Peace and the Government
Join with me in prayer, as we prepare our hearts for this sermon… Father, we ask that you grant us peace now. We ask that you would help us to submit to you in every area of our life. We pray that Jesus Christ should be lifted high and exalted through this sermon, and that as He is lifted up, He would draw all these people to Himself, Lord. We asked this in your precious name. Amen.
Well, I thought it fit. Even though I was really excited about our next sermon, the Exodus series, to spend a couple weeks trying to minister to your heart regarding the election season, my goal in the next couple of sermons has very little to do about who you would vote for and more to do about trying to help you glorify God over these next couple of weeks and maybe moving forward from that, so that’s what I’m offering you today. Anyone else at this point, sick and tired of all the political ads on TV… Social media. Yeah. Okay, they’re out there and they’re not. Anyone else tired about how conversations about politics always turn into extreme predictions or super emotionally charged like back and forth.
Our government structure matters. There’s no doubt about it. And we’re gonna talk about why it matters in a moment, and I know that many of us are reared by the constant pressure of the political conversation and that political conversation, that constant pressure and just the length of it, it feels like this election season has been going on for like three years now. Doesn’t it? It has a way of beginning to rob us of peace. Peace in this kind of environment is rare. Amen?
Peace toward any kind of authority, especially authority you don’t agree with is rare. Amen? It’s supernatural. It’s not normal. It can only come from God. Therefore, I would tell you I want you to hear me, one of the greatest markers today, right now, and especially for these next few weeks and maybe on after that, one of the greatest markers of Christians right now, of those who know God will be their peace. As Christians, we know that God is sovereign and he’s above the government, that’s another good place to say Amen. He’s above any government. Many nations have risen and fallen throughout world history, but Jesus has always still been Lord and His purposes have never been frustrated. Right. Still the pressure of this political climate puts on us, it normally results in this negative response, now you and I are all wired differently, so the pressure that it puts on us is going to result in different kinds of responses, and I think based off of my observation, of you as your pastor, and my observation of my own soul, I’ve come up with four ways that we negatively respond to the political season that we’re in right now, four ways.
And they all begin with A. Here they are. Addiction, anger, anxiety, and apathy. Now, here’s what I want you to do, if you’re a note taker addiction, anger, anxiety and apathy. What I want you to do, I want you to circle the one that you know is yours, now, if you’re not a note taker today… That’s okay. I want you to mentally circle, in fact, if you need to, you can go like this right now to remember that one… Okay, what is the one that you tend towards during the season.
What is your default mode when you feel the pressure of politics, which one of those four is it?
Now, most of us will have one main one, and then one or two kind of sub… Main ones, alright. And I want to encourage you to consider these four. That will be the kind of the structure of this sermon. Now, look specifically at Chapter 19 of John and verse 11. This is gonna be our sermon text for the morning. Chapter 19, verse 11, Jesus answers, Pilot, after he says, Do you not know that I have authority to release you or crucify you? Jesus says, You would have no authority over me at all, unless it had been given to you from above. I want you to see that you would have no authority at all unless it had been given to you from above. Notice two things about what Jesus says here. The first thing is that he recognizes that all authority is on loan from God. I want you to hear that all authority is on loan from God, that means every single political leader out there has authority, and yes, they might have been voted in through a Democratic representative process, but they still ultimately were given that position by God. That means that every single teacher in their classroom has authority given to them by God, that means that you parents out here today, the authority that you have is not your own… It’s on loan from God. If you’re a boss today or if you know you’re a worker and you have a boss above you, that boss has authority from God, it’s not theirs, they don’t own it. God owns it. Every single one. Now, I want you to hear this, this is really important because our temptation really quick is then to be like, But what if I don’t agree with their authority? What if I don’t like their authority, what if I think their authority is wicked and unrighteous, what if I think that the policies they may enact is wicked?
