- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 14, 2004

The following are excerpts of a sermon given recently by Joshua Harris, a senior pastor at Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg.

It is an old adage that you shouldn’t bring up religion and politics in polite conversation. We are going to talk about both today, about how our faith as Christians should shape our involvement in civil society. …

We’re often described as the land of the blue states and the red states. How should we as Christians act in this highly charged political environment? …

The culture war is real … but our perspective of it and our involvement in it as Christians must be shaped by the Gospel. The cross gives us a new identity and a new mission in the culture war. …

The real culture war isn’t about Republican versus Democrat, liberal versus conservative, right wing versus left wing, rural versus metropolitan, Hollywood versus family values, or George Bush versus John Kerry. The real culture war is this: the kingdom of God versus godless humanity.

This is the ultimate definition of the culture war. It started with the fall of mankind. It started when our race rebelled against our Creator. It is a cosmic and spiritual struggle. It is sinful mankind standing in defiance against the reign and rule of a holy God. That’s what is behind the culture war.

This struggle is over souls — the eternal destinies of men and women. And the only thing that can rescue those who are opposed to God is the overwhelming grace of God expressed in the cross. Only the Gospel can transform a human life.

And that is why it is important for us to remember that we’re not gathered here today first and foremost as Americans. … You see, we all have a dual citizenship. We’re citizens of this world, we are citizens of individual countries, but we are also, and primarily, citizens of heaven. That is where our first allegiance is. And that understanding, that eternal perspective, gives us a proper perspective of what we’re involved in here, in the daily issues of living out our faith in a world that is opposed to our great God. And that understanding of our true citizenship doesn’t cause us to be apathetic. Instead, it informs all that we do with meaning and with purpose beyond the next election or the current bill that is before the Congress. …

In Matthew 5:13-16, Jesus is speaking to his disciples and telling them about their identity and their mission. And this can be summed up in two words: salt and light.

Now, when Jesus was first teaching and he said to his disciples, “You are the salt of the earth,” they had a much clearer understanding of the value of salt. It was a very valuable item in their day. At one point, Roman soldiers actually received their salaries in the form of salt. Jesus says that we are to play a part in preventing the decay, the moral decay, of the world we live in. …

You are called to oppose the sinfulness of this world, to stand out for righteousness and, in that way, preserve and prevent the world from becoming as sinful as it could be.

Look back at Matthew 5:14-16 for what Jesus tells us about our identity: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

What does it mean for us to shine our light? It’s a life of godliness, righteousness and a life of selfless service lived out for others to see. It’s big things and it’s small things. It might mean being the one person in the office who doesn’t engage in gossip and backstabbing. It might be in those words of kindness and encouragement. …

What’s so vital to remember as we are surrounded by this struggle taking place in our country — we must remember that our allegiance must be to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It must not be first and foremost to a political party or candidate. We must be defined by, we must be owned by, the cross and guided by the word of God, and not by the labels and divisions of our culture.

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