What if that politician was made in the image of God

It is election season in Canada, where I live. The signs are out on the lawns and along the road. The politicians are having their debates and going door to door. The pundits on the news and in articles are voicing pleasure and concern–who won or who lost the debate, or which candidate dirty past faux pás is the most damaging.

The big telltale sign that there is an election happening…

Facebook!

It is that time when everyone is sharing the articles and expressing their opinion toward each candidate.

What shocks me is the verbiage I hear and see Christians use when speaking of someone. I understand the politics can be dirty. I get that the decisions our leaders make, affect our lives in very real ways.

I hear words like,

Idiot
Pig
Stupid
Worthless

People expressing sentiments about wishing said politicians had never been born.

When I reflect on Scripture and words of Jesus, what I see is that these sentiments toward politicians are un-Chrisitan. I feel quite safe saying, anti-Jesus.

Genesis 1 states that we were all created in the image of God.
Psalm 139 says that we were created in our mother’s womb by God.
Jeremiah 29 declares that God has plans for a hope and a future.

The basic premise is that we need to see every person as a child of God who He loves–who God creates in His image.

When you call them a “moron” or “garbage,” you are calling God’s image-bearer, His child, whom He loves, names.

It doesn’t mean that you have to agree with their policies. It doesn’t mean that you can’t be critical of campaign promises, track records, and their integrity. We must understand, however, that this does not change the value of a person.

Politicians are people too.

They have parents. Siblings. Children. Spouses. Friends.

Most importantly, they have a God who loves them.

When we look at Jesus’ life, he had some very harsh words toward leaders. We do not see him calling names. Instead, we see word pictures calling out their integrity.

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!

Mt 23:13.

You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.

Mt 23:15

You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.

Mt 23:24

You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.

Mt 23:25–26

You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.

Mt 23:27

These are some harsh words! They address action and character, not a person’s value. Jesus loves them and wants to see them whole.

Jesus’ call to us is to be agents of His love. The Apostle points out in Romans 5:6 that when we were still totally opposed to who God is, He came and gave His life for us. As we have received grace, we are to extend that same grace forward.

After all, Jesus stated,

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

Mt 5:43–45

Next time you see one of those posts, brother and sister in Christ, I encourage you to pray for that politician. Pray God’s favour on them. Pray that God blesses them and reveals Himself to them in wonderfully new ways. Be willing to extend grace.

Let’s be people of love.

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3 ways you can know God’s will for your life

As a pastor, this is one of the biggest, hardest, and most common questions that I’m asked, “How can I know God’s will for my life?”

Pastors let’s be honest, it is one of the biggest, hardest, and most common questions we wrestle within our lives. We can sometimes frame it, “What is God’s will?” or “Where is God leading?” It all boils down to the same thing, we don’t know what we are doing.

I guess that’s why we call it, faith.

I believe that there are three ways we can know God’s will for our life. However, before we get into that, I need to point two things out.

1) As Christians, our primary goal has been spelled out in Matthew 28. We are to go telling of the Good News, making disciples, and teaching them to obey. That means it doesn’t matter what you do, whether a sanitization worker or the Pope if you are making disciples you are not outside of God’s will.

2) God isn’t trying to trip you up. He isn’t waiting for you to make a mistake so he can charge you with a demerit as though he is some corporal camp counsellor. God isn’t angry when you make the wrong decision. Hurt? Sad? Yes! Just as I am disappointed when my kids do the opposite of what I tell them. Are there consequences? Yes, but they don’t lose child status. As you try and discover God’s “will” for your life, remember to do your best and invite the Holy Spirit to help you.

Now that we have those two points prefaced here are three

1) You prayed, and it feels right to you.

You have prayed, and you feel at peace. You may not think it is the best idea (or maybe you do), you may not even feel that you’re qualified (which you may not be), but that never stopped God. Look throughout the Scriptures, and you will find a motley crew, both men and women, who God used to change the world in big and small ways which were not qualified and often God’s plan for them was anything but logical.

It’s not a question of whether it makes sense or that you’re qualified, or whatnot, it is a matter of inviting God into the process and allowing Him to give you the peace and strength you need.

2) Test in Community

Even the apostle Paul brought what God had called him to before others. We need trusted people in our life who we can share what we believe God is saying to us. These need to be people who have shown that they, in faith, have followed God’s will for their lives. They need to be people of wisdom. They need to be people who aren’t going to blab (loose lips sink ships), and you need more than one.

How do you know it’s not some crazy idea you concocted yourself? How do you know it wasn’t the leftover pizza you ate last night. Community is a resource in this area. As you seek God’s face together, you can ask the Holy Spirit to speak to each of you regarding the situation and compare notes.

These two steps are incomplete without the third, and vis versa.

3) Test with the Scriptures.

