Pentecost 21, 2016
2 Timothy 2:1-13
"Election Year Advice"
Grace, mercy, and peace be to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Will Rogers once said: "The more you observe politics, the more you have to admit that each party is worse than the other." Groucho Marx said: "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedies."
I think a common theme I have heard this election year is this: "how did we get stuck with these candidates?" The sad truth is that it's collectively our own fault. Today I am going to offer some election year advice even as I clearly believe no Pastor should endorse or sway voters from the pulpit. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ: "Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish." (Psalm 146:3-4) Trust not in earthly rulers...men or women...who are mortal and will one day die. Trust not in any person that cannot save you. Instead put your trust in Christ alone and remember that "blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever; who executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry." (Psalm 146:5-7)
We live in a time where hardships, struggles and persecution are quickly becoming the norm. We have brothers and sisters in Christ around the globe that have been martyred for their faith; many in Northern Africa and the Middle East. We have fellow believers whose churches have been bulldozed by their government in China. Faithful Pastors in Canada that preach that homosexuality is a sin may face fines and jail time for hate speech. Many Christians are growing weary in their fight to remain faithful. It is discouraging to be called bigots by those we love for standing firm in the faith. It is disheartening that others believe that those who believe and teach the truth of Scripture are full of hatred. It is heartbreaking that families are torn apart over religion and politics. Many, including our government, are at the center of the fight against religious freedoms. Is there a candidate out there that can make everything right again? No. So do we give up? No. As Christians we stand firm in our faith and do what believers have done for a millennia: We put our trust and hope in Christ.
When our text was written Saint Paul was imprisoned in Rome. He wrote to a young Pastor, Timothy, who was growing weary in his fight against sin and the power of Satan; both as an individual believer and as a Pastor on the front lines of a fight against a society bent on the persecution of Christians. Scripture tells us those times will return. It will be bad. "They will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved." (Matthew 24:9-13)
Saint Paul reminds Timothy and us that although this life will not be smooth sailing and we will face hardships that our hope and our joy are not found in this world but in Christ and the promise of everlasting life with Him in paradise.
"Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops." (2 Timothy 2:3-6) Share in the suffering that is found in remaining faithful. Persevere in this life to receive the crown of salvation. Work hard by remaining faithful and you will share in everlasting life. That is our hope that we have in Christ.
"Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself." (2 Timothy 2:8-13)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ this election year...and every year...remember that Christ has died and risen for you. Even if the day comes in your life time that Pastors and Christians are imprisoned for remaining faithful...the Word of God cannot be bound. Let us therefore, like Paul, continue standing firm in the faith and sharing the truth of God's Word out of love for others that they too might be saved. Let us risk everything in this life so that our loved ones may have eternal life in heaven with us.
In baptism we have died with Christ and we will also live with him in paradise. Endure in the faith for you will receive the crown of life. Remember that Christ remains faithful. Even when our Lord was despised and rejected He remained faithful and died for the sins of the world. Even when we stumble and fall...Christ remains faithful and forgives our sins, restores our faith, and carries us home.
My only advice to you this election year...this November... vote your conscience. Inform yourself as best possible. Pray for guidance. Pray for your nation. Pray for forgiveness. But put your trust not in the princes of this world but in Christ alone. For Christ alone is able to save. Christ alone has died for your sins. Christ alone promises true hope and peace. Your sins are forgiven. Heaven is your home. Amen.
Now may the peace of God which passes all human understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. Amen.