Read Ephesians 1:8b-23
There was a time in the United States when the presence of a Christian church in a neighborhood was a positive feature, even if you didn’t belong to that church. But today, if you want to build a church, you are lokely to be condemned at the zoning board hearing as being a disruptive influence on the neighborhood.
The church was once a powerful institution in the western world. People would listen to the church. Even if they didn’t agree with or follow the church. But today the attitude of many Americans toward the church ranges from total indifference to outright hostility. The church is most acceptable in our society when it stays in its place. When it doesn’t get involved with politics or social issues. Doesn’t speak out against the evils of society. Doesn’t point to the reality of sin in the world. The church is okay as long as it keeps a low profile and doesn’t take up too much taxable land. And when it sticks to saving individual souls. The church has to a great extent adapted to that expectation.
The church today is much like the church to whom this letter was written in the first century. Then and now, the church is all too often not aware of the power that it has been given by God, and therefore does not use that power.
The power that the writer of our scripture is talking about isn’t power just for the sake of being stronger than someone else. It it the power authorized by God for a specific purpose. Power to participate in the accomplishment of God’s purposes. Power to cooperate wityh God in order to accomplish God’s plan. The writer explains God’s plan. It is “to bring all creation together, everything in heaven and on earth, out of a chaotic situation, characterized by an ideal relationship between God, humanity, and the natural world. Humanity has upset God’s plans so far. But through Christ God has assured that the plan is being fulfilled, in God’s time and God’s way. History is slowly but constantly moving in that direction – with or without us.
God has chosen to establish the church to participate in the fulfillment of God’s purpose. God has granted power to the church to do so. Specifically, it is the power of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. The power which God has given to Jesus, over all persons and all things. That same power is given to the church. That’s why the writer says that the church is the body of Christ. The church is Christ at work in the world. God has chosen the church to be the means by which God’s plan will be accomplished.
As we approach election day in the USA, it is good to bear in mind that voting is one way in which we participate in God’s purpose, and to be reminded of what that purpose was and still is. This is also a time to decide to use the power which God has given the church so that we can participate in the fulfillment of that purpose. This is a good time to remember that the church does not only exist when Christians gather within the church building and conduct familiar church activities. The church also exists when individual Christians are scattered in the pursuit of their daily lives.
This s a good time to remember that as individual Christians , on Election Day, we are the church in the voting booth, just as much as we are the church in the church sanctuary. Yes, this is a good time to remember God’s purpose. The establishment of God’s perfectly ordered creation – the kingdom of God. It is a good time to remember that at the present there is separation and division – between nations, between groups and societies, between families, between individuals, and even within ourselves. Most of all, there is a separation between humanity and the natural world and God – and it is called sin.
This is a good time to consider where our loyalty lies – with our individuals selves, familiy our social groups, our nation, state, or municipality – or with God. If our loyalty is with God, then each of us must choose those candidates who we believe are most likely to develop and carry out policies and programs which lead toward fulfillment of God’s purpose of unity within all of creation. Not necessarily the candidate who will do the most for you and your family and your nation.
Yes, many people, even many Christians, say that the church has no business getting involved in politics. But they are wrong. It is the church’s business to be involved wherever there is opportunity to participate with God in moving humanity toward the fulfillment of God’s plan. It its the church’s business because it is Jesus’ business, and the church is the body of Christ. As part of that body it is our business to vote. And it is our business to vote as though we are Jesus in the voting booth. Because we are in fact acting in the name of Jesus in the voting booth.
Grace and peace, Ray
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