have someone in your group provide a brief, 2-minute summary of Sunday’s teaching. 

  1. What was one thing that God was showing you through this message?   

  1. Read Matthew 6:31-34 out loud. Why is it important for us to know that we still have a Kingdom, regardless of what happens in this country? How can you seek the Kingdom first in this current season?  

  1. What is one action step that you can take in light of Sunday’s message and our conversation today? 


Sermon Transcript

Some of you know I was raised in a marine corps household and lived on a bunch of marine bases. And so when growing up and even through the years I have heard the phrase simplify a bazillion times. Now that phrase is short for a Latin phrase that's semper fidelis, which means always faithful. And when the marines use that term, always faithful, they're referring to not only always being faithful to their country but always being faithful to fellow marines. And so if we were reading the text of the passage that we're studying in Galatians chapter five which we've been studying the fruit of the spirit for those of you, if you're just checking in with us now, we've been in Galatians 5:22 for a bunch of weeks now, and we're studying that. If we were to look at that in the Latin Vulgate which I'm sure you were doing just prior to arriving, you had the Latin Vulgate out, and you were going through your Latin. If we were to do that, we would see the term fides, that's listed there as a fruit of the spirit. And that's kind of the same root word for fidelis, right? In the English language, it looks like this in Galatians 5:22, it says, "But the fruit of the spirit is love joy, peace, forbearance kindness, goodness, faithfulness." That's how it's translated there. So whether we're looking at fides in the Latin, or whether we're looking in the Greek, which is pistis or whether we see it in English faithfulness, the idea of the word is simply someone who is loyal. It talks about loyalty or that that person that can be depended upon. That's the idea behind this particular word. Now what's happening when Paul is saying that the fruit of the spirit is faithfulness is that Paul is saying that when we access the life of God, by way of the spirit, which the spirit then begins to work in our lives, that we will begin to demonstrate the life of God to the world. In fact, what we're demonstrating is the actual character of Jesus. A statement maybe that you could write down, if you want to think about it a little bit later is this, the spirit shows the world that Jesus is faithful and helps us to become like him in that way. That's what we're talking about when we talk about this idea of the fruit of the spirit being faithfulness, we're talking about how the spirit shows the world that Jesus is faithful. And what he does is he works in us in such a way that he helps us to become like Jesus in that way. That's why when we have access to the spirit we begin to be transformed by the spirit. One of the fruits of that is that he produces faithfulness in us because that is consistent with the very life of God, and specifically the life of Jesus. So what we see is we see the spirit revealing the character of Jesus to the world through us. That shouldn't surprise us because Jesus said as much when he was talking in John 16, he said these words. He says, "But when he, the spirit of truth comes," notice he called the Holy spirit, the spirit of truth. "He will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own. He will speak only what he hears. And he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you." In other words what the spirit is doing is he is the agent to be able to allow the life of Jesus, to be formed in us in such a way that now the world can see this life. And one of the flavors of that singular fruit that we read about in Galatians 5 is that of faithfulness, faithfulness to God and faithfulness to other people. Now that we understand that generally speaking as kind of a matter of introduction, let's set our hearts toward applying what this means. In fact, I'm super grateful that we've kind of experienced God's sovereign grace through this series that we've embarked upon in talking about sweet fruit for sour times. I'm really grateful for his grace that as we've walked through this and allow the text to direct us that we have the opportunity to be able to apply his truth every step of the way. And today is no different. I don't know if you guys know this but there's an election happening in the United States. Everybody aware of that, it's brand new. I'm here for you. Brand new to you. And because of that, I think what we can do is we can ask a very kind of pointed question and it's this, how can we live out faithfulness, the fruit of faithfulness? How do we live that out in this election season? How do we live that out with our voting, when we talk about the fruit of faithfulness? Now having said that and telling you that we're going to be applying this idea to our present context. I hope that you're not nervous. Some of you are maybe thinking I'm nervous for you, Jerry, 'cause you could just step all in it. And people get mad at you and they call you this name or that name, or tell you you're a coward or tell you this, or you're that or whatever. That happens, right? I'm not really worried about that. What I'm worried about is being faithful to what God's called me to do, and how he's called me to