Faithlife Sermons

4-4: The Christian & the Social Order

Notes
Transcript

Bookmarks & Needs:

B: Matthew 5:13-16
N:

Welcome

Good morning! Today is Sanctity of Life Sunday, and the video we just watched was produced by a ministry that we closely partner with: CareNet Pregnancy Centers of Albuquerque. CareNet helps serve and counsel those facing unplanned pregnancy, those who have concerns that they have an STI, or those who have gone aborted a child. One of the ways that we support CareNet each year is through a baby bottle change drive. Out in the foyer, you’ll see a table with a bunch of baby bottles on it. If you’re willing to join in supporting CareNet, grab one of those bottles, start filling it with your spare change, and then bring it back to the church when it’s full. Gayle Wenrich, our liaison to CareNet, will make sure it is delivered to them.
Now, welcome to our Family Worship service. I am Bill Connors, and I just want to thank you for being here. If you’re visiting this morning, I’d like to ask that you text the word WELCOME to 505-339-2004, and then follow the link you get back, which will take you to our digital communication card. We’d just like to be able to personally say welcome and thanks for being here. If you’d rather fill out a physical card, you can do that using the cards in the back of the pew in front of you. You can then drop those in the offering plate at the close of service. Either way—digital or physical—I’d like to invite you to come down after service and meet me here at the front, so I can personally greet you and give you a gift to say thanks for being with Eastern Hills today.

Announcements

Business meeting tonight, soup potluck before. I know the Cowboys are playing, but please try to make the business meeting. =o)
LMCO ($26,075) this Sunday and one more, goal is $35K

Opening

Today is our second-to-last message in the last part of our series called We Believe, during which we have been looking at our Statement of Belief as a church. The purpose of this series has been to make sure that all of us are on the same page regarding what we believe, and next Sunday our last message in the series. This morning, we will consider the Christian and the Social Order, and our focal passage is Matthew 5:13-16. Let’s stand as we are able to in honor of God’s Word as we read this passage:
Matthew 5:13–16 CSB
13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt should lose its taste, how can it be made salty? It’s no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. 14 “You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
PRAYER (Iglesia Bautista Emanuel, Pastor Salvador Rodriguez)
I have a lot to cover this morning, which you will see when you read our Statement of Belief. I think I said last week that I wasn’t going to put it on the screen. I was wrong. Here it is:
EHBC’s Statement of Belief, Article 18: The Christian & the Social Order
“All Christians are under obligation to seek to make the will of Christ supreme in our own lives and in human society. Means and methods used for the improvement of society and the establishment of righteousness among men can be truly and permanently helpful only when they are rooted in the regeneration of the individual by the saving grace of God in Jesus Christ. In the spirit of Christ, Christians should oppose racism, every form of greed, selfishness, and vice, and all forms of sexual immorality, including adultery, homosexuality, and pornography. We should work to provide for the orphaned, the needy, the abused, the aged, the helpless, and the sick. We should speak on behalf of the unborn and contend for the sanctity of all human life from conception to natural death...”
This article was included in the very first version of The Baptist Faith & Message in 1925 under the title “Social Service.” It has changed some in the last 98 years through updates of terminology and addition of issues of concern as they came to bear more heavily on our society. While societal issues haven’t always been of vital importance in our denominational perspective, they always should have been.
Sadly, following the Snopes Monkey Trial in 1925, the church largely retreated from the halls of academia and the political arenas, because we were unprepared for the force of the materialistic perspective behind the theory of naturalistic evolution. We bought into the false concept of the reason/faith dichotomy, and decided to back out of argument in the public sphere. And as the church retreated, secularism rose up to fill the void. Of course, I’m generalizing a lot here.
But we never should have given up an inch. The church is not a religious institution: we are an outpost of the Kingdom of God in a foreign land called the world. We have to live in the world, but we are not to be of the world. We have the truth about how God made us, how God loves us, and how God has determined is the best possible way for us to live our lives. We have the hope that the world needs in the message of the Gospel. And while not everyone will believe the Gospel and be saved, we also believe as the founders of our nation did: that a moral society is a good society, a peaceful society, and a prosperous society. Think about it: if everyone truly followed the framework of Christian morality, how much better would the world be? How much safer? How much more peaceful?
Christian, you and I are to be a catalyst for this, because when we pray the Lord’s prayer, we should mean it:
Matthew 6:10 CSB
10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
But we shouldn’t mean it in a passive sense, like, “that would really be great if that happened,” but in an active sense of, “I want your will to be done on earth, God, and so I submit to that will in my own life.” This takes us to our first point in our consideration of the Christian and the social order this morning:

