Doug Wilson just preached a sermon on Sunday addressing the governor and legislature of Idaho regarding their duty in response to the recent Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare.
You can read the full text of the sermon or watch/listen to the sermon here. And I would encourage you to do so.
Several thoughts in response:
1. Neither Pastor Wilson or myself are into political fire-eating frenzies. There are apocalyptic charades and crusades and chain emails going around trying to convince us all that some horrendous act of congress is just about ready to get passed that will require everyone to wear burlap underwear unless you call your senator now. And you can check most of them out on snopes and other helpful websites. At the same time, there really are times in which people ought to call their senators, really ought cry “fire!”, all of this while acknowledging that there is also the old ‘boy who cried wolf’ problem. A few people were really worked up about Y2K a few years back, and when they crawled out of their bomb shelters sometime after the new year, the world was carrying on just as it always had. But there is more than one way to read the story, and this leads me to the next point.
2. I actually think one of the most important points of the sermon was on the theme of courage. But what was so refreshing, so compelling, so glorious, so gut-wrenchingly convicting was the fact that in the first instance, courage was on display. And this isn’t some kind of good ole boy pat on the back or some kind of sick flattery. People who can’t see the courage displayed in the fact of a sermon like this being preached need to get their hearts checked. But we live in a time with such little actual courage that when it actually shows up in the flesh, it’s more offensive than anything to most of us. But that’s sort of the definition of courage: saying or doing that which is unpopular and full of risk all for the sake of what is right, for the sake of Jesus and His glory. Heroes only become heroes because lots of people thought they were wrong. You don’t exercise courage by playing it safe. This is why boys should be encouraged to play sports and war games. They will not grow up to take the right sorts of chances and know how to sacrifice their bodies for the sake of others if they do not practice when they are young and when the stakes are relatively low. But the same is true for grown ups and all men in particular: if you aren’t practicing courage in some areas now, in relatively low stakes areas, you won’t have any courage muscles to flex when the real moment of truth is staring you in the face. Courage is a virtue that must be kept at the ready: sharp, polished, and near. Courage is a virtue that must be practiced. This is why Jesus said woe to you if everyone likes all your Facebook and Twitter posts.
3. There is a huge difference between a unibomber wackjob who lives in an underground shelter in the middle of Montana and the wise and careful precautions of a Spirit filled child of God. But the same difference was in play but not as obvious when the desert dwelling grasshopper eater in a leather belt and camel skins took to yelling at first century kings and theologians in their robes and smartly donned suits and ties. In other words, uniforms and rhetoric are not enough to go on. John the Baptist started a political revolution that culminated in a Christendom that fully emerged, albeit in its infancy, 300 years later under the leadership of Constantine and Athanasius. But when John started hollering insults at the elites of his day, he looked and sounded more like a guy who might have been wearing one of those foil covered helmets and hoarding spam in his basement. The difference between right and wrong is always the difference between grace and sin, Spirit and flesh, God and the devil, Jesus and the all antichrist pretenders to His throne.
4. My personal opinion is that it is highly unlikely that God will use the governors of states to topple our Federal Idol. He might, and I would rejoice. But our God is the God of Hebrew midwives and old crazy men with walking sticks. God loves the weak and beggarly, God loves hobbits, God loves surprises. God loves to display His strength particularly in our weakness. While I believe it is the duty of Christians in every sphere of life to tell the truth, mock arrogant folly, and be faithful wherever God has placed them, and this includes asking our lesser magistrates to give tyrants the fig in the name of Jesus (as in this case), I fully expect that our reformation will burst out of something far more surprising: maybe a guilt ridden monk, maybe a grandmother with a godly bad attitude, maybe some teenagers on youtube. Of course at some point, if things get bad enough, governors may be the equivalent sorts of weaklings and maybe they already are, and so there is that. But let me be clear: this is only a passing thought and no real concern. As we lay siege to the gates of Hell, swinging our battering rams in faith, it doesn’t much matter where we crash through.
5. The central, take away point of the message is that Jesus is Lord and the Supreme Court is not, Congress is not, the President is not. And this means that whether someone has quibbles or questions about a particular reading of the constitution or the SCOTUS ruling, that hardly matters. The point really has almost nothing to do with the health care circus we find ourselves in. The point is that there is a God who created this universe, and He has spoken to us in intelligible words. He said such things as: You may not murder. You may not lie. You may not steal. You may not worship other gods. This God who has spoken is the God who rules over all things, and He has come to us in Jesus. Jesus is alive, and He is now Lord of heaven and earth. There are no other lords, no other gods, and there is no other salvation apart from Him. And so we could use thousands of more sermons just like this one. There are plenty of good idols to take a swing at in our day. Quibbling about whether this is the biggest idol or just a little squatty one in the courtyard of our nation’s pantheon is hardly helpful. Israel was commanded to tear down all the idols in Canaan, burn all the images, destroy all the shrines. If some Israelite got his knickers in a knot over the particular sledge hammer one of his brothers was using on the face of one of the Caananite fertility goddesses, that fussiness really only amounts to disobedience. You’re just getting in the way.
6. My prayer is that this sermon and thousands more like it go absolutely viral. We are a nation and church full of cowards. We are men afraid of the real sacrifice of leading a wife and loving little ones. We are afraid of confessing our sins and letting the blood of Jesus get into all the corners. We are afraid of being misunderstood, afraid of being misrepresented, afraid of being wrong, afraid of the trouble we will get in if we post a sermon like this on our facebook accounts, which is all to say that we are afraid of the cross of Jesus. And this is why we are a nation of heretics, we are mostly Mormons trying to be good, hoping for a good scifi ending to this bad grocery store novel. But Jesus didn’t die to prop up a bunch of corpses. Jesus didn’t get stapled naked to a tree in Palestine so we could toe dabble in His blood. Jesus didn’t die to leave us here. Jesus suffered, bled, and died with our nation, our families, our cities in mind. He knew their names. He knew our names. His blood was shed for our sorry land and all our sick, disgusting sin. And the good news is that we’re on the way down. This ship is sinking. And that’s good news because we serve the God of the sign of Jonah. We need to be born again, we need to die so we can live, we need to see our cowardice so we can cry out for courage.