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Recognizing the Limits of Politics

Saul from Tarsus was a member of the Pharisees, a religious zealot, and a Roman citizen. However, even as a religious man, there are politics inside the house of God. Take for example a man named Nicodemus who approached Jesus under the cover of darkness, afraid of what his friends would think, John 3:1-5. Like a high school jock in the hallway, Nick is sarcastic with Jesus, making a joke while responding.

The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch upon the evil and the good, Proverbs 15:3.

When Saul changed his name to Paul following his conversion on the Road to Damascus, politics was used on a few occasions. As a Roman citizen, Paul played this card after being arrested in Philippi, Acts 16:35-39. Meanwhile, when the same Jewish leaders who crucified Jesus wanted to accuse Paul of a similar crime, he appealed to Caesar so he could share his testimony to the government in Rome.

Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and the earth is Yours; Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and Yours it is to be exalted as Head over all, 1 Chronicles 29:11.

Paul’s arrest, trial and subsequent death as a martyr illustrates that politics has its limits. While modern day politicians in America are like exclusive members of a private country club, God is still in control whether they like it or not. The eyes of the Lord are in every place, and no one is exempt, even politicians from God’s judgement, Matthew 12:36. Therefore, lean on the Lord and not politics, Proverbs 3:5-6.

by Jay Mankus

When the Christian Community Gets Upset by God’s Grace

During my second year in youth ministry, I became in charge of the Confirmation process for 8th graders. The final event prior to the Confirmation Ceremony was a weekend retreat. Over this 48 hour period, one girl made a complete transformation. Prior to this decision, she was cruel, mean and wrecked many relationships throughout the church. Thus, when she made a commitment to dedicate her life to the Lord, several of her peers got angry at God.

So he ran on ahead and climbed up in a sycamore tree in order to see Him, for He was about to pass that way. And when Jesus reached the place, He looked up and said to him, Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today. So he hurried and came down, and he received and welcomed Him joyfully. And when the people saw it, they all [a]muttered among themselves and indignantly complained, He has gone in to be the guest of and lodge with a man who is devoted to sin and preeminently a sinner, Luke 19:4-7.

On one first century visit to Jericho, Jesus encountered a similar situation. A short corrupt tax collector climbed a tree tried to get Jesus’ attention. Whatever Zacchaeus did to get recognized worked as Jesus left the crowd to have a private meeting at his house. Knowing Zacchaeus’ horrible reputation, members of the crowd questioned why in the world that Jesus would want to spend any time with this crook. Before even entering into a conversation, the community got upset with the possibility of God’s grace.

And immediately in the synagogues he proclaimed Jesus, saying, He is the Son of God! 21 And all who heard him were amazed and said, Is not this the very man who harassed and overthrew and destroyed in Jerusalem those who called upon this Name? And he has come here for the express purpose of arresting them and bringing them in chains before the chief priests, Acts 9:20-21.

The apostle Paul experienced this judgment following his conversion on the Road to Damascus. As a former persecutor of Christians and who oversaw the death of the apostle Steven, first century Christians were afraid of Paul. Some believed this was merely a plot to infiltrate the church. If it wasn’t for Barnabas who earned the nickname as the son of encouragement, Paul would have been banned from the church. Therefore, the next time someone in your church gets upset by God’s grace, be willing to give others a second chance with a heart of forgiveness and mercy.

by Jay Mankus

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