Remember when Jesus said this… What is the context of this story? When Jesus says this, he’s staring the man who has the authority and is about to crucify him, he’s staring him in the eyes when he says it. Do you think that that edict was wicked, unrighteous, maybe the most wicked of all… To crucify the Son of God. So that’s the first thing I know our tendancy is to be like, Well, what if they’re wicked? And the Bible just frankly never makes an excuse throughout the entirety of Scripture, even wicked rulers have their authority given to them by God, and we as believers have a responsibility to recognize that authority on loan from God and to follow them as much as we can. Whether we believe them or not. That’s number one, number two, I want you to just notice it, I think it comes through in the text, there’s no specific word, but I just want you to notice the feel of that moment, Jesus has been wrongfully accused, has had a kangaroo court session held against him, false witnesses are brought against him and he’s about to be wrongly condemned to that he knows all of that.
But what comes through and his attitude in the text… Is it not peace? Is it not just a confidence, a serenity? He’s just… Okay, he trusts God.
Read that text again, you would have no authority over me at all, unless it had been given to you from above. And yet he knows what that authority is about to decide about his fate. He’s so in control, he knows God is in control. If he was any other man, he might have been anxious, if he was any other man, he might have been angry at the unfairness of the trial, if he was any other man, he might have linked down and given up if he was any other man, he might have bartered his integrity with Pilate to get out, but he was not any other man. He responded with peace. To that authority.
Jesus went to the cross to suffer and die for sinners like you and me, who struggle with anger towards authority, with anxiety towards authority, who struggle with being addicted and idolatrous about politics, who struggle with apathy towards God’s good gifts, including the government.
He suffers and dies on the cross to free sinners like you and me from that sin, so that we could be free from that, and then he rises again from the dead. And what does he say to the disciples? He says, All authority under heaven is given to me. And what does he say? You go make disciples.
I could preach a whole sermon about that right now, and I think it could be super applicable. Sometimes you and I get so caught up in all these other things and we just need to recognize. God has all authority, Christ has all authority. My job is to go make disciples, not to be an advantage list for my party, political party, but an evangelist for Jesus Christ. So the first one I wanna talk about this morning is the response, the negative response that we normally have is the response of addiction, addiction, this is those who might obsess about the political process.
The many, many articles that are being put out there today, and the many many TV segments that are being put out there today are to feed those who are addicted to this process, this political process, if you find yourself constantly obsessing about it, thinking about how you can argue for your point of view, if you find yourself listening and gathering every little bit of information you can get about it and not being able to think about anything else, you might be addicted and you might find that you are actually trusting in something other than God. Now, here’s what I would say, it’s really easy to recognize a drug addict… Not really easy, but it is easy to recognize a drug addict, it’s easy to recognize somebody who is addicted to social media, it’s easy to recognize somebody who might be addicted to video games, it’s a lot harder when it’s an addiction to something that is important. Social media is not… Yeah. No events there. Okay, social media is not… Your video games are not… There are things that are not important, but something like the political process in our country is important, so it’s harder to identify or addicted to that now, here’s a sure-fire way to identify, if somebody’s addicted to something, Here it is. You ready for it? Challenge it and see how they respond. Challenge it and see how they respond.
Hey, do you think maybe you should put away the phone for a little while, how do they respond to… They reason what you are now, I’m just gonna be on it for a little while longer, Do they argue with you? Oh, I haven’t even been out that longer. You’re so silly. I can’t believe you think it’s silly, or do they get mad at you to they get sad and move, how do they respond to that thing, that they respond to that thing with an extreme… Sinful, typically sinful, but just an extreme response, you know that person might be addicted to it, ’cause you’re taking away their baby.
So if I bring up a suggestion to you, Hey, maybe we should lay off politics, maybe you should cut out how much you’re consuming of it, if the response is, to me, Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute. I’m only on how about I only do this many segments a day, how about I only follow these people on Twitter now to get my news and updates on pop political things, if they start reasoning with you, are they get angry and they say, you just don’t even care about America. There’s something there that needs to be examined.
If they are willing to sin to keep it, it is likely an idol, it is likely an idol.
So if someone gets angry or defensive when you address something, it is likely that that thing is an idol, idols are always extremely deceptive. Right. A drug addicts never thinks they’re a drug addict… Right. Yeah, a video game addict, as social media addict, whatever it is, they never think they’re addicted.