do it. So don't be nervous for me. I'm not nervous for me. I'm always nervous on a Sunday morning generally speaking, because I go to bed on Saturday nights realizing that there are gonna be people who die believing what I tell them. And that's a heavy load when you're trying to sleep on a Saturday night which means I wanna stay as closely tethered to the word of God as possible, so that this isn't just like cool thoughts with Jerry. But this is more about what God has asked of us. So some of you may be nervous and thinking, I'm nervous for you, don't be. Some of you are nervous for yourselves 'cause you're like, "I don't know what he's gonna say. And he better say everything that I want him to say." And I just wanna take the pressure off of you there. I won't say everything you want me to say. I might say some things that you want me to say, but I need you to understand something. First of all, my primary job is not to build a base for a political party. It's to build an army of disciples for Jesus. That's who I am. That's what I do. And that's what we'll be doing in this context. So I'm not gonna give you temporary talking points for a political party. I'm gonna give you the transcendent word of God. I'm not going to try and cut a path for a particular candidate. I'm gonna take your hand and I'm gonna walk you to Jesus because that's what God has called me to do. I also want you to know that there's no chance in this time of application, that I'll be able to cover everything. There's just no way for me to be able to do that. It's a finite period of time that I'll have right now. I'll not be able to get to everything. I won't be able to get to every nuanced thought that could be there. But I want you to know this, that I've thought deeply, way deeper than what I'm just gonna be talking to you about. I thought significantly deeper than that, about all of these things. And I also want you to know that what I'm gonna be sharing with you is coming from a heart of love. I know that many of you have probably access numbers of different things whether that's articles that you've read or people that you've listened to, or other pastors who've told you some stuff, maybe you've listened to online or whatever, and that's all perfectly fine. Here's what I want you to know though. I'm your pastor. And I'm accountable before the Lord as to how I lead and how I teach and my love for you. And so you may hear a bunch of other things from a bunch of other places, but know this. They're not your pastor. Your pastor is standing before you who loves you and who wants you to learn to walk with Jesus and to think with the mind of Christ. And that's what I want us to do together today. I also am not trying to create a political rally in here. So I'm not looking for applause lines. I'm not looking for those kinds of things. I just want us to learn and to grow together in the likeness of Jesus Everybody cool? We good? All right, so with that. All right, some of you're clapping. Okay cool. So with that, with that let's dive in and let's see what we can learn about how can we be faithful to Jesus, and maybe faithful to other people with our vote or how we conduct ourselves in an election season. I've got more to say than I'll have time to be able to say it, but let me just start here because this is the first place that I believe that we need to start about how we can be faithful and it's this. We've gotta be faithful to the truth of God. That's where we begin. We have to be faithful to the truth of God. Did you notice I paused a few moments ago when I was reading Jesus' words. When he was talking about the Holy spirit, he called the Holy spirit, the spirit of truth. You see, if the spirit of God is going to in our lives, allow us to access the life of God in terms of faithfulness, that faithfulness is going to be tethered to the truth because that's who God is. The spirit is the spirit of truth. And in fact, when those of us who do what I do who are elders and leaders and pastors and teachers, we have a responsibility that we stay faithful to the faithful word of God. In fact, Paul told Titus that very thing. He said this in chapter one, verse nine. He said, "You must as an elder hold firmly the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict it." So I have a responsibility to make sure that as doing what God's called me to do and the calling placed upon my life that I do that in such a way that I am faithful to the truth of God. Now that said, and I know that there's no argument from anybody there. Being faithful to the truth of God when we come to an election season and we come to voting can be a little more complex as maybe you've tried to find out or figure out, because one thing that we could all say as the people of God is that no party has a corner on all of the truth. Everybody okay? No party has a corner on all of the truth. Some of you are going, well. No party has a corner on all of the truth, right? There may be some platforms that have more of the truth of God related to other party platforms or issues, that certainly can be true, but no party has a corner on all of that, which makes it sometimes somewhat complex for us. So what do we do? Well, we have to at least... Here's what I would recommend. I would recommend that when we vote, and I realize some people have already voted. But we have a tendency here to let the word of God dictate what we talk about and when we talk about it, and this is where we are, we're today on faithfulness and this is a perfect opportunity to apply, right? Last week, wasn't as good an opportunity to apply. We applied it in different ways. This week is a better week to do that. But if we do that, how then do we look at the idea of our faithfulness to the truth of the word of God? And we look at that in terms of how we vote. Well, what I would suggest to you is that we learn from Jesus something, and that's this. We have to be able to wait or to prioritize some of the issues that we're all dealing with, and how we bring the truth of God to light in those issues. Jesus said something really unique to the Pharisees when he was talking to them, remember they were experts in the law of God and the law of God is good. The whole of the law of God is good. They were experts in the law of God. Jesus said this to them. He said, "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices, mint, dill, and cumin. But you have neglected the more important," or that can be translated. "The weightier matters of the law, justice, mercy, and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter without neglecting the former." Now here Jesus, what he's saying is, everything that I've given you in the law I've given to you for your benefit, but you've taken some of those pieces. You've given a 10th of... You go all the way down to your spices. You've given a 10th of your possessions. You go all the way down to like dill and paprika and sage, right? You're getting all the way down there. And you're giving a 10th of that, by the way he said, "Perfectly good, I'm glad that you're doing that. It's establishing that God is the owner. You're not the owner, that's good. But you did that and neglected the weightier matters of justice and mercy and faithfulness. And that's not what you should do." In other words, if you were gonna miss in one of those directions, don't miss in the direction of justice and mercy and faithfulness, right? And so Jesus is not saying that the other things are unimportant. He's saying that some things are weightier than others. And I think we have to understand that. So if that's the case and we're gonna be faithful to the truth of God, can we prioritize an issue or issues above other issues? Well, certainly we can, right? Can one issue disqualify somebody from receiving my vote? That's a fair question to ask, isn't it? Well, let me give you a thought experiment and you tell me, I don't want you to put your hand up in the air or call out anything. I'm certainly not trying to embarrass anybody, but let's just say for a moment candidate A whether it's a, he or she, it doesn't matter. And this isn't code for a particular party, all right? There's no R or D in here, right? Or independent. Candidate A aligns with you perfectly on economic policy, aligns with you perfectly on foreign policy, aligns with you perfectly on healthcare policy, aligns with you perfectly on education policy, but as a part of their platform, they are radically pro-sex trafficking. Are you voting for them? Are you voting for them? 'Cause in your mind, you're going to go, pro-sex driving. And you're like, yeah, he's got a full detailed plan. Or she's got a full, detailed plan on their website of how we're going to sex traffic people. And you love their economic plan. You love their foreign policy plan. You love their healthcare plan. You love their education plan. And you see that. And you're thinking that rages against everything the truth of God says. That people are created in the image of God, that they should be dealt with with dignity, that God has talked about, not oppressing those who are weak among us, that we should actually be advocating for them as opposed to seeing them oppressed in such a way, that this just rages against the truth. So would you vote for that candidate? The likelihood is you're probably in your mind going, Ah, no, no, I am not voting for the pro-sex trafficking candidate, right? Because I can agree to disagree on some economic policy, and I can agree to disagree on some foreign policy. And I can agree to disagree on some healthcare policy, and I can agree to disagree on some other educational choices and all that kind of stuff, but this just flies in the face of the truth of God. So you can see that theoretically there are some issues that if we weighted them in such high degrees, that they could make us say to ourselves, I simply can't do that. And we should not stand in judgment over people who because of that conviction chooses that direction. I wish more people would consider abortion when it comes to that. Because what we have is we have something extraordinarily awful that we, as a people, and there are many people that say that singular issue drives them in a certain direction, or at least drives them away from a certain direction. And just because you may have a single issue that you raise to the level of weightier than the others, does not by itself mean that you are necessarily voting for the other candidate. I'll get to that in just a moment. It certainly could mean that. But it doesn't have to mean that, and I'll get to that in just a moment. We also have to prioritize and weight things fairly. So if we're gonna be faithful to the truth of God, we have to be able to take the truth of God and make that fair in the way that we apply it. For instance, using the same idea that we were talking about. I was reading