Summary: With all the things that go on during the political season, do you lose sight of the big picture? Today, we’ll spend our time looking at the big picture concerning politics. We’ll see what the Bible tells us our chief political job as a Christian is.
I read an article the other day that was written by an Air Force officer who had been stationed with the Army Corps of Engineers in Baghdad. He told of something that happened to him while they were working on the reconstruction of Iraq. His unit was responsible for rebuilding roads and bridges and buildings and schools. And in order to perform their mission, they employed 40-50 Iraqi contract engineers. These people are often the targets of terrorists because of how closely they work with us. And that was the case with one of the young Iraqi ladies who worked for him. She was regularly threatened and harassed because she chose to wear western clothes and refused to wear a hijab. When she began to share these incidents with the Air Force officer, he gave her some advice. He thought it was good advice. He thought it would protect her and keep her safe. He suggested that she just go ahead and wear the hijab so they would leave her alone. After he made that suggestion, she gave him a completely heartbroken look. She just looked up at him and said, “But sir, I’m free.” You see, in all the day-to-day concerns… in all the focus on his mission… with all the focus on bridges and roads and buildings… that officer lost sight of the big picture. He lost sight of the fact that everything he was doing was for the purpose of providing freedom for those people. I find myself doing the same thing. I get so wrapped up in the day to day concerns of life that I tend to forget the big picture. With all the work that has been done around the church the past few weeks getting ready for the associational annual meeting—it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture. With all the planning and organizing for the fall revival and bean dinner and fall festival and FRANday—it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture. During this political season, I have to constantly guard against it. I tend to get so wrapped up in issue after issue and debate after debate that I lose sight of the big picture. I get so focused on who’s winning and who’s losing that I forget the purpose of it all. That’s why our passage this morning is so important to us right now. It reminds us of the big picture. It reminds us of the purpose of it all. This passage is part of the first letter that Paul wrote to his young apprentice Timothy. Paul had apparently led Timothy to the Lord sometime in the past—probably when Timothy was just a teenager. And after Paul led him to the Lord, he took him along on several mission trips. He mentored him and taught him like he would his own son. And then it was time to send him out from under his wing. So after sending him off by himself to serve several churches temporarily, Paul sent him to Ephesus to be their pastor. All this took place late in the life of Paul and he wrote this letter to Timothy after his first imprisonment in Rome that closes the book of Acts. And one of the main themes of this letter is for Timothy to keep his eye on the big picture. That theme really comes out in the passage we just read. When you look through the New Testament and you study history, you know that this was a dangerous time to be a Christian. Paul spent much of his ministry in prison. Timothy even spent some time in prison. They had been persecuted by Jewish leaders and were being increasingly persecuted by the Roman government. It was during this time that the Roman Emperor Nero was in power. Nero was a horrible tyrant and was the first emperor to make it his policy to brutally kill Christians. He murdered his mother, his brother, and even burned most of Rome down in order to have room to build new buildings dedicated to himself. He wasn’t a nice guy. How easy it would have been for Paul and Timothy to focus on all the rotten things Nero was doing. How easy it would have been for them to try to generate a movement to throw Nero out of power. How easy it would have been for them to call on Christians to band together and fight the power. But they didn’t. As a young man, it probably would have been very easy for Timothy to get all fired up in that direction. But Paul wrote him this passage to remind him to keep his eye on the big picture. When I look around and I see the wholesale slaughter of unborn children… when I see the false promises and the lies… when I see threats to freedom of choice in education and healthcare and self protection… when I see those things, I tend to lose sight of the big picture. I need to be reminded about what our chief political job is as Christians. Is it to rail against Nero? No. Is it to build a political coalition? No. Is it to do nothing? No. Well then, what is our chief political job as Christians? Verse 1 and the first part of verse 2 tells us: