Summary: Because the world is watching us, we can be stumbling blocks or stepping stones to the Kingdom of God.
The World Is Watching
December 31, 2000
Let’s start this morning with a history lesson
It was Summer, 1968
- time of turmoil in America, for several reasons
-not the least of which was the controversy over the war in Vietnam
- like this year which ends today, 1968 was an election year
- both parties held their national conventions
- Republicans nominated Richard Nixon, who would later in the year be elected to his first term as president
- Democrats nominated Hubert Humphrey, a Minnesotan
(threw that in for the benefit of Jim Grinnell)
Democratic National Convention was held in Chicago, a Demo stronghold
- Richard Daley, whose son would play a part in the Florida election mess 32 years later -was the undisputed king of the city - a longtime mayor whose reputation for winning elections helped lay a foundation for the tongue-in-cheek statement sometimes attributed to Chicago elections:
"vote early, vote often"
Anyway, despite the fact that many Democrats were very sympathetic with the anti-war movement, demonstrators targeted the Democratic National Convention for large protests
- this was the ‘60s - the era of the hippie movement - a different time in America
- I remember as a boy of 12 years old watching this unfold on television
- outside the convention center, large crowds of young people were protesting the war
- the next thing that happened was what made this such a memorable occasion
- while the convention went on inside, with most of the delegates at first completely unaware of what was taking place outside
- outside, Mayor Daley’s Chicago Police force was making sure the demonstrators didn’t get out of hand
they responded to the taunts and curses of the demonstrators, and perhaps to some rock throwing, with tear gas, billy clubs and brute force…
Now, I’m not suggesting they didn’t need to use that force - I don’t know
- but what I remember is that TV caught the whole thing…
- here on live television was a huge crowd of young people
- being beaten, dragged away, tear-gassed
- in the midst of this, a chant began, indiscernible at first, but growing
- anyone remember what the demonstrators chanted as some of them were being beaten, kicked and gassed?
- they said: "the whole world is watching…. The whole world is watching"
- it was quite a powerful moment
- they were saying - you can’t beat us and gas us without everyone seeing exactly what you’re doing… and it doesn’t do much for your message of peace
- I remember later, inside the convention hall, after most of the delegates had become aware of what was going on, the cameras focused on Mayor Daley as someone called his police force a "bunch of thugs" from the podium
- it was an embarrassing moment for him, for his city, for the Democratic Party, even though for the party it was only guilt by association
- because when they were trying to win the hearts of Americans, here was a group of protesters undermining that message of peace and prosperity that all political parties try to claim as their own, with a picture broadcast to the nation and to the world of these protesters being beaten
The whole world is watching
The title of this morning’s message is The World Is Watching
And just as it was true that the Democrats couldn’t have their little altercation with war protesters
without people seeing and judging for themselves how that matched up with the rhetoric inside the convention hall
- we as believers cannot sin, cannot let down our guard when it comes to the biblical standards of attitude and behavior we profess
- because the world is watching
Jesus said to his disciples: "Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. 2It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin.
Just as 1968 was memorable for that event, as well as many other significant historical events
What will the year 2000 be remembered for?
- the non-event of the "y2k" bug?
- the presidential race?
- the Florida election mess?
Certainly, this year which ends today will be remembered for all those things and more
- but what’s unfortunate is that this year will also be remembered as a year during which many very visible Christians failed to live up to Godly standards, locally and nationally
- because the world is watching, we can only guess what kind of harm these failures have brought to the church
- and worse yet, to those outside the church, who will use these things as an excuse to attack believers