1) Christian engagement in the social order begins with us.

You can’t really lead people to somewhere that you’re not heading. When our Statement of Belief says, “All Christians are under obligation to seek to make the will of Christ supreme in our own lives and in human society,” which part comes first? The “us” part comes first.
This point is why Matthew 5:13-16 is our focal passage this morning. Notice the pictures that Jesus paints about who we are, church:
We are the salt of the earth. Salt was incredibly valuable in Bible times (and it still is, we just have a lot of it). It was used to season, to preserve, to purify, and to heal. Likewise, we are called to season: to give the world a taste of the abundant life in Christ. We are called to be a preservative in our culture: slowing the decay of sin by our moral conduct and proclamation of the Gospel. We are to be a purifying agent: that the world would see our good works and give glory to God, wanting to emulate our lives. We are to be a healing agent as well: showing the healing love of God by how we serve and love others.
We are also the light of the world; a city on a hill. We are to shine the glory and greatness of God to the watching world so they would know that God is with us. We are to provide light like a lampstand, so that people would walk by that light on right paths, following our righteous and holy example.
If we refuse to walk with Jesus, we fail in being who we are called to be. It’s simple: if we aren’t living out our Christian faith, showing how great Jesus is through our changed lives, sharing the truth of the Gospel and building relationships with those who are lost, how are we going to have any impact in the social order? Salt that isn’t salty isn’t salt. Light that doesn’t shine isn’t light. The very first thing we need to address is our own walks with Jesus. Is He Lord, or not? If He is Lord, then we should live like He is Lord. If we refuse to live like He is Lord, then is He, really?
And not only that, but consider this from the perspective of our collective witness: how many people don’t want to come into a church building or hear the Gospel simply because of the “Christians” they have known who didn’t live up to the name they bear? That the only Christians they’ve known were terrible hypocrites who didn’t practice what they preach? Admittedly, we’re all hypocrites to a certain extent. All of us fail to live up to the truth of the Gospel. But walking with Jesus in humble, submitted faith is often a powerful testimony to the watching world. This brings us to our second point:

2) Christian engagement in the social order is based on Christ.