an article by Jonathan Lehman who was chronicling dinner party that he was at, and he was with a christian college professor. And she was talking about how she is pro-life, but she's liberal in her politics. Okay, fair enough. People can arrive at that conclusion. I'm not taking issue with that. I have friends that are in that space as well. The problem however, was how she defined her rationale in getting there. And here's what I'm saying, I'm using it as an illustration for us to make sure that we weigh things properly. So for instance, her idea was this, to be pro-life you can't have this contradiction between being anti-abortion but pro-capital punishment, pro-death penalty, right? And so they'll say and here was her rationale as he reported it. Her rationale was, since one kind of group of people are anti-abortion but they are pro-capital punishment. Those things basically wash each other out and I just don't concern myself with those things and I move on to other issues. Here's the problem with that, since about the mid 1970s, if you were to look at how many people have been criminally executed by the state, and I'm talking about the whole of the nation, the arm of the government, criminally executed for whatever they've done, the numbers a little over 1500 people since the mid 70s, okay? Now, is it possible that some of those people were executed wrongly. That is possible. That is possible. And Christians ought to be the first ones to say, if that were the case that's unjust and we need to look at that. And there are arguments to be made from a Christian perspective that argue against capital punishment but there are also Christian arguments that people make that are for capital punishment. I'm not here to debate that today. What I'm trying to get you to understand is this, let's just say for a moment that over 1500 of these people since the 1970s have been executed. And let's say for just a moment for the sake of argument, that every single one of them were executed wrongly. That would be horrific. That would be tragic. Does anybody disagree? That would be tragic if they were executed wrongly. Over 1500 people. In that same timeframe from the 70s, 60 million babies have been aborted, mostly out of convenience. These are not the same. And for us to be able to weigh matters truthfully, we have to weigh them truthfully, we would be the first as believers to stand against the tragic loss of life of people who are wrongly convicted and then put to death. That should not be. Nor should we stand... As well we should stand against seeing people, babies that cannot speak for themselves being aborted out of convenience. These things while both are egregious are not the same in terms of magnitude. And that's why we have to be a people that weighs things fairly. Proverbs 11:1 says this, "The Lord detests dishonest scales, but accurate weights find favor with him." That's why we have to be a people who apply our minds to this idea significantly, all right? Now let me ask you another question in terms of how we weight things. Does character matter? When we place our vote, if we're gonna be faithful to the truth of God, does character in a candidate matter? You better believe it does. And the reason it does is because what God has said about how humanity is supposed to function. And so we have to look at character. Now I realized that the pragmatists among us make a fair argument about this. That policy is more important than personality. That's certainly true if we're talking about weighing things, that a platform that individuals hold is more important than the single individual themself. But if we are doing that kind of idea to try and either wipe away or free our conscience or justify bad character, that's a mistake for the believer, that's a mistake because character does matter. If someone is running for president or governor, or whatever it may be, if they're a liar that matters. If they steal they're a thief, that matters, 'cause it affects everything else, right? If they've been known to be corrupt and involved in corruption, that matters. If they have a record where they said, "This is what I'll do if you elect me and they didn't do those things, that matters, as it does, if they said they would do them and they did them, that also matters, right? We have to be able to value character because we are the people of God. What we can't do is we can't just write it off because I'll pull the christian community back into the 90s in a time where they were saying that nothing else mattered, but character in the president. That tune shouldn't change at any point, characters should always matter. And again, as you heard me say, if we're weighing a whole of policy over one single individual, I would agree that as we apply the truth of God, that it's more important to understand policy in its hole than it is singularly just the person. But character matters because it affects the nature of an entire country. If you have leaders who are of really poor character, it affects the entire ethos of a nation. It doesn't mean that I look at someone that's... Regardless of who that may be. Someone in power, whether it's a governor or Senator or a president, or a vice-president or whatever. If I were to look at them and go, that's bad character. So I'm gonna act like them. Well, I'm not gonna do that, right? But we still know that sometimes it brings an ethos with it. When you look at what