We have the blessing of ancient wisdom that God inspired. The book of 1 Timothy, Paul, tell us it is “God-breathed.” The church has wrestled with what that means exactly, but what we know is that the Bible is essential, it’s vital, and it presents incredible wisdom.

When it comes to testing where God is leading with Scripture, we need to ask ourselves, is this contradictory to what the Scriptures say?

The big mistake is when we use Scripture alone. When you read and apply Scriptures within the silo of you, you can make it say anything you want (i.e. the Crusades, local immigration enforcement). However, if you invite others into this process (remember step two), you have dramatically increased the intelligence in the room.

These three steps, never working alone but functioning as a unit, they are vital steps to help you make the best decisions when trying to live in the will of God.

Are there other steps? Let me know some of your principles in the comments below.

3 things to get the most out of Sunday

If you are a regular church-goer then Sunday, more than likely, is the day when you gather with others who are on the same spiritual journey as you.

There are many reasons why we do this. To learn, be challenged, and fellowship with others, are to name a few. There are, however, times when this does not happen. It is quite easy to walk away from a Sunday service and feel, was that it? 

Whether you have felt like that or you always walk away satisfied, there are three things you can do before Sunday ever happens so that you can get the most out of Sunday (or whichever day you meet).

I break them down to heart, body, and mind.

1) Heart

This may seem obvious, but to get the most out of Sunday, you need to prepare your heart. But what does it mean to prepare your heart? 

To prepare your heart begins with prayer. Prayer is about repentance, thanksgiving, petition, lament. 

Consider prayers like this the tenderiser and your heart the meat. Now the Sunday becomes the grill. While not the perfect analogy, I hope you can get the picture. 

Sunday is a time when God speaks to His body corporately, which you are a part of. As Greg Boyd writes,

“…our heart conditions our ability to see and understand spiritual truths…”

You need to do your part to set aside the weekly distraction in order to hear what God is saying, which leads us to the second one.

2) Body

I’m not talking about spiritual jumping jacks or shoulder exercises so you can hold your hands up longer. Body has nothing to do with your physical body.

As mentioned previously, your part of the body of Christ. As a member of that body, you need to help the body get ready for what God is saying to His Church. You have just as much of a responsibility to help prepare the body for game day (to use a sports slogan), as anyone else.

Call someone up form your church have coffee, maybe lunch, or a someone for dinner and discuss spiritual matters. If your church has small groups, engage in them. Proverbs states that we are to be,

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”

Proverbs 27:17. 

A great way to get the most out of Sunday is to engage others with what God is doing in your life, their life, and the church as a wholes life.

3) Mind

Depending on your tradition, this is either over or underemphasized. In most cases, it’s the latter. Surprisingly, it is almost demonized. Yet, Jesus told us to love him with all our mind (Mark 12:30, Mark 12:33, Luke 10:27).

Here’s the thing, it’s easy to be lazy. When you are lazy with your mind on spiritual matters, you do your self a disservice. Most churches nowadays do series. That means you can know the topic of the series and the Scripture before it ever comes. Pick up a commentary and do a little study. Even if you’re not a reader, it’s easy to either read a verse or listen to it. Once you do that, think about it, talk about it, pray about it. You can even find other sermons or podcasts on that Scripture.

Even if you don’t know what is coming next, you know what has happened. Engage the previous Sunday. Talk, pray, and think. Do as much as you can to engage the text and hear what God is speaking to you through it.

If you do these three, I guarantee that you will get the most out of your Sunday experience.

Checkout the resources used in this blog

Prayer isn’t a strategy; it’s communication

The other day I was listening to a two church leaders talk about all the different strategies to help your church grow. The guest, while speaking of the different strategies they utilized and put resources together for, the guest referenced their resource for strategic prayer.

Prayer is a great strategy.

Saying this, I am unsure if we should be totting prayer as a strategy. What they were referencing are strategic prayers that will help grow your church.

Is prayer important? YES!

Does God want more people to attend your church? Probably (if it’s dysfunctional, God wants function then growth).

It just doesn’t sit right.

After all, prayer is a conversation between the Almighty God and the people whom he loves.

Prayer denotes intimacy. It isn’t the cloud downloading knowledge, it is fostering a relationship.

Imagine you’re happily married (maybe you don’t have to, perhaps it’s just the happily part… for another blog). Now pretend that you had strategic conversations with your spouse. This conversation would be to help your interests.

But you’re not to have your own interests. Marriage is a partnership.

We need to pray that the Holy Spirit prepares hearts. We need to pray for strength and diligence to tell of the Good News of Jesus’ incredible love. However, prayer isn’t a strategy to increase your platform or increase your metrics. Prayer isn’t a strategy; it’s communication with God.

What do you think? How have you seen prayer used?