The second sentence of our Statement of Belief is a powerful one, and reveals the basis for our entire concept of engaging the social order: “Means and methods used for the improvement of society and the establishment of righteousness among men can be truly and permanently helpful only when they are rooted in the regeneration of the individual by the saving grace of God in Jesus Christ.” See, the message of the Gospel isn’t that Jesus is A way to the best possible life. The Gospel says that life with Jesus is THE ONLY way to experience all the blessing that God has for us, because the biggest issue we have isn’t social: it’s spiritual.
The problem in the world isn’t that people aren’t nice, or they aren’t kind, they aren’t prosperous, or they aren’t moral. The problem is that they’re dead, and they just don’t know it. God made us to be in a perfect relationship with Him, but we rejected it and chose to go our own way instead. But every way that God doesn’t want us to go is a sinful way, a way that leads away from Him, the Author and Giver of Life. And it doesn’t matter how good or kind or prosperous or moral we become—the dead part remains dead, and forever separated from Him. So Jesus came and lived a life without sin so that He could take our place in death, receiving the punishment that we deserve because of our sin; and then because He is God, He overcame death in our place, so we can live forever with Him. Jesus is it: The only way.
John 14:6 CSB
6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
So we believe not that the Gospel makes bad people nice or rude people kind, and that’s how we improve society. The Scripture says that someone who has surrendered to Jesus has actually passed from death into life.
John 5:24 CSB
24 “Truly I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not come under judgment but has passed from death to life.
If you’ve never trusted in Christ for your salvation, then you’re lost. You might be a really nice person, but you’re not a perfect person. And that’s the standard: perfection. When we trust in Christ’s perfection instead of our own, His righteousness is put in our account, and we are forgiven and promised eternal life. But that abundant life isn’t just for later: it’s for right now, through the working of His Spirit in the lives of those who belong to Him in faith. Surrender to Jesus as Savior and Lord this morning.
And church, we have been given our marching orders for how to be a part of changing the world. We do it through sharing the Gospel:
Matthew 28:19–20 CSB
19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
We share the hope of the Gospel. People trust Christ. We teach them to obey Christ. They obey. This has a positive impact on society.
The Gospel is the solution to humanity’s societal issues. The reason that society is broken is that humanity is broken. And the only solution to the brokenness of humanity is Jesus. It’s not about behavior modification. It’s about life transformation. Tell people about Jesus!
With that being said, our Statement of Belief goes on to list a few things that we as Bible-believing Christians are against, and a few things that we are for, as we seek to make His will supreme.

3) Addressing specific things listed in our Statement of Belief:

In a October 2022 Pew Research survey regarding the phrase “Christian nationalism,” it was found that 67% of Americans want religious institutions (such as churches) to steer clear of political issues. However, this doesn’t make any sense. How many political issues are actually moral issues? And if something is a moral issue, isn’t it also a spiritual issue? The truth is that these “political” issues are actually spiritual issues that have social and political consequences. So if the church is called to “seek to bring industry, government, and society as a whole under the sway of the principles of righteousness, truth, and brotherly love,” (BF&M 2000, Article XV) then how can we not address these moral and spiritual issues, even if they happen to be political? But one thing I want to make plainly clear about this: our standard and our message should be what the Scriptures say, not what politicians or pundits say. If we trust, repeat, and follow politicians more than we trust, repeat, or follow the Bible, we don’t have political leaders: we have idols.
I’m going to speak more to the topic of Christian nationalism next week as we discuss the concept of Religious Liberty.
Honestly, we could do a whole series just on this list. So I’m not going to say everything there is to say about these things. Also, this list isn’t completely comprehensive, even as we confess that the Christian faith cannot and should not be reduced to a list of things that we are for or against. But I’ll try to be clear about where we as a church stand on these particular topics. And I’ll warn you now: I’m likely to be substantially more blunt than some will be comfortable with, and I’m even willing to admit up front that some might be offended by that. I’m not planning on making any apologies.
One thing to say first: God has proven that He loves everyone by giving His Son to die for the world (John 3:16). We’re going to address each of these things this morning, but it’s not my goal and it’s not our role to hate the people who disagree with us or who live in these ways. We are called to love others because God does. This doesn’t mean we’re okay with practices that go against the command of God. It means that we see people the way God sees them: as precious creations of His for whom Christ died.
The list naturally breaks into things we are opposed to, and things that we are for:

A) The things we stand opposed to:

