Summary: The first of series on the Christians oportunity and responsibility to influence our world through voting and political involvement.

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-It’s been said “whatever you do, don’t talk about religion or politics”. Well this morning I am going to break both of those rules because I am going to be talking about the role of religion in politics.

-they say don’t talk about politics or religion – well I am going to do something really crazy and talk about both at once. In my 14 years of preaching, I have encouraged people to vote for biblical principles but I have never done a whole sermon on voting let alone a sermon series – Why am I doing this? My goal is to help people learn what the Bible says about issues that are so current, so controversial and yet so crucial - Does a Christian have political responsibilities? Voting, the justification for war, the death penalty, poverty, abortion, gay marriage and stem cell research.

-As we think through these issues we should not be blindly following a specific candidate – our allegiance shouldn’t be to a specific party either but to Christ –that is why we are calling this series - Vote the Rock! (this title is a play on the MTV “get-out-the-vote” drive, Rock the Vote!) Right now you may be affiliated with a certain political party but we should be ready to dump a party at a moment’s notice. Our allegiance should be to Christ the Rock and not to the Republicans or Democrats. I don’t know if you know this but the Republican party was not formed along with the first church there in the book of Acts chapter 2. -Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly are not the two prophets in the book of Revelation who come to prepare the way for Jesus’ second coming. -You say, well I am not even a Republican, I am a Democrat – well to you I say - John Kerry is not a male Mother Theresa.

-Now some of you may be really looking forward to this series but I know what some of you are thinking. You think this series seems like a distraction – that it is even inappropriate for church. Maybe you are on “election overload” already. Now let me be quick to say that I think the primary means of change in the world is through a changed heart when Jesus Christ enters a spirit and makes that person born anew to God – that is our primary purpose. The Kingdom of God will not be ushered in by Christian lobbyists.

However, God has called us to be a witness for Him, to stand up for His ways and to influence our society and I think we should not be intimidated by those who would try to silence us and take every opportunity to influence this culture in positive ways. We need to know why we believe what we believe. We need to be able to explain it to our kids and to those who question us.

-Someone may wonder – “Are we even allowed to talk about this in church – isn’t it against the law or something?” Not it is not against the law and off course we are allowed to talk about it – this is America. Churches are allowed to spend 10% of our budget to influence legislation. Churches can keep our tax exempt status so that donations to the church are tax deductible as long as we discuss issues and values and do not endorse candidates. I agree with that – I think religious organizations should have different rules than political organizations, if a church wants to fully enter politics they should follow the rules that govern political organizations.

And relax, I do not want to turn this church into a political movement. -I am not going to tell you how to vote – our church and our elder board do not have an official position on the candidates. I do want you to grow with me in thinking biblically in regard to politics and I don’t know about you but I need to grow in how I act towards people who disagree with me. Frankly, I think I am a bit immature.

How to speak up for the Lord:

1) We should use our voice and vote for God’s ways (Ephesians 4:15).

2) We should speak up in God’s manner (Ephesians 4:15).

1) We should use our voice and vote for God’s ways.

-Ephesians 4:15 - Speaking the truth in love – we need the balance of both

-Truth without love is cold and harsh – -Love without truth is hate! - tolerance can be the cruelest form of hate when one approves of something that destroys lives.

-Let’s talk about truth – when Jesus mentioned “truth” to Pontius Pilate, Pilate asked the famous question - “What is truth?" – good question – how do we find truth - Truth is found in the Word of God – it is an objective standard – it is a practical guide for life

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