So it’s extremely deceptive. So you have to, with openness in your heart, consider these things, they’re like a Ponzi scheme that always promises a little more, if you just commit a little bit of your time, a little bit more of your energy, a little bit, you’re more of your emotion in your love and everything else, you just commit a little bit more, then it will finally deliver the trust and the security that you’re seeking, and what you will always find with an idol is it never delivers. No, no, no drug can deliver, no video game can deliver, no new snippet can deliver, none of those things will ultimately deliver you and give you the peace that you need from God the Father. The first response is, we often become obsessed about it… Are you obsessed today? It’s easy to happen, ’cause political news is everywhere, and there’s a hot take here and a hot take there, an extreme view here, extreme of you there, and it’s fun to think about and reason, but maybe we should back off and recognize God’s in control and then turn to him, for our security and our trust, instead of the addiction.
The second one that I wanna talk about is, is anger, anger, anger… This is probably the most common, if you turn, tune into… Well, any political conversation at all, I’ll just… Is that hyperbolic? I think it’s a little bit of an exaggeration, but pretty much any political conversation involves some level of anger. Right. Why is that? Where does anger come from? You ever ask that question? In political conversations. Where does it come from?
Well, people are just not being mature. Wow. Yes, the truth of the matter is, we get angry when we don’t get our way… That’s the core of it. Now, in a political conversation, it’s a little hard to pin down, for instance, if your person is not elected in a couple of weeks, will you be angry… You didn’t get your way. Or how about this in the conversation with someone, your way might be as subtle as you want to prove them wrong, improve yourself, right. So you’re willing to be angry… You did that. Ultimately, I have a question for you though, who are we angry with when it comes to politics?
Anger comes from a profound disrespect to God as He rules through imperfect governments… Hear that again. Anger comes from a profound disrespect to God as He rules through imperfect governments.
You might not have your way, and frankly your way might be right to… It is about right or wrong, that does matter, but you can hold the right view and yet still sin and respond inappropriately… Sinfully. Regarding the political discussion, What does James 4 say, where do the wars and the fights come from among you, is it not this that your passions are at war within you, your desire and do not have… So you fight and quarrel, you see that you want something, there’s a desire that’s being unmet in your heart, and it results in a fight with someone else. I hope, I hope, I hope that you as believers here today are not involved in that kind of political conversation, I hope that you’re marked instead with peace and trust in God and not sinful anger. If you find yourself angry and agitated because someone thinks differently than do about politics, then you should repent… The way that we often try to get false piece when we’re angry instead of repenting what we’ll often do is we’ll find people to have political conversations with that we know agrees with us, you know, you sit down in the living room or whatever, and you talk really loud back and forth about how unbelievable it is and how stupid everyone else is for not understanding what you understand, and you go back and forth until you’re both really just at peace and serene. Right, ’cause that’s what happens in those conversations. Right? Now, be sarcastic. That’s not what happens. You get angry and you think if you went back and forth about the conversation, you’ll feel better and it doesn’t make you feel better, it makes you more un-restful, it’s because you’re sending…
The path to peace is through repentance. The third one that we often see with negative responses is anxiety, and this is probably the one I would say that the political ads feed on most like… I’m not gonna do it, but I could pull up two political ads for each one of the presidential… Main presidential candidates right here, I could show him, and both of them would be attack at at least partially against the other person with fire explosions in the background and threatening that everything is gonna fall apart, like the world’s just just gonna stop spinning. If that person gets elected, right, and you’ll see this, and what are they playing on with that… Ask yourself the question, what are those campaigns playing on with, you’re playing on your fear, your anxiety… Now, it’s certainly true that who we elect, it has an impact on our world and in America, so I don’t wanna neglect that, and yet what they’re playing on the emotional response they’re driving to is they want to get you a frame, they want to get you anxious… This comes from a profound lack of trust that God is sovereign over all governments, anxiety is the feeling that replaces control when you feel helpless, I’m gonna say that again.
Anxiety is the feeling that replaces control, when you feel helpless, that moment when your person doesn’t get elected and you’re like, There’s nothing I can do, I feel helpless. What happens? I can’t be in control anymore, I don’t have any more say over it, so I’ll just feel anxious. In the vacuum of power is anxiety, that’s what we find in our hearts, so I fear what will happen. There’s a false peace that anxious people, I’ve counseled many of them, and I found it myself, there’s a false peace that many anxious anxious people face.