1) Racism

I’m going to confess one thing first off: The Southern Baptist Convention didn’t start very auspiciously in this regard. In fact, our Convention was born with serious racial and slavery issues. In 1845, the Southern Baptist Convention was formed largely because slave owners wanted to serve as missionaries. Many thought that they should be able to, and many did not. But just because the SBC started that way doesn’t mean that it has remained that way. In fact, in 1995 the Southern Baptist Convention issued its Resolution On Racial Reconciliation on its 150th anniversary, declaring that we denounce racism, see all humans as having equal and immeasurable worth in God’s sight, and confess our forebears’ connection to the slave trade, asking for forgiveness for those sins of our collective denominational past.
The sad reality is that racism has nearly always been a part of human brokenness. However, we who are in Christ should strive to transcend this way of thinking and seeing. The Bible says that in Christ:
Galatians 3:28 CSB
28 There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male and female; since you are all one in Christ Jesus.
The truth is that Jesus, the Lamb of God, died on behalf of every person from every tribe and language and people and nation, according to Revelation 5:9:
Revelation 5:9 CSB
9 And they sang a new song: You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slaughtered, and you purchased people for God by your blood from every tribe and language and people and nation.
After this in Revelation, the first six seals are opened, and then we have this great passage in chapter 7:
Revelation 7:9–10 CSB
9 After this I looked, and there was a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language, which no one could number, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes with palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice: Salvation belongs to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!
I can’t say this any more succinctly than this: If you think that some race is superior to any other, then you are just going to be disappointed in heaven, because we’re all going to be there together, at the same table, having the same wedding feast of the Lamb, all of equal worth in God’s sight.
If that’s what heaven is going to be like, shouldn’t we seek to have at least the church look like this, and as we are able, to impact society to look like this as well?

2) Greed & Selfishness

I suppose the nuance here is that greed is never being satisfied with that we have, and selfishness is never being willing to share what we have. Both are antithetical to the Gospel life.
Jesus Himself opposed greed and selfishness during His earthly ministry:
Luke 12:13–15 CSB
13 Someone from the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” 14 “Friend,” he said to him, “who appointed me a judge or arbitrator over you?” 15 He then told them, “Watch out and be on guard against all greed, because one’s life is not in the abundance of his possessions.”
This church family is incredibly generous, and we should seek to continue to be so. Christians cannot get wrapped up in what we have or what we want to have, because when we do, we take our eyes off of the cross and all that Jesus has done for us. We should set an example for others in how generous we are with our time, our talents, and our treasure.

3) Vice

The word “vice” is kind of a general word for “immoral or wicked behavior” (Concise Oxford English Dictionary, 2004). It could encompass all sorts of things. So rather than explain that, we’ll just address the application in our Statement of Faith.
Many think that allowing people to live immoral or wicked lives is what freedom looks like: that we shouldn’t try to legislate morality, as long as the person’s choices only affect them. I disagree for many reasons, but I’ll just give two today: First, every choice that we make affects other people: our families, our friends, our co-workers, our employers, and we could go on and on. There are always collateral victims to our wickedness. Second, our immorality and wickedness always seem to be a slippery slope: humans just keep finding new ways to be terrible, so we have to draw limits somewhere. Can we legislate everything? No. But just because something isn’t illegal doesn’t mean it’s not immoral. We have the truth on our side. We don’t need the government to say something is wrong for us to feel free saying it’s wrong as well. We can and should speak out against wickedness even if it’s not against the law. In fact, Paul said that we should “detest evil:”
Romans 12:9 CSB
9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Detest evil; cling to what is good.
And later in that chapter, he also wrote that we should conquer evil with good:
Romans 12:21 CSB
21 Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good.
We are to stand against the erosion of society’s moral foundation.

