Three Sermons Which Will get Oren Arrested
VOTE FOR JOHN MCCAIN!
There. I said it. Yes, I know, it's kind of pointless to endorse a political candidate after the election. Really, that's why I waited to give this message last of all. Personally, I didn't really care for either candidate all that much. I had no desire to endorse either one. What I DO desire is the RIGHT to endorse either one.
Pop quiz. Who can tell me where the phrase "Separation of church and state" appears in the US Constitution? Trick question. It never does. Here's what it does say:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
Interesting... This article of the constitution says absolutely nothing about what the church may not do. Now I don't know much about what the law says in other countries, but here in the United States, there is a law that says if a church gets involved in politics, if the pastor so much as endorses a candidate, the church forfeits its tax exempt status. For most churches, this would be devastating and force them to close their doors. The reason for this law is a simple one. Somewhere in the recent past, a congressman got upset that churches were endorsing his opponent and not him. He decided that if he couldn't have the endorsement, no one could, and he drafted the bill and convinced congress to pass it.
Separation of church and state has become a battle cry for the God-haters in this era. The spirit behind the principle has several noble intentions- to keep political maneuvering out of the church, to keep absolute power out of any one person's hands, the keep the government from poluting God's word and to protect our freedoms from unelected radicals. It is meant to be a buffer zone that keeps both the government and the church safe from any corruption which might exist in the other. What it has become today is a straightjacket. It has turnbed into a weapon by which the church has become subject to brutal attack. Let me give you a few examples.
Madeline Murray O'Hare took it upon herself to ban prayer in public schools. Her sons helped her to do this with a smorgasboard of lies, to which one of them has since confessed. O'Hare was successful. Prayer is now forbidden in public schools. As a result, the grades are getting low and the students are getting high. Violent crime in public schools has gone through the roof, and some teenagers are graduating without ever learning to read. Coincidence? Hardly. Couple the absence of prayer with the absence of the bible in the classroom and the intoduction of alternate religions such as new-age mysticism and evolution, and you completely change the values with which the students are being instilled. There was a time when a healthy respect for God and His ways was the established norm. Even the heathen were taught the Christian way to behave, with love, respect, kindness, responsibility, compassion, cleanliness, patience and peace. Yes, there were always the oddballs who refused to make peace with anyone, but by and large, people understood the right way to act. Now, an entire generation has grown up without being taught about God or His ways. They are being taught that they are only alive by coincidence, that they have no purpose, no value, and have nothing to look forward to but death. They are taught that no matter what they choose to believe, it's fine, because it doesn't matter anyway. They might as well take whatever it is they desire because there is no reason to respect anyone else. If you want someone's sneakers, take them. Someone makes you mad, cap 'em, because their lives are ultimately worth nothing and there is no accountability for our actions.
The ten commandments, the foundation of all modern law, is now forbidden in any government building. Law has become completely arbitrary. What's illegal in Maine may be perfectly acceptable in California because there is no standard.
But what galls me the worst is that the church, which is supposed to be a moral and spiritual guide, not just to its members but to its entire community, is being systematically silenced. If the government decided that something is okay, the church is not permitted to condemn it, even if it a flargant violation of God's law. In the last two sermons in this series, I gave you the two biggest examples: You can't preach against homosexuality or islam. Both may get you arrested. If not arrested, they will likely encourage the government to look the other way while your enemies attack. The church has, for many years, helped America in making some of its most important decisions. If that decision was who to elect, the church exercised its right to chime in on the subject. Now the church did not ORDER anyone to vote one way or the other. Such is a violation of our basic rights. Neither have the various parts of the church always agreed. The important thing is that people were informed.
For example, I would not have ordered you to vote for John McCain, but I will tell you why I said that. McCain is an experienced leader, he has demonstrated resourcefulness and determination when, as a POW, he chose to better himself and his companions through learning rather than give up on life. His running mate, Palin, enjoys ringing endoresements from her constituents for the things she has accomplished as mayor and governor. Are they flawed? Sure. They're people. Some of you would have chosen not to vote for them, and that's fine. You have the right, even the obligation, to vote your conscience. My point is not that you should vote Republican, but that we as a church have the right to decide for ourselves who we like and why.
In fact, the first amendment guarantees that the United States government has no right to touch us. We are guaranteed the right to speak freely, to print freely, to worship according to the dictates of our conscience and God's commands, and that no law can ever be passed by the federal government restricting our worship. The law which prohibits us from discussing politics is illegal.
Luckily, we happen to be safe. This church is not on American soil. This building... (taps the floor with a flipper) does not technically exist. This church is international, and the building is located on the internet, which is everywhere, and nowhere, a world unto itself. If you want to get technical about it, we are exempt from any law but God's. Only as individuals are we subject to man's law. Still, I have a suggestion in case the feds try to tax us. We pay the taxes. But first, they must pay tithes retroactively from 2005 onward.
These three messages have been, to say the least, interesting for me to write. They have contained passion, sometimes vitriol, and just a pinch of rebellion. But what is it I'm really trying to say? Well, Jesus said it best. The world hates Him. Because it hates Him, it will hate us as well. Our Lord has trusted us with the mission of telling the world all about Him and the good news of salvation that He offers. The world is going to try to stifle you. You must not let that happen. We are members of God's army, and we are not called to avoid conflict. We are called to overcome it. We've learned in this series that the world wants you to do three things. A. Approve of its sins, B. Tolerate its errors and C. Stay locked up behind the cathedral doors. Those are three things we cannot do, because as the apostles said, we have a higher authority to answer to.
You remember my sermons about the armor of God, I trust. What's on your feet? Shoes! Shoes of the preparation of the gospel. This armor is not meant for sitting around on a pew. This is meant to get out into the world and do things! When the bible says that the gates of Hell shall not prevail against us, we need to remember that gates don't move. Gates are not for attack, they are defensive. What it is saying is that WE will prevail against the gates of Hell! WE are the ones on the ofensive against Satan and against damnation. We are also the only ones. Budhists aren't going to preach the gospel of Christ. Muslims aren't going to win souls to Jesus. Animists aren't going to hold anyone back from Hell. We are God's hands in this world and it is our sacred duty to fight for Him with the elements of this armor. With God's word and prayer. With faith, with righteousness and love, with truth and meekness and good deeds. And you know something? This breastplate we wear is backless. Roman armor was made backless because Roman soldiers were never supposed to retreat. Our empire is better than Rome, our mission more important, and our emperor far more worthy of our service than any caesar. Retreat is not an option for us.
It's sad that this is what has happened. We have retreated. Madeline Murry O'Hare took prayer away from our children, and we fell back. Darwin made the creator unwelcome in our institutions of learning, and we fell back. Roe negated the value of a baby's soul in the law's eyes and we fell back. The supreme court outlawed the ten commandments in our courthouses and we fell back. where does it stop? Do we lock ourselves out of the government which is supposed to answer to us, the people? Do we allow perverts to overwrite God's law? Do we allow them to force us to deny the truth of the very gospel we are here to proclaim?
To quote Captain Picard: "Not again! The line must be drawn here! This far and no further!"
Let others cowtow to the world and its leaders. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord, and as long as I have been entrusted with the leadership of this fellowship by God and by the members of this body, we will not only stand firm but we will advance. These shoes are going to go out into the world. With this sword and this shield, we will fight deception and injustice. By this helmet and this breastplate, we will stay true to the commandments of our God. By this belt, we will declare the truth, and by this breastplate, mantle and jewels, we will do all the work that God requires of us whether the world likes it or not.