happened with Israel, and you look at some of the nature of how they had leaders at times that were of bad character, listen to what God said through the prophet Micah, in fact. In Micah chapter 7, "The faithful have been swept from the land." That's never a good statement, is it? Not one upright person remains. Everyone lies in wait to shed blood. They hunt each other with nets. Both hands are skilled in doing evil. Listen to this, the ruler demands gifts, corrupt. The judge accepts bribes, corrupt. The powerful dictate what they desire. They all conspire together. That kind of leadership in a nation is going to make for a corruption of the values of the nation and does not foster things that you want to be able to see. So it does actually matter. how we weight all of this matters. Let me give you another way that we have to weight in the application of the truth of the word of God. We have to weight that when it comes to morally permissible laws versus unjust laws, there's a difference in those things. Here's the difference, with morally permissible laws. They could end up with a bad outcome, that could happen. So for instance, it's morally permissible for a government to create a social safety net for people, that's more morally permissible to do. Could it have a bad outcome? Well, yes, if you argued that that social safety net continued to keep people in poverty, as opposed to releasing it from them, then that could be a bad outcome, right? I'm not saying that is or is not the case, but that could be a bad outcome of a morally permissible law. But then you've got over here laws that are just unjust on their face. If I walked you back a few decades, there were no law, listen, you could red line people in lending. Those who know their way around these things, know what I'm talking about. What that meant was this. You could discriminate and say, because of someone's color and where they live in their zip code, I will not lend to them. Even if they had the ability to receive the loan. You could do those things. Those are things that are unjust on their face, right? And of course, now, if we look at it that was outlawed by the way, thank God. But then you get the predatory lending that still happens from time to time, that's unjust on its face. So you have to look at things that would be just completely unjust, right? Giving a child the permission to have sex reassignment surgery and nothing their parents could do about it would be as unjust as I could imagine. Do you think a ten-year-old has the ability to make those kinds of decisions? What are we doing to our children? That's egregious. We have to stand against things that are unjust in that regard, right? And there's a difference between morally permissible that may have about outcome and unjust. Listen to what Isaiah chapter 10 says, "Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless." God has something to say about that level of injustice.

Let me give you a second, though. We've gotta be faithful to our conscience. We gotta be faithful to our conscience. Let me explain what I mean by that. Believers have consciouses that are being shaped more and more by the spirit of God to help form within us the mind of Christ, okay? Now that being said, here's what I know. I know that every believer is in a different place in their maturity and their growth and the formation of that conscience. I know this. This is a part of what sanctification looks like. This is part of what growth in faith looks like. People are in different spaces, right? Maybe some people are really young in that. Some people are kind of, have been on the road for a little while with Jesus. There's other people who've matured significantly in that regard. And so what do we do? Well, we wanna vote in ways that don't violate the spirit-given conscience, as he is forming the mind of Christ in us. We don't wanna do that. Now, Paul actually had to address this issue in Rome because there were believers there who were wrestling over whether or not they would eat meat that was sacrificed to idols or whether they wouldn't. And there were others who were not gonna drink this because it may be used as a sacrifice and others who would, and there were some that viewed these certain days as sacred and holy, and others who said, "No, it's no big deal now in Christ or whatever." And so you have this... You've got this issue, right? Listen to how Paul addresses it in Romans 14, he said, "Accept the one whose faith is weak without quarreling over disputable matters. One person's faith allows them to eat anything. But another whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not. And the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To their own master servant stand or fall. And they will stand for the Lord is able to make them stand. One person considers one day more sacred than another, another considers everyday alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. This is the conscience issue here, whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does So to the Lord, for they give thanks to God. And whoever abstains does so to the Lord, and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives for ourselves alone. And none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. You then why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt, for we will all stand before God's judgment seat. It is written, "'As surely as I live,' says the Lord, 'every knee will bow before me. Every tongue will acknowledge God.'" So then each of us will give an account of ourselves to God. Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of her brother or sister. That's the truth of God, that we need to be able to apply here. What am I saying there? Well, this truth actually feels weightier for me every single election it seems, it's because I recognize what my vote does. See one of the things that we have to realize is that we're morally culpable in our voting. Somebody has asked me before, they said, "Is there any way I can vote without sinning?" I thought to myself, nope, but I didn't say it exactly like that, but probably that's true. To some degree, we are morally culpable. Now if you're thinking to yourself, well, how is that the case? Very simple. You may vote for candidate A over here and you love A, B, C and D of their policies and you hate E, guess what? Your vote doesn't care. Your vote as an actual entity is dumb. It doesn't have a mind of its own. You simply vote. Some have said to me, well, I'm actually not voting for candidate B. I'm voting against candidate A. You can't do that. You can do that in your mind with mental gymnastics but you can't actually do that. You can't vote no in an election, you only can vote yes. And so when you do, you are saying I give you the full agency to do what you're going to do. Now sometimes you have to swallow hard and go, I'm doing that because I think you're gonna do more things that I would approve of, than these things, or you're gonna do more things that I approve of than these things. I got it. But we are all to some degree morally culpable. Now our motive matters before God and to our and sisters in Christ, but it doesn't matter to our vote because it's dumb. It's just, you just said I'm voting for so-and-so. But what we can't do is we cannot violate our consciences in the process. So some people struggle so much with their conscience in this regard that they choose instead of voting for one of the two political party candidates they vote for a third-party candidate, or they write in someone that they vote for, or they don't vote for the presidential candidates but they vote down-ballot the rest of the way, or they choose not to vote. There are some denominations by the way, christian denominations, brothers and sisters in Christ who actually choose not to engage in the political process at all. The Anabaptists the Mennonites, they don't engage at all. But it's not our responsibility to judge them for that. Because the question that may come up in our minds or in our heads is this, does God require us to vote? Is that our Christian duty to vote? Are we being unfaithful to God if we don't vote. I would answer that pretty simply but I'd also give some clarifying to that. And it's this, of course we would never say that it is our Christian duty to vote. We couldn't say that. Number one, we simply don't have that stated for us in the word of God, nor would that be true of our brothers and sisters in Christ, in some other parts of the world who can't vote for anyone at any time for any reason, because they're in oppressive regimes. So if it's Christian duty, that means it's incumbent upon everybody everywhere. And that certainly can't be the case. It's also not the case for the audience of the original writing of the text of the new Testament either because they were under the oppression of Rome, and they weren't getting a say in who the Caesar was, the Caesar was just telling them what they were gonna do, right? So is it our Christian duty. No, but here's what I would say. I would say that the fact that those of us believers who live in North America and in other parts of the free world, that freedom is a gift of grace. And because of that grace, we have a stewardship as the people of God to demonstrate the stewardship of our grace for the glory of God and for the good of our neighbor. So generally speaking, I would encourage people to engage that generally speaking, because of that idea of grace. But there are brothers and sisters in Christ, other pastors and leaders who don't ascribe to this same thinking that I'm about to share with you, but based upon what Romans 14 teaches us, I don't believe that God gives me the right to be able to tell you what to do with your vote if there is more than one permissible option, if there was not more than one permissible option for instance, I just told you a number, you can vote for candidate A, you can vote for candidate B. You can vote for those candidates, vote down ballot. You can vote for a third party. You can write in someone, you cannot vote. All of those are morally permissible options that God is not saying, you cannot do this. And you cannot do that. If that is true, then I don't believe that I have the right to violate or to play Holy spirit in the lives of God's people, because you're Jesus' people. You're his people. You're not my people. I'm your pastor, yes. Jesus is the head of this church. You're his people. And I don't believe that I have the right to be able to do that. What I do have the right to do is help you think like a Christian, help you think like somebody who's been transformed in mind by the spirit of Christ. Why don't I tell people what to do? Here's why, because to your own master, you stand or fall. This is not for me an issue of judgment because there are some people that actually share the same