If you’re an anxious person today, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about if you’re not… This won’t make sense to you. Probably, it is diving deeper into the anxiety, there’s something about giving yourself over to the fears that in a weird way feels a little bit comforting, it’s not ultimately good for you, you know that it’s bad for you, it’s ultimately not trust the God, you know that… And yet, if you dive deeper into it, it almost feels a little better, not almost, not really, it’s like a good pain, if there is such a thing…
Anxious people, I want you to hear me. The Bible commands multiple times, do not be anxious about anything. Do not be anxious. Do not be afraid. Philippians chapter four is the primary one that I use in my own life. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with days giving, let your request be made known to God. And he goes on and he lists off several other ways to make sure you’re pursuing peace in your life, but the command is there, do not be anxious, do not be anxious, it’s not good for you, it is a profound lack of trust in God. Can I tell you something? That’s sin. You’re refusing to trust in a good God and instead you’re in a weird way trying to control your life by giving yourself over to the anxiety and the helplessness, and I wanna beg you, I wanna ask you instead, turn from that, repent from that and turn to trusting God, trusting the fact that God is the one who gives all authority, whether it’s your candidate or not, that get selected, God’s the one, and he’s ultimately control. And I can trust him. Turn to it. The fourth and final one is apathy, apathy. This comes from a lack of thankfulness for the gifts that God has given to us.
I really appreciated my dad’s Sunday school lesson this morning. We have an adult, Sunday school is and other kids. Classes throughout the building that occurs at 9:00 on Sunday morning. It was wonderful. It’s about Common Grace. You know what common grace is? Common Grace is not what we would call Salvation grace, the kind of grace that saves you from your sins and takes you to Heaven, common grace would be a more general grace, a grace that just gives you good gifts in the slight… So just the fact that you’re in America. America has so much prosperity and freedom is a gift from God, it’s a grace from God.
We could take off for that. We can appreciate that the jobs that you have, that the health that you have, everything in your life can in many ways be considered just a gift from God, a blessing from God, he’s such a good God, and He gives that freely, not just to believers, but to unbelievers too. Now, I want you to hear me. Now want you to hear this. An apathy comes when we don’t appreciate the common grace, the gift that God has given to us here for our government, this is the one… By the way, that I circle apathy, it’s mine.
It’s my struggle, ’cause I want to believe and understand that God has given me a good gift in this governmental system that we have, and I wanna appreciate it, and appreciating it means that I can’t just ignore it. Right, I can’t just choose not to vote, I can’t just choose to give up, I can’t just refuse to ever think about anything and never consider the ramifications of elections, I can’t do that, that’s apathy, it’s a profound lack of thanks, of thankfulness that leads me to not taking part in the gifts that God has given to me. It’s not okay. If I just don’t care. Here’s the false piece here, and this is where many of you find yourself… I’m not gonna have you raise your hands, but I’m sure many of you just don’t care about politics, you’re just tired of it, so you just decided to be apathetic towards it. I understand that, but here’s the thing, that the thinking is, if I don’t care, then nothing can rob me of peace, right? But the truth is, that true piece does not come from your apathy about things, true peace can only come from God, and if we’re in a right relationship with God, it means we are thankful for his gifts to us.
Peace toward any kind of authority is supernatural. Listen, Christians, if you’re here today, you’re a believer, if you have peace over the next few weeks, it will be one of the most miraculous things people will see for the next few years. It is that unusual, especially in our culture today, for people to have a serenity during the season, it’s hard to have peace toward authority, we don’t agree with, it’s hard to have peace toward wicked authority. It is not normal, it is not natural. Therefore, I wanna say one of the most important things you can do to demonstrate you know Christ, is to trust that all authority comes from God. It’s on loan from him. There is no greater place. Listen, there’s no greater place where God’s power, justice and goodness were displayed that on the cross. How did that happen? It happened through a wicked edict of a man named Pontus pilot. There the Son of God was perfectly at peace. Trusting the father, he just trusted that God had this. They’re the Son of God, not only paid the penalty for the anger, the anxiety, the apathy, the addiction, the idolatry that you have in your life toward authority, but he actually also gave us the example to follow, how do we live under authority that we don’t agree with? You showed us it. By the way, Peter picks up on this, if you wanna read it, 1 Peter Chapter 3, Peter talks about this, and he applies it directly to the government, and then He rose again after three days and he said, All authority is given to me.
