Labor Day became an official U.S. Holiday in 1894, as an affirmation of the importance of the average working person in the American economy. It has also come to mean the end of summer and the beginning of fall, the point when kids go back to school after summer vacation and the time when retail stores have their best sales.
Every four years, Labor Day also marks the beginning of the most fervent political activity that Americans ever experience, the election campaign for the President of the United States. 2016 is one of those years.
So we decided to focus our sermons during these next few weeks on the topic of “Good Christian Citizens.” We intend to go back and look at what the Bible says about how our Christian faith should affect how we act as citizens of the nation we live in. Our goal is to be non-partisan, to avoid making judgments about political parties or candidates. Rather, we hope to find how Jesus and the Apostles taught the early believers to live out their faith within the realities of the society and the government where they happened to be. We’ve chosen to limit our Biblical studies to the New Testament, because in the Old Testament period the destiny of the earthly Nation of Israel and the spiritual People of God are interwoven in a way that, we believe, has no direct application since the coming of Christ.
Here are the New Testament passages that shed light on how Jesus, his disciples and the early church interacted with the political factors they had to deal with: Matthew 22:15-22, Luke 7:1-10, Luke 20: 19-26, John 19, 1-21, Acts 5:17-42, Acts 16:35-40, Acts 17:24-31, Acts 22:22-29, Romans 13:1-10, Philippians 3:17-21, 1 Timothy 2:1-7, Titus 3:1-3, 1 Peter 2:11-25. All of our sermon studies will grow out of our understanding of these passages. We encourage you to read them as part of your personal devotions and spiritual enrichment during the weeks ahead.
Throughout church history, believers have found ways to live out their faith in a wide range of governmental contexts: from existing as a tiny group that could be ignored by government leaders, to emerging as a significant minority community that was seen as a threat and must be oppressed or eliminated, to taking over leadership and establishing a Christian government with a State Church. Our own situation, being a free religious group in a democratic society, is just one of the models in which the true Church, the Body of Christ, has found a way to thrive and grow.
We believe there are some Biblical principles of Good Christian Citizenship that have been true and valid in every time and circumstance, and these will be the subjects of seven sermons:
- Good Christian Citizens Affirm That Their First Allegiance Is to God’s Kingdom.
- Good Christian Citizens Understand the Earthly Realm in which They Live.
- Good Christian Citizens Commit Themselves to Active Participation in the Government of Their Earthly Realm
- Good Christian Citizens Obey the Laws of Their Earthly Realm in the Light of Their Faith in God.
- Good Christian Citizens Advocate for Those Who Are in Positions of Weakness in the Earthly Kingdom.
- Good Christian Citizens Change the Laws of Their Earthly Realm, as They Are Able to, in the Direction of God’s Will.
- Good Christian Citizens Respect Each Other’s Differing Views in Religion and Politics.
We’ll begin the sermon series this Sunday, which just happens to be 9/11. We’ll end it on 10/23, which just happens to be sixteen days before the election (which gives us enough time to leave town if we mess up the series).
— Pastor George Van Alstine