Justice and the Family of God

As Christians, We Are Called To Love Our Neighbors

Dan Franklin
Nov 6, 2022    43m
As Christians, love is not optional, love is at the center of who we are as believers in Jesus. Scripture teaches us that love is a justice issue, a command from Jesus, and we owe it to one another to love our neighbors. Video recorded at Upland, California.

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Intro: [00:00:00] Hey there. Thanks so much for checking out one of our messages here at Life Bible Fellowship Church. And we know there are two great ways you can connect with us. You can visit our website at LBF.church to learn more about all of our ministries and what we believe. And also, you can subscribe to us on YouTube to make sure that you don't miss one of our future videos.

Dan Franklin: [00:00:19] Amen! Good morning, church family. All right, I'm excited about what we're going to get to do today. By the way, just in case you're wondering, all the stuff that's back there, is back there on purpose. We're going to talk about that later on, that's not just left over from a banquet that we had here.

Dan Franklin: [00:00:37] Today, if you haven't been around lately, today we are in the ninth week of a ten-week series that we're calling Justice and Mercy. And we've been spending just this fall season talking about justice and mercy as the key ways that the sign that we belong to Jesus goes out to the world. And so we've talked about a lot of things in light of this, and we've talked about definitions at different times. Especially about justice, because there's a really important definition of justice that we've been working with during this entire series, and that definition of justice says this, it says, "To do justice is to give to people what they are owed."

Dan Franklin: [00:01:17] Now, to be clear, when we're talking about living out justice and mercy in our community, this is not the gospel itself, this is us playing out the gospel. We just got to sing through the center of the gospel, your cross, my freedom, your stripes, my healing. Did anybody need that this morning? Did anybody need to remember that Jesus, when he suffered for us, died for our sins to bring us into the family? That is our message, our message is not to go and do justice, our message is through the grace of God, he has brought us into the family of God through the sacrifice of Jesus. But at the center of this sign that we belong to Jesus, and the way that we show the gospel to the world is how we live out justice and mercy, and to do justice is to give people what they are owed.

Dan Franklin: [00:02:16] And here's what we're going to get to see today, in a unique way, as we walk through this passage that was just masterfully read by David Aaron Franklin, as we walk through this passage, here's what we're going to see, we're going to see something that we owe to one another that may surprise us. When we think of justice, there may be things that come into our minds about what we owe to one another, but we're going to be surprised by something that the Apostle Paul is going to tell us we owe to one another. That's in Romans chapter 13 verses 8 through 10, so if you have a Bible, try to get there, if you're using your phone as a Bible, go ahead and get there. I will have the verses up on the screen. And before we get to our verses, I actually want to go back one verse for context. So we're going to actually start with verse 7 to give us a running start to what he talks about in verses 8 through 10.

Dan Franklin: [00:03:02] So here's the deal, Romans 13:1-7, a famous passage, is about how Christians are meant to respond to the governing authorities around us, how we're meant to be in submission to the governing authorities. So let me put verse 7 up on the screen, or if you have a Bible, you can just look down at verse 7, it says this, "Give to everyone what you owe them." That's justice language, right? Justice is giving to people what we owe them. He says, all right, give to everyone what you owe them, and then he gives four examples of what we might give. If you owe taxes, pay taxes. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. Some of you are like if we could just have lower taxes. Some of you are like I think the rich should be taxed more. Some of you think taxation is theft, you don't get support for that in the Bible, I'm sorry. It says if you owe taxes, pay taxes. If you owe revenue, pay revenue. And that's just pretty straightforward, if you buy something, pay what you owe, even if it's on a payment plan, even if you're taking out a loan for that, if revenue, give what you owe. And then he gives two other elements that aren't financial, he says if respect, then respect: and if honor, then honor.

Dan Franklin: [00:04:14] And just think about this, this is significant because what he says with these two, this is tied to giving respect and honor to position, not necessarily to behavior. It's easy to respect people who are respectable, right, we probably don't need to be commanded to do that. Respect and honor are commanded because sometimes there are people that God puts in a position that deserves respect, and we even see these words played out in personal and more corporate relationships. Wives are called to respect their husbands. Children are called to honor their father and mother. And so we can look at that, and the commands are not determined by saying how respectful or how honorable is this person, the idea is there are certain positions that deserve respect and honor, and we owe that. And because of the context, the main thing Paul has in mind here is probably governing authorities.

Dan Franklin: [00:05:08] I'll just share with you real quick, something that I tried to start practicing probably about a decade ago, is to make sure every time I referred to somebody who is in political office, I refer to them by their title. The president, the governor, the senator, however, it is. So that I'm training myself to remember that even if I didn't vote for them, and even if I don't really approve of the job that they're doing, I'm still giving the respect and the honor that I owe to that person.

Dan Franklin: [00:05:38] So verse 7 is all about, giving everyone what you owe them. And that sets the context for Paul saying this in verse 8, "Let no debt remain outstanding, except..." We'll get to the except, but this is the whole context, give everybody what you owe them. So he says, let no debt remain outstanding. He's not saying Christians can't take on debt, he's just saying if you have debt, pay the debt off faithfully. "Let no debt remain outstanding, except..." He says there's a debt I'm going to tell you about, there's something that you owe, there's an element of justice that you're never going to get done paying off.

Dan Franklin: [00:06:17] I remember I was probably about 17 years old when my parents made their last mortgage payment. Some of you have probably been there, some of you have done it, and if not, maybe you've done that with a car, and you mail in the final payment, or you give the final payment on a student loan. Does it feel good to finally have that off your back? All right, the last debt. Paul is saying here, there's a debt that you're never going to have that way, there's a debt that you're never going to say, I'm done with this. And here's what he says, he says, "Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another." Apparently, Paul is viewing love as a matter of justice, you owe this, you have a debt to love one another. This is surprising to many of us because we could think of love as something that's much more optional. But he says love is something that you owe to others, and by the way, you're never going to get done paying it off, you're never going to get to the point that you say, I have loved this person enough.

Dan Franklin: [00:07:24] Have you ever heard somebody say, I'm afraid I might love my kids too much? You don't. I promise you, you don't, nobody does. You might enable your kids too much, and that's a problem, nobody loves anybody too much because to love somebody is to sacrifice for their ultimate good. "Greater love has no one than this..." In that somebody would. Now, some of you know it, John 15:13, "Lay down one’s life for one’s friends." Jesus is the ultimate in love, Jesus never loved anybody too much, you are not in danger of loving anybody too much. We will never get done paying off the debt of love.

Dan Franklin: [00:07:24] So here's what I want to do, we're going to look at this and say that this is the call that Paul is giving. We're going to ask two questions about this passage that are going to be answered by these verses. Two questions, and then we're going to talk about two tables and how this might be a way that we can think about how we live out the command that Paul is giving us. So two questions about this passage.

Dan Franklin: [00:08:23] The first is this, why? Why do we owe love? And if God is going to call us, if he's going to say here's a justice issue