Hi Shoreline Family and Friends,
As a church we have tried to do our very best to follow the biblical principle of submitting to governing authorities and yet at the same time be committed to obeying the Lord in worshiping together and making disciples of Jesus Christ. Our first and highest priority during this time has been to honor the Lord in what we do. I want to say a personal word of thanks: our church has been extremely faithful and gracious as we try to navigate a very difficult and complex set of circumstances. I am deeply thankful to the Lord for you and the privilege the Lord has given me to be your pastor.
A few weeks ago, the Supreme Court held in a New York case that the government cannot treat a church in a disparate way than the way secular establishments are treated. In other words, if people can go inside Costco or Lowes, they can go inside a church building. Additionally, the constitution actually gives religious activities greater protections than it does to other activities. Later they vacated several prior decisions and sent them back to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Ninth Circuit recently held in a Nevada case that churches cannot be treated differently than retail stores and any orders that do so are not legal orders. Since we fall under the jurisdiction of the Ninth Circuit, we can now continue to submit to our governing authorities and worship indoors at the same time.
Here is our plan beginning this Sunday (Dec 27).
As the pandemic is spreading more rapidly during these colder months, we want to be careful to do everything we can to keep it from spreading to others. If you are not feeling well, then please don’t come and join us online. If you have underlying health conditions or you are concerned about health concerns, then please join us online. The last thing we want is for someone to come and worship with us and become ill. For those joining us in person, I ask everyone to be especially cautious in the weeks ahead by practicing social distancing, wearing a mask, and using hand sanitizer.
Last and most important, I ask you to pray. Pray for God to give our governmental leaders wisdom. Pray for God to keep our church safe. Pray for God to grow our love for Him and one another. Pray for God to give us a humble spirit. Pray for us to trust the Lord and lean not on our own understanding. Pray for God to give us opportunities to share His love and grace in Jesus Christ. Pray for us to advance God’s glory in our lives and community. God has been so faithful to us through this time.
May God bless you and Merry Christmas,
I am sometimes asked why I do not focus more on politics. The simple answer is Jesus and the gospel. The mission of the church was given to us by Jesus in the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19- “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…” The mission of the church is not a political mission, it is a spiritual mission. Our mission as a church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ and we are to pursue it with the same monomaniacal tenacity as did Jesus and the apostles.
The mission of the church is simply a continuation of Jesus’ mission. Jesus said in Luke 19:10- “for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” The zealots and many of the people who followed Him wanted Jesus to affect political change because of their exceedingly wicked and corrupt government, but Jesus made clear He had a higher and eternal calling. Jesus said in Luke 4:43- “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent.” Who the president is and what the laws are over the next four years will not even be a footnote of history a million years from now, but those who come to faith in Christ will eternally shine like the stars of heaven (Daniel 12:3). I am not trying to minimize the temporal implications of political happenings; I am defending why Jesus and the apostles chose to pursue the preaching of the gospel and the making of disciples over temporal pursuits.
An essential aspect of making disciples is to speak and teach the truth of God, i.e., all things Jesus commanded. Jesus and the apostles addressed all sin issues, but always from a theological perspective and never from a political one. By doing so they made it clear our allegiance is to God and not man. Politics is often driven by compromise, but the Word of God never is. The church must address the moral issues of our day, but rather than saying, “Thus says the Republican or Democratic party…,” we should say, “Thus says the Lord our God.”
If the mission of Jesus and the apostles was a political one we would have to say it was an utter failure. Not only did they fail to affect any political change, they never even advocated for it. Their concern was not to change the government, their concern was to obey God. Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). The mission of the church is not external conformity, but internal transformation. Political transactions cannot cause a person to be born again, only the gospel of Jesus can transform the heart. However, does that mean following Jesus has no affect on how we view or approach politics? Not at all. In fact, it has everything to do with how we approach politics.
Christians are called to be salt and light in a dark and depraved world, and in a democracy like America that includes the political process. As Christians we are to seek to vote in such a way as to promote the upholding of righteousness and the punishment of evil (Romans 13:1-7)—both of which are biblically defined—and to understand by doing so we are honoring God. God often calls some individual believers to pursue the temporal good of society through being more active in politics, and for that we should all be thankful. Politics is a great calling as are many other callings, but they all pale in comparison to the call God has given believers to preach the gospel.
The church’s greatest temptation is for the good to become the enemy of the best. 1 John 2:15-17 says, “Do not love the world or the things in the world… the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” Politics is passing away and so will our love and desire for it, but our King and His kingdom will be eternal. May we never become more passionate about politics than we are about sharing the gospel or teaching God’s Word. The gospel of Jesus Christ alone “is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes.” If that is true and it is, then Christians should primarily be known for being passionate about the gospel of Jesus Christ more than anything else.
If you have any questions, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.