• Phill Tague

This past Sunday, we continued our series “The Great Politician.” Our goal with this series is simple: To reorient our trust back where it belongs- In Christ and Christ alone. We are not taking a political stance or pushing an agenda. We are simply trying to communicate where we believe scripture points us when it comes to the critical issue of where we place our trust. In our message from this last week, we poked the hot button issue of immigration. It’s hard to think of another issue that brings out emotions on both sides in the church. Again, it is not my goal to take sides with this topic- I simply want to point us to God. Throughout both the Old Testament and the New Testament, God never wavers on his love for the outcast. It is a consistent theme from the beginning to the end of scriptures. When it comes to the issue of immigration in our country, there’s a lot of fear that swirls around this topic. That fear doesn’t come from a lack of compassion, though it often leads to less than compassionate responses. Rather, I believe fear here comes from a lack of understanding. This was just as true with God’s people in the Old Testament. Therefore, change your hearts and stop being stubborn. “For the Lord your God is the God of gods and Lord of lords. He is the great God, the mighty and awesome God, who shows no partiality and cannot be bribed. He ensures that orphans and widows receive justice. He shows love to the foreigners living among you and gives them food and clothing. So you, too, must show love to foreigners, for you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt. (Deuteronomy 10:16-19 NLT) Notice what God calls out first and foremost: Our stubbornness. Stubbornness is often driven by fear, and fear is often a result of lack of understanding. And lack of understanding often results from forgetfulness. Let me show you what I mean. This scripture says specifically that God shows no partiality. He doesn’t play favorites. His will doesn’t allow for injustice, and he ensures justice by loving not only His people, but ALL people- including those foreign to us. Question: Is the world full of injustice? Wherever injustice exists in the world, that is a place where the world has fallen short of God’s divine will. Injustice often goes hand in hand with fear and misunderstanding. This is not God’s will. And this is the very place God’s people should be most active in trying to bring justice into the world. The places where we allow injustice to exist are the places where we are settling for less than all of God. But here’s what that means…

So you, too, must show love to foreigners, for you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt. (Deuteronomy 10:19 NLT) Translation: Put yourselves in their shoes. Do you remember what it was like before you met Jesus? Israel knew full well what it felt like to be a stranger in a foreign land. And perhaps you remember what it was like before you were a child of God. But more likely, you have actually forgotten what it was like. And that is the problem. Forgetfulness leads to lack of understanding, which leads to fear, which breeds stubbornness. And yet God is calling us to exactly the opposite. He is calling us to remember. Remember how you want to be treated. Remember the love you needed when you were an outsider. Remember I love them like I love you. Immigration is still a difficult topic today. And it will be tomorrow. But knowing what God would have us do isn’t difficult. It’s easy. In the midst of the controversy, be compassionate. Never forget who you were. Never forget who Christ wants you to be for the alien and stranger among us. To learn more about the realities of immigration, CLICK HERE for an immigration fact sheet.

This past Sunday, we continued our series “The Great Politician” by wrestling with where we truly place our trust in this life. Though we believe it’s incredibly important to vote for the candidate you think will best represent us, we want to remind all of us...that is all that person can do. They are a representative. They are not a Savior. Truly, there is not now, nor will there ever be, a Savior in the White House.

To summarize Sunday’s conversation, we used one phrase: Be a Tree, not a Shrub. This is all about rootedness. Spiritual trees are rooted in faith, but spiritual shrubs are rooted in fear. Faith in God in all circumstances is what will sustain us long term. But far too often, we are a lot more like spiritual shrubs...rooted in fear rather than in faith. When things are good, everything is fine. But things are not good right now. And for so many Christians, our faith has gone into survival mode. It has shriveled up a bit in light of the current conditions, because fear can never feed us the way being rooted in our faith can.

This picture of a shrub in the desert in scripture likely refers to a specific shrub, known as the Arar (in Hebrew), which sounds similar to the Hebrew word for cursed (Arur) and is part of a wordplay in this passage. Apparently this tree is often called “The Cursed Lemon” because it grows in the desert salt lands that surround the Dead Sea where Sodom and Gomorrah (two biblical cities that were destroyed by God) used to be. According to legend, when God destroyed Sodom, he cursed the fruit of this tree. When you open the fruit of this tree, it literally makes a “pssst” sound, and is hollow and filled with webs, dust and a dry pit.

But here’s what’s most interesting...on the outside, the shrub looks healthy. The outside projects a health that the fruit doesn’t live up to.

So what does that mean to us? So many things. It means it truly matters where you are rooted. It means our faith is truly tested in the dry times and not when things are good. It means you can look the part on the outside, but your soul can only be as healthy as the soil it’s planted in. It means it matters where you’re planted.

“But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit. (Jeremiah 17:7-8 NLT)

Be a tree, not a shrub.

  • Phill Tague

This past Sunday, Pastor Jared Bell kicked off our newest series: The Great Politician. (Yup, we went there). If you know anything about The Ransom Church, you know we want to shout where scripture shouts and whisper where scripture whispers. You also know we tend to avoid political conversations. And yet here we are, talking about politics. What gives?

You can be sure our approach hasn’t changed. In no way will you see us taking sides or supporting certain candidates or anything like that. Though we believe in the power of the democratic process and though we support and even encourage you to vote your heart, we do not feel it is our place to tell you how you should vote. So what IS the place of the church?

It is our job to be politically incorrect. Here’s what I mean...

Our world is divided, often right down party lines. In the world we are living in, it is politically incorrect to not take sides. And yet as we look to scripture with a desire to model our lives after Christ, that’s exactly what we see Him do. Christ never bent God’s standards. He simply proclaimed them. They were the measuring stick. They were the plumbline. This is why churches cannot and should not align themselves with a particular candidate or political party- because none of them are the standard.

Jesus Christ is the only standard. Our job is not to tell you who or what to vote for. Our job is to help you align your lives to Christ, and to teach you to measure everything using Christ as your measuring stick. He is what should inform your vote. He is what should cause you to get behind whatever political candidate or agenda you are behind. Jesus Christ is the standard, everything we hear on stage, read online, or see happen must be held up to the truth found in God’s word. If the they don’t match up, we don’t throw out the Bible, we throw out that other source. The Word of God should be the standard, not a particular candidate or party. I know, I know - even saying that is politically incorrect, And I’m okay with that.

But here’s the deal...as followers of Jesus, we are citizens of His kingdom, As such, political correctness is defined differently. When Christ is your Savior, to put your faith in anyone or anything other than Him... THAT would be politically incorrect. More on that next week...

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