outcome desire, but wanna get there a different way. And I have to be okay with that, and be able to say it's not where I would go, but I understand how you're getting there. And I have to appreciate, they may be in a different place in their journey than I am in mine. And as a result, I'm not standing in judgment over them. So if we wanna be faithful to God and faithful with our vote, we've gotta be faithful to the truth of God. We've gotta be faithful to our conscience. Thirdly, we need to be faithful to our neighbor. This is the heartbeat of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. You remember Jesus' statement when he was asked a question, here it is in Matthew 22, the man asked, "Teacher what is the greatest commandment in the law?" And Jesus said, "Love the Lord your God, with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind this is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it, love your neighbor as yourself." Listen, if you wanna be faithful to Jesus with your vote and during this time in election process, can you say I wanna vote in the best interest of my children? Yes, you can. But you also must say, what will my vote look like in the best interest of all children? Can you vote based on what's best for your neighborhood? Yes, but you also need to vote on what's best for everyone's neighborhood. Can you vote for what's best for your job? Yes, but you also must vote based on what's best for everybody's job. For your nation? Yes, but what about for every nation? Yes, see, this is fundamentally what it looks like for believers to think Christianly and with the mind of Christ. And fourthly, I would tell you this, we also need to be faithful to the kingdom of God. Here's what I've found. I found that people can often see our chief affections by what most energizes or emotionally moves us. That people can often see our greatest or chief affections by what most energizes or emotionally moves us. When Jesus was talking to a group of people who were oppressed, they were Galileans and they were oppressed by Rome. And they were concerned about how am I gonna eat? I don't know if I'm gonna be able to buy clothes. This oppression is crazy. Here's what Jesus said to them in Matthew chapter six, "Don't worry saying, 'what shall we eat, or what shall we drink? Or what shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things and your heavenly father knows that you need them, but seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Can I get an amen? Each day has enough trouble of its own. You see, for us to be kingdom thinkers, listen to what Jesus was saying to these people. Here's what he was saying. "Don't spend all of your energy. I realize you're gonna spend some, don't spend all of your energy worrying about your critical climate. Know that you have a King, and you have a kingdom, and your Father knows what you need and how to provide it for you." This is what he said to them, by the way, Jesus, didn't just say these things. He actually modeled them. He wasn't just telling them, "Hey, don't get so uptight." He actually modeled it. He was asked a question one time about taxes. Should you pay taxes to Caesar or not? And you know what Jesus did. He answered it brilliantly and moved on. He didn't go into a screed about the unjust taxation of Caesar. He could have maybe even fairly, but he didn't. He moved on. When he found out that Herod was tracking him down and slightly trying to trap Jesus, listen to how Jesus responded to that in Luke chapter 13, he replied, "Go tell that Fox," He called Herod a Fox, by the way. Which wasn't the humanizing and wasn't demonizing. He was basically talking about how he's trying to be sly and wiley. "Go tell that Fox, I will keep on driving out demons and healing people today and tomorrow. And on the third day, I will reach my goal. In any case, I must press on today and tomorrow and the next day, for surely no prophet can die outside of Jerusalem." You know what he said? I've got kingdom business to do, you just tell him I'm gonna be about that business. How about when Jesus stood in front of Pilate, and Pilate was saying, "I've got the power to kill you. I've got the power to do whatever I want with you. Here's what Jesus... Listen to this interchange between Jesus and Pilate, Pilate came back inside and he summoned Jesus and he said, "Are you the King of the Jews?" "Is that your own idea," Jesus asked, "or did others talk to you about me?" "Am I a Jew?" Pilate said. Your own people and chief priest handed you over to me. What is it you've done? Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent any arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place." Jesus, even in front of such authority as Pilate is saying all of your political stuff, it doesn't scare me. I've got a different kingdom. That's where my allegiance lies. And I know what all of that looks like. Isn't it interesting? Pilate didn't cause Jesus to sweat drops of blood. Jesus was concerned about fulfilling the mission of the Father. And see now how Jesus not only taught, but how he acted. He acted like he had a sovereign Father who had an indestructible kingdom, that no matter what else happened in the earthly political sphere, Jesus knew where his confidence was, in the faithful God who sent him on this mission. So I would just say to each of us, listen. Even if things go awry over the next number of decades, and our religious liberties