4) Sexual Immorality

This is where most of our “PG” language is going to be this morning.
A big focal verse on this topic for me is Hebrews 13:4:
Hebrews 13:4 CSB
4 Marriage is to be honored by all and the marriage bed kept undefiled, because God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterers.
We often confuse guardrails and boundaries. If you’ve ever driven through the Black Range Mountains down south near Silver City, you’ve driven slowly through lots of hairpins and switchbacks that are next to steep drop offs. On all of these tight curves are guardrails to keep people from driving off a cliff. Yes, guardrails are also boundaries—but they are boundaries for our good. By their presence, they declare, “You should not go past this point in this direction for your own safety.” If you were driving through the mountains on a hairy and scary road like that in the middle of the night, would you look at those and say, “Wow, I can’t believe how much my freedom of expression in my driving is being limited right now.”? No! You’d look at those and say, “Wow, am I glad those guardrails are there!”
God put guardrails around sexual expression, and He did it on purpose. So often, we look at them as restrictive boundaries. Sadly, human beings have almost always struggled with the thought that God’s sexual guardrails are somehow keeping us from true freedom. No, God put them there because He knows that if you cross that boundary, on the other side is a cliff that will trap you, destroy you, or even kill you. And the Word of God clearly says that marriage is to be honored by all, the marriage bed kept undefiled, and that God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.
Now we can quickly unpack the things listed under sexual immorality in our Statement of Belief:
Including:
A) Adultery
This is when there is a relationship where there is infidelity on one or both parts. That infidelity can be sexual or merely emotional. It involves one spouse seeking from someone else what they are supposed to only receive from the person they married. God hates divorce, but God hates adultery so much that it is one of the few valid reasons given in Scripture for divorce.
Matthew 19:8–9 CSB
8 He told them, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because of the hardness of your hearts, but it was not like that from the beginning. 9 I tell you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another commits adultery.”
And no, Jesus wasn’t saying that you could cheat on your spouse and then that was reason to divorce them. He was saying that the spouse who was faithful gets to make that call.
We should be an example of what faithful love between a husband and a wife looks like.
B) Homosexuality
We might think of homosexuality as kind of a modern issue, but it’s not. It’s been around for a long time. Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19 were clearly destroyed primarily for the sin of homosexuality. The problem actually goes all the way back to the Fall. When Adam and Eve sinned, every aspect of who we are was broken, including our sexuality. So while wide-spread acceptance of homosexuality in our culture is a fairly modern occurrence, this isn’t the only culture in which it has ever been widely accepted. But just because something is widely accepted doesn’t mean that God condones it, and it doesn’t mean that it’s right.
This also speaks to perhaps more “modern” gender issues.
Just before the passage we just saw on divorce, Jesus was clear about God’s design for humanity:
Matthew 19:4–6 CSB
4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that he who created them in the beginning made them male and female, 5 and he also said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
He made those who would be married male and female. And our intentional design by our Creator clearly and loudly speaks to who we are both sexually and in our gender identity. Our biology is not an accident. It’s intentional. And we cannot change our biology just because we feel a certain way or through medical intervention. Our biology has made a definitive statement about who we are.
Also, notice that in Matthew 19, there was no provision for homosexual “marriage.” By definition of the One who created marriage, homosexuals cannot be married, because marriage is between one male and one female. Homosexuality is not a part of God’s good design, and Scripture is clear in several places that it is wrong. And if homosexuality is outside of the realm of God’s design for marriage, then a homosexual marriage bed cannot be considered pure according to Hebrews 13:4.
C) Pornography
This one is perhaps the most insidious of the three things listed here. I say this because it’s the easiest to hide. It’s the easiest to justify. It’s the one of the three that Christians are most likely to engage in. And it’s also perhaps the most ensnaring for a couple of reasons: 1) When you view pornography, you’re at a distance from the person you’re looking at, so to some extent, they aren’t really a person—so you can do a certain amount of dehumanization of them in your head. If you’re looking at “things” instead of people, it’s easier to excuse looking at them for your own purposes and pleasure. And 2) The brain chemicals involved in pornography use are there on purpose, designed by God to connect us to our spouse through marital sex. However, just like every other sin is us taking a blessing of God and twisting it for evil purposes, in pornography we take the blessing of the chemical part of our sex drives and turn them into drugs that we become addicted to. And once your brain starts connecting the dots between looking at pornography and the release of dopamine and serotonin in your system, it will want to look at more.
In the verse that we looked at in the beginning of this section, Hebrews 13:4, the word there for “the sexually immoral” is the Greek work pornos. This word is a general term for one who commits sexual immorality of any kind. So yes, pornography is sexual immorality according to Scripture.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus was very clear about looking at someone in order to lust after them:
Matthew 5:27–29 CSB
27 “You have heard that it was said, Do not commit adultery. 28 But I tell you, everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of the parts of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.
Pornography will control you. But more than that, it is a destroyer of society. Study after study after study tell us the effects of pornography on the brain, on relationships, on maturity, on happiness, on criminal sexual behavior… the list goes on and on. It does no good for society, and it will do no good in your life or the lives of those you love.

