With the recent rulings of the Supreme Court, significant decisions that drastically effect your life have been made. Most people have strong opinions on the subject, but a lot of people also don’t even know what to make of all this. The question that is at hand is, for the Christian, what does all this have to do with the gospel?
The gospel is what transforms people into new creations; it gives them new identities. But believer it or not, one thing that the gospel does not do, is assign people to political categories. Christians do not have to vote Republican or Democrat. They don’t have to be conservative or liberal. Christians don’t have to have a political identity.
What the gospel does do is allow us to see the world from God’s perspective. As it regards the Arizona immigration law, the gospel would call Christians to treat others as they would want to be treated. My wife and I live in China as missionaries, we are always so glad when we think about how the government and people treated us with such kindness. We know that we enjoyed the kindness shown to us in China, we know that other immigrants would appreciate the same kind treatment. While it is true that most immigrants are not fleeing life threatening situations (and therefore, in the opinion of some, do not deserve amnesty), they are fleeing to a better life in America, which are the ancestors of 99% of Americans the descendants of ancestors who fled here simply for a better life?
As regards the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Obama Health Care law, the same principle of the gospel applies. Loving your neighbor as yourself. Whatever political motives may have been behind the passing of the Obama Health Care law, the idea and guiding principle of the law is to provide health care coverage for those who could not otherwise afford it. Now, as to the question of whether or not this law actually accomplished that or not is something political ideologues are still debating. I do not wish to enter into such debate. The bottom-line is, that the gospel calls Christians to live in such a way that promotes the general welfare of society, and not the destruction of it. I think everyone can agree that society as a whole would be better off if everyone had affordable health care; the debate is as to the means.
Here is the bottom line for these political issues and, indeed, all political issues, the gospel calls the Christian to help, love, and serve the poor and unfortunate in our society. It is the Christian who should be at the forefront of these issues crying for and demonstrating kindness, care, and love to those in need. For in showing such kindness, care, and love the power of the gospel and God’s glory is also, and more importantly, shown.
When people adore others, they rarely, if ever, speak negatively about them. They only have good things to say about them. The phrase “singing it praises” comes from this idea. To adore something so much that you constantly and incessantly speak well of it is to “sing its praises.”
God is worthy of our praise and adoration. More than anyone else, God is “adorable.” He is more than able to be adored; he is worthy to be adored. That’s what Paul says is most important. Of all the things that we can do in service to God or on behalf of God, the most important thing is to praise God.
Praising God is not merely a mouthing of words; it is much bigger than that. Our words of praise should flow from a heart of adoration. Our praise should be the direct result of a genuine affection for God; affection for God is true worship.
In Isaiah 29:13 God says, “This people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me.” Empty ritualism is not true worship of God. Praising God with your lips while your heart pursues joy in status or stuff is hypocrisy. That is why Jesus himself used this verse against the Pharisees of his day (Matthew 15:7-9). The Pharisees were experts in putting on a show. They could appear on the outside to be devoted to God, but their hearts were consumed with self. They were preoccupied with getting praise and respect from others. All of their acts of righteousness were done to serve themselves; to make themselves appear great and thus win the praise of men.
The problem with the Pharisees was not that they didn’t praise God enough, or give God enough credit for the good things in their life. The problem with the Pharisees was that everything they did and every word of praise they uttered to God was done out of a heart that worshiped (valued and treasured) themselves more highly than God.
I love what David Powlison has to say about how the gospel relates to everyday life. So I’ve included his words below.
One criterion for evaluating proposals about how we should live as Christians is this family of questions, “Does this work for peasants and factory workers? Would this be plausible for a mother of pre-schoolers or a lonely man who is dying?” Jesus has a way with people facing trouble. The Bible works with people who get sweaty, weary or teary, who worry about money, who find pain and sickness a long hard road. It is for war-weary sufferers. Ministry works to make unassuming warriors with quiet courage and perseverance.
Here’s a companion question: “Does this work for strugglers?” Jesus has a way with people who feel their sins, who are tempted to drink too much, who get too angry too easily and can’t let it go, who are consumed by irrational fears and can’t even imagine an exit strategy. Scripture works with people who find it hard to walk in the light, and too easy to stumble and fall. Ministry works to make unsung heroes who learn to make small, difficult choices.
These problems of daily life are the flashpoint for our life in Christ—the places we need him, the places we seek him, the places we find him, the places where faith walks out into love. We meet Jesus in our troubles and in our struggles, our vulnerability to suffering and tendency to sin.
Jesus meets you in your pressures and preoccupations.
His underlying foundation sounds so unassuming: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Jesus meets you in your obsessions and compulsions.
His overarching goals sound so basic: “Love is patient. Love is kind. Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. Give thanks in all circumstances.”
Jesus calms drivenness and lightens burdens. He is making you a person of peace, peaceable, at peace, a maker of peace, abiding in the peace that passes all understanding. He’s good for the long hard road in the right direction. Jesus meets you every day and helps with everyday things.