Going Deeper 11-19-19

The first reading for Christ the King Sunday...

Jeremiah 23:1-6   1 Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! says the Lord. 2 Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who shepherd my people: It is you who have scattered my flock, and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. So I will attend to you for your evil doings, says the Lord. 3 Then I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the lands where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. 4 I will raise up shepherds over them who will shepherd them, and they shall not fear any longer, or be dismayed, nor shall any be missing, says the Lord. 5 The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 6 In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. And this is the name by which he will be called: "The Lord is our righteousness."


A few years ago I preached a sermon on the implications of this text for pastors, as that title literally means “shepherd.”  This morning, I would like to focus on how it applies (and doesn’t apply) to our political leaders at every level of government, from local to national.  Yes, I know… I have been focused way more than usual on politics the past couple of weeks.  As I do, I will continue to address the entire spectrum of leadership, not one side or the other.  As I heard someone say on a video that a pastor/mentor sent me last evening, for Christians now is not the time “to go right or left, but to go deeper.”


Of course, things are structurally different in our country than they were in Israel, which had been instructed by God to understand itself as a type of theocracy, with God as the ultimate King and Israel’s leaders serving under His guidance and authority.  To a degree, that does ideally apply to our political leaders.  But in Israel, there was supposed to be one official national religion.  In our country, our forefathers established a form of government where no single religion was to be understood as the official national religion.


As we all know and (hopefully) appreciate, Christians were very influential in the founding of our country and in the development of our forms of government.  And that continues to be our calling… to be influential.  We can make a difference through our voting and our activism, through how we conduct ourselves and how we speak to others.  We can make a difference by both praying for our political leaders and holding them accountable for their actions (or inaction). 


What is vitally important is how we understand what this all looks like.  Out text provides important guidance: we must elect and support leaders who follow the example of Jesus-- even if they do not believe in Him!  Jesus was the “righteous Branch” from the line of David, who executed “justice and righteousness” in the land.  And we know how He did it!  Yes, He was aggressive we necessary… especially with the religious “shepherds” who had lost their way and were “blind guides.”  But Jesus was overwhelmingly humble, compassionate, and kind.  He taught a different way of living and leading—the way of a servant.


The foundation for all of this is for God’s children to continue to “go deeper” in our relationship with our Abba Father and Brother Jesus, inspired and empowered by the Holy Spirit.  We must continue to seek to more and more fully have the eyes, mind, heart, and spirit of Jesus clarify our values and drive our actions… including within the political realm.  As I have been saying, if God’s children, the Church, does not stand as one and lead the way for healing and change in our nation, I honestly fear for our future.


With You in His Service,

Mark Gabbert, Pastor
Zion Lutheran Church
Wellington, Colorado

"No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care."