B) The things we stand for:

1) Providing for others

As Christians we have a responsibility to reach out to those who are not as blessed as we are and to minister God's love to them physically and tangibly. As individuals and as a church we are called to help the poor, to feed the hungry and to speak out for those who have no voice.
Nowhere is this truth more clear than in Matthew 25:35-40 where Jesus says:
Matthew 25:35–40 CSB
35 “ ‘For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger and you took me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you took care of me; I was in prison and you visited me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and take you in, or without clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick, or in prison, and visit you?’ 40 “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
There are two extremes to which people often go when it comes to these verses. One takes people to the social gospel, where only the physical needs are met and the soul is left unattended. The other extreme is only to minister to the spiritual needs and to neglect the material needs of those less fortunate. Without mistake, Jesus has called us to spread the Gospel, but He has also called us to share of our material goods with those in need. That's why we are called to love others not merely in word but also in deed.
And I want to quickly expand on a couple of the categories in our list:
A) The orphaned
These are children who have lost one or both parents through death or abandonment. We have a great opportunity to pour into an orphaned child’s life, showing them the love of Jesus just be acting in a surrogate, or even sometimes in an adoptive manner as we are allowed to.
B) The abused
We should stand for and minster to those who have experienced physical, emotional, and or sexual abuse as we have opportunity, and we should have safeguards in place to prevent those things from occurring in church family life.
C) The helpless
In considering this category of people in need, I was reminded of the human trafficking industry throughout the world. This is modern-day slavery. These people are completely helpless, and we can work to help them to be freed from their captivity and to escape the need to serve in the horrific ways they are forced to serve.

2) The sanctity of human life

Finally, we come to the issues of abortion and euthanasia. We believe that all life is sacred from the moment of conception to natural death. As a result, we must oppose abortion and euthanasia.
A) The unborn
I have spoken specifically on the topic of abortion a few times in my past five years as senior pastor, and so I will not go into a lengthy discussion of the topic this morning. I can tell you that you can go and watch and/or listen to those messages by visiting our Sermon Archive page on our website. The sermons of January 20, 2019, called “Kingdom Hearts: Life & Wisdom” and the sermon of March 13, 2022, called “Hot Topics: 3—Abortion” are a much more thorough treatment of this topic than we have time for today. I also included this topic in one of my points in my message of August 2, 2020, called “Amos: The Future and the Past.”
I will just bring one passage to bear on this topic this morning:
Genesis 1:26–28 CSB
26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, the whole earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth.” 27 So God created man in his own image; he created him in the image of God; he created them male and female. 28 God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that crawls on the earth.”
God is the designer of humanity, and He has seen fit to have us and only us bear His image, His likeness. And He designed us to pass that image on to our children and their children and their children etc. All humans bear the image of God from the moment they are conceived. It is not for us to choose to destroy an image bearer for personal convenience.
B) The suffering
Finally, the last thing our Statement of Belief touches on in this list is euthanasia, in which I will include the sub-topic of suicide. This is where someone chooses to die through either doctor-assisted or personal suicide. In Canada and a few other countries, people can get governmental permission to have their lives medically cut short. More than 30,000 Canadians have died via medical assistance (which is a bit of an oxymoron) since it became legal in 2016, and starting in March of 2023, people whose only underlying condition is mental illness of some kind will be able to appeal to government for medically assisted death. People are dying in Canada simply because they are “tired of living.” (https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/canada-prepares-expand-assisted-death-amid-debate-2022-12-11/)
I have been there at the end of life for a few of our church members over the years, and I confess that it’s a difficult thing to watch and be present for. However, I am more convinced than ever that the day of our life’s end is not for us to decide, but God’s. We should take the position of Job, who was facing an extremely difficult trial at the time, and despaired of life itself as well:
Job 1:21 CSB
21 saying: Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will leave this life. The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.
It’s the Lord who gives life, and the Lord who takes it away. We should not attempt to usurp His position or authority by attempting to change the timeline.

