So now that the fireworks are over…
As I told my people yesterday morning, I endeavor to never do two things in our church: preach the newspaper and preach the secular calendar. Nevertheless, I did both in one sermon, noting the passage of the republic’s birthday with a sermon addressing its recent demise.
And why do I say that the Republic has collapsed?
Because when a majority of five judges can redefine our constitution at a whim, creating ex nihilo “rights” – the existence of which they themselves recently denied, then they are tyrants.
Because it is one thing for that majority to forbid the government to do something (namely to prosecute infanticide – atrocious as that ruling was) but quite another for them to command the government to actively engage in immoral actions, and further to insist that the subject people of the nation participate and agree.
Because we may well possess inalienable rights, but we will not enjoy the exercise of those rights if they are ignored or denied by those in power.
Because when kings, emperors, justices, and other tyrants scream defiance at God, denying and subverting his image in his creatures, he laughs in the heavens…but he also sends his wrath.
We are a republic no more. The Evil Empire is alive and well, and its capital city is on the banks of the Potomac.
But all this is not fodder for the pulpit, and so the sermon I preached was something else. It was a contemporary application of Hebrews 13:7-16, a striking passage including both the declaration, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever,” and the encouragement, “For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.”
Thomas Becket preached this text upon his return to Canterbury shortly before his murder at the hand of Henry II’s knights. Becket was no angel in that controversy, but at least he had the right text!
As I said in the sermon, this passage contains everything we need to know, to believe, and to do when the nation we have loved in this world is crumbling around us, and so I decided to post it here. It serves as a comment on the current constitutional and moral crisis, and frankly, it would serve just as well if the situation became far worse – no one is being arrested yet, let alone killed! (sermon page and description here; mp3 download here).
What follows are merely a few excerpts:
Here, then, lies the Christian’s great hope. Our American citizenship may now be a meaningless relic of the days of the Republic, but Christ bore the exclusion from God’s city on our behalf, so that we cannot be kept out of the New Jerusalem when it arrives…
…The writer urges us to demonstrate faith by following Jesus outside the camp and bearing the same reproach which he endured. Is this not, after all, our great fear? The loss of privileged status and of closely guarded rights? We want to be happy Christians inside the American gates, but we must remember: Christianity’s true home has always been outside…
…Our submission and obedience have limits. We must obey God rather than tyrants and their mobs. Let your consciences be captive to the word of God; never submit to any demand that you sin – even that you speak the lies which have come to dominate our public discourse. And let me be clear: the rule of the tyrants stops at the door to the assembly. They have no authority here, not on Immanuel’s Ground…
…Our culture has come up with a very interesting definition of “love,” but their “love” is so grotesquely distorted that it does not deserve the name. They mean only the base pursuit of pleasure at any cost – even if it means the abuse of their own bodies and those of others. It does not take a prophet to know where such a culture of “love” must end. When men live for their own pleasure, when they have no ideal above a moment’s enjoyment, then they devour first one another and finally themselves. But we know what love is. It is found in sacrifice. It means sharing what we have. The church must be a sacrificial and giving community…
…Imagine: if God changes, then his Son changes. If his Son changes, then his love changes. And if his love can change, then what confidence can sinners like us ever have? Brothers and sisters, we do not need an uncertain, ever-changing Christ, we need the Rock and Fortress! We need the unmovable Christ! And that is the Christ we have.
Tom Chantry pastors CHRIST REFORMED BAPTIST CHURCH of Milwaukee, WI and is the co-author of HOLDING COMMUNION TOGETHER, a history of Reformed Baptists in the 20th and 21st centuries. He blogs at CHANTRYNOTES.