I want you to encourage you to focus on a few attributes in your relationship with God, focus on a few attributes during this next few weeks… Okay, my concern for you as people of God, as people here at Redeemer, is that you would respond righteously during the season, and that’s gonna mean you trust God. So here’s a few attributes I think is important for you to focus on biblically, number one is gonna be just your trust, your peace. Are you going to trust that God’s got this…
Do your part. Don’t be apathetic, it doesn’t mean you let go and you just give up and you ignore it, No, you take your part and the good gifts God has given to you, but you need to just trust that God’s got this… That’s number one.
Number two, I want to encourage you, there’s actually a couple of words in the New Testament that have kind of generally the same meaning, they’re difficult to translate in English, but essentially they mean level-headed ness.
Sometimes they’re translated reasonableness, sometimes the translated wisdom in the Bible, but essentially, they mean a level-head in this, let’s not be prone to extremes, let’s not be prone to exaggerations, let’s not be prone to attacks in the coming weeks. Is Be level-headed.
Christians are neither overly optimistic nor overly pessimistic about the government and about the way this world goes, Why, while they’re not overly optimistic because they know that they’re still sin in this world, and there are still many, many people who have sin that is un-repented of in their heart and they know that sin left unchecked is going to always take and drag people down further and further, so they know that no matter how hard they try with governmental systems or whatever, they’ll never create a utopia. And yet, Christians are also not overly pessimistic, you wanna know why, ’cause they have a hope, they have a hope that one day God will make all things right, and they have a hope and a recognition that we can today… Use the good gifts that God has given to us to try to bring about as much goodness as we can, so we’re neither overly optimistic or overly pessimistic were level… Philippians 4 is one of the examples, that passage that I talked about right before the… Do not be anxious about anything. Philippian 4 says, Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I will say rejoice, always, including over the next few weeks for juice in the Lord. Not in your candidates. In the Lord. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. That’s the word. Is your level-headed-ness, your serenity over the next few weeks gonna be known to those around you or you can have a confidence in Christ? And the third one is love is love. You’ll know my disciples, by your love.
When we don’t have peace in our heart, we have a tendency to take it out on others. Why? Because misery loves what? Company. Yeah, so when we don’t have peace, when we’re angry in our heart, we’re gonna take it out on a… No, we’re gonna try to make them twist it up inside, make them miserable or anxious or angry back, we’re gonna try to inflict our will on others, and that is not what God calls us to.
Listen, you as a people here at Redeemer, we have so much more in common than being of the same political group, having the same political standings, we may have some of those, but that’s not why we gather here today, we gather here today because of a common love for Jesus Christ, we gather here today because of the bond that we have in the Spirit, we gather here today because of a political party. One of the greatest acts of peace that Christ ever performed on this Earth was to bring together as part of his core group of disciples, a man named Simon and a man named Matthew, do you know about those two men… Do you know what Simon was titled? Simon the zealot, you know what a sell it was in that time. It was the most extreme, it would be a domestic terrorist in today’s day and age, the most extreme political stances, we’re gonna assassinate people… The Roman rulers. We’re gonna assassinate Jews. That side with the Roman rulers. Guess what? Jews sided with the Roman rulers. Tax collectors. Guess what, Matthew was, God brought two people from completely, way further than the two parties in America’s political system, way farther apart, then those two.
He brought those two together. What a miraculous act of peace. They were united under Christ’s Lordship, not by their common belief about how they should proceed under the Roman rule. I want to ask you is not Christ-worthy? Is not Christ worthy of each of us loving one another, uniting together, bowing down before Him as He sits on His throne, the one who has all authority, regardless of our background, regardless of our political views, is not he worthy of our lives and our praises together? And our common love for one another… He absolutely is. He absolutely is.
We’re gonna close with a word of prayer, I’m gonna buy them so musicians to come back up, we’re gonna sing a song as we close, just quiet your hearts to God right now for a moment. So all the way down, kids, all the way up to adults, everyone, and I would like you to pray quietly to God, you don’t have to pray anything out loud, just pray in your heart. I want you to pray to God, I want you to pray that you would be able to trust God, that He would give you peace in difficult times in these next few weeks…
Would you stand with me as we sing that song, Oh, Great God of Highest Heaven.