4) So what do we do?

Allow me to very quickly suggest three practical ways in which we can be salt and light and put what our Lord has called us to be into practice.

A. Voice

We are to be vocal, to speak out in our culture for God's truth.
This includes what is said from the pulpit and what is said around the water cooler and what we post online. As Christians we are not called to be silent. The world would have no problem with us believing whatever we want to believe, as long as we never say it out loud. But we are called to speak God's truth to the culture in which we live.
When the truth of God's revelation is withheld from society, they cast off all restraint and the society quickly begins to decline.
Proverbs 29:18 says,
Proverbs 29:18 CSB
18 Without revelation people run wild, but one who follows divine instruction will be happy.
As Christians, God has called us to be truth speakers; we are to convey His truth to the world around us, whether it is popular or not.
But not only do are we salt and light with our words, we are salt and light as we exercise our wills: this is how we vote.

B. Vote

We have the great privilege and blessing in this country to be able to cast our votes for candidates to represent us in our government. For Christians, our vote must have more to do with eternity than the economy, more to do with Christ than with charisma, for Christians our vote should be an extension of what God has called us to be rather than about a party to which we belong.
James 4:17 says,
James 4:17 CSB
17 So it is sin to know the good and yet not do it.
Remember, our citizenship is ultimately in heaven. God Himself will be on the throne and will judge each of us according to our works. As Christians, we no longer belong to ourselves, as Scripture says: we are not our own, we have been bought with a price. We who have been crucified with Christ no longer live unto ourselves, but it is Christ who lives in us.
Would Jesus vote for a candidate that stands against what His Word clearly teaches? If Jesus would not vote for them, how can we vote for them with a clear conscience before Him? There are no perfect candidates. But we have to decide where the clear lines are, and hold to those as best we can. As God's people who are committed to seeing His kingdom come and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven, God will hold us responsible for how we exercise His will in the voting booth.

C. Visibility

This is our witness—ultimately it comes down to this doesn't it?
We can give the finest speeches and cast our votes for the very best candidate, but at the end of the day, what really matters is how we live, what our witness is really like. How we live tells the tale. How we treat others, how we conduct our business, how we spend our time, our money, all of these things clearly and visibly demonstrate whether or not we are really believers. And whether or not you realize it, someone is always watching, looking to see if what you claim is true about Jesus is true in you.
This is why Jesus said, coming back full circle to Matthew 5:16:
Matthew 5:16 CSB
16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

Closing

If we pray as Jesus teaches us, that His kingdom come and His will be done, on earth as it is in heaven, are we living in such a way that we could be the answers to our own prayers? Are we being salt and light in our culture, or have we compromised and lost our preserving and purifying ability? Have we become so spiritual dim that we cannot see clearly ourselves, much less lead others to spiritual truth?
Repentance: Have you allowed the light of Christ to dim in your life?
Surrender: Without Jesus you are broken, and lost, and dead.
Church Membership: Is EHBC a place where you can serve and grow and shine?
Prayer
Offering
PRAYER

Closing Remarks

Blondell Keen Memorial 2/4 at 10am
Bible reading (1 Tim 4)
Reminder for business meeting
Prayer Meeting Wednesday at 5:45 in MH
Instructions for guests
parents pick up kids from kids worship upstairs in 217

Benediction

Micah 6:8 CSB
8 Mankind, he has told each of you what is good and what it is the Lord requires of you: to act justly, to love faithfulness, and to walk humbly with your God.
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