Summary: When it comes to the voting booth, the follower of Jesus Christ has a responsibility to do more than ask, "What’s in it for me?"
Bible Teaching Ministry of
CEDAR LODGE BAPTIST CHURCH
October 24, 2004
It is little wonder that churches today are often embroiled in controversies and disputes. The old saying is if you don’t want to have a fight there are two subjects you should avoid in public, politics and religion.
Every preacher knows that if you are going to preach from the Bible you are going to cover both…and often at the same time.
I had that sinking feeling this week approaching this text. It was like the Mom who was listening to her five-year-old son as he worked on his Speak and Spell™ computer. He was concentrating intensely, typing-in words for the computer to say back to him.
The little guy punched-in the word “God”. To his surprise, the computer said, “Word not found.” He tried again – same reply. Staring at the computer in disgust he declared, “Jesus is not going to like this!”
In a little more than one week registered voters will be going to cast their votes in a presidential election. My purpose this morning is to ask you to take your faith into the political booth!
Now, I do not mean that I want you to elect a Southern Baptist, or an evangelical, or a Jew or a Scientologist. I am not advocating Republicans, Democrats or Independents. What I am saying is that the responsibility of a follower of Jesus Christ when he goes into that voting booth is to ask more than the question, “what’s in it for me?”
What about “separation of church and state”, preacher? My friends, our form of government, and the “free exercise of religion” clause of the constitution prevents the Government from dictating religion or faith to its’ people…it doesn’t mean citizens are supposed to check their faith at the lobby when they enter the public arena. In fact if someone can separate you from your faith at any point, you don’t have a faith, you have a favored preferential thought.
The candidates are just that, candidates; they want to be elected. Our job is to do better than just voting for what will benefit our pocketbooks; we need to do a little Kingdom soul-searching.
Do you recall the movie “Field of Dreams”? Ray Kinsella is working in his Iowa cornfield one day and he hears some disembodied voice whisper, “build it and they will come.” Ray plows under his corn crop, to the scorn of his farmer friends, and builds a ball field. Soon after, the ghosts of early 1900’s professional ball players wander out of what’s left of Ray’s corn and begin to play baseball. Every day they play baseball; every night they melt back into the cornfield.
Just as Ray is getting comfortable with the whole situation the ghosts invite a newcomer to go back in the corn with them. Ray is incensed…”why him; why not me? I’m the one who built this field for you!” The question comes, “Are you asking ‘what’s in it for you, Ray’?”
Every political process in our society demands we ask ourselves the same question – is it just “what’s in it for me” that I care about?
In our Bible text Peter faced that question of greed. The rulers who had thrown him in jail had done so because the people were beginning to believe in and follow Jesus. This was bad business for political animals.
They threatened John and Peter so they would stop preaching and healing people in Jesus’ name. Peter replied with those few simple words that give us our marching orders to the polls:
“Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed
to you rather than God, you be the judge;”
Acts 4:19b (NASB)
In a previous election the debates raged and the catchphrase that stuck in my mind was “it’s the economy, stupid”, implying that the only thing that really mattered was money in our collective pockets. Jesus had something to say about his followers and money:
24“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth. Matthew 6:24 (NASB)
I would like to share with you a few other words, and ask you to be analysts this morning. Use the question, “what’s in it for me” when you hear each word:
Partial-Birth Abortion – Is it worth it to have a great economy, health-care available for everyone, if it is legal for a doctor to partially deliver a tiny baby, but insert an instrument to destroy the child’s brain, dismember and then complete the delivery?
World Oil Supply – Is it worth it to have a great economy at the cost of young lives just so we can be in control of our interests?