are stripped away. I hope they're not. And we become tremendously persecuted people and it becomes an anti-Christian cinnamon in the world. And I hope it doesn't. But even if it did, we still have a kingdom. And we still have a King, even if all of that was stripped away. You see it's that truth that compels me when we talk about the fruit of the spirit working faithfulness in us, because what I wanna see my heart is, is that we, the people of God prioritize long-term faithful witness to Jesus over short-term political victories. That's what my hope is for us. Because kingdoms will come and go. I'm not suggesting be disengaged, be engaged, share your thoughts, convince other people, but do so with grace, do so in ways that would model the character and the life of Jesus. But in so doing don't lose, we cannot lose our prophetic witness. The people of God cannot be known simply as the people of a party. We must be people who continue to hold on to our prophetic witness that can speak truth to whomever is in power. Regardless of their affiliation, whether donkey or elephant. It makes no difference. We must preserve our prophetic witness. And I wish that we would think about our vote and how we handle ourselves in an election, not what the short-term window of how we win, but the long-term window of we'll stand before the judgment seat of Jesus and give an account for what we've done and how we've done it. That is what I want us to lean toward. Because when Paul talks about our faithfulness being a part of the life of God, that means it actually comes from God's own life. I think about it this way. When God created humanity out of love, humanity fell into sin, and everything was kind of just damaged and broken and messed up. And then God said to the woman Eve, he said, "I'm gonna make a promise." And here it is, "Through your offspring, your offspring is going to crush the head of the enemy. This enemy that came and tempted you, this enemy that wants to wreak havoc in the world. From you, I know you've sinned. I know you're broken. I know it's a mess but from your offspring is going to come the one who is going to crush the head of the enemy." So people began to live their lives, rebel against God, but God tapped on the shoulder a man named Abraham and began to forward his promise through Abraham. That through you, through your seed, I'm gonna continue on this promise that I made. Through Abraham came the nation of Israel. And even though Israel so often failed, they didn't listen. They were ruled by corrupt judges and oftentimes corrupt Kings and rejected the prophets. God still said, "I'm gonna be faithful." And in a small town called Bethlehem, Jesus was born who was the living, breathing faithfulness of the promise of God. The living, breathing faithfulness of the promise of God. And God the faithful one who made a promise and who's kept it in the person of Jesus, now puts the faithful son of God over the people of God to rule as the faithful one. Listen to why Hebrews 3 says, it says, "Therefore, holy brothers and sisters who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest. He was faithful to the one who appointed him just as Moses was faithful in all God's house. Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. For every house is built by someone. But God is the builder of everything. Moses was faithful as a servant in all God's house bearing witness to what would be spoken by God in the future. But Christ is faithful as the son over God's house. And we are his house. If indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory." Listen to this, the faithful God makes good on his faithfulness through the son. The son is faithful and has been appointed over God's house, which is the people of God. We are God's house. So listen carefully. For us to live filled with the spirit of God and modeling the character of God. It's going to mean that we are faithful in the house of God, not only to God, but to God's people. In other words don't damage the house. Don't damage the house. The faithful one has been established over us. Earthly politics should not divide the people of God. Because we have a kingdom, and we have one who is faithful over all of God's house. Can we as brothers and sisters press on one another? Can we as brothers and sisters wrestle through their truth? Absolutely, we absolutely can do that. But we cannot divide over this, because if we walk filled with the spirit, fruit of the spirit is faithfulness, faithfulness to God, faithfulness to one another. Why do we need to be faithful to one another? We need to be faithful to one another so that the enemy doesn't get a foothold in the house of God. We need to be faithful to one another. So that the world, when the world looks at us does not see a tribalism around political identity but sees a faithful savior over a faithful people who are faithful to him and faithful to one another. We need the world to look at our church, and the church and say this, "They are not for Biden. They are not for Trump. They are for Jesus." That's who they are for. Listen, I'm not saying we can't engage. I'm not saying that there may be better choices than other ones. I'm not saying any of those things. What I'm saying is, what we need to be is make sure that we do not corrupt the prophetic witness that we have in the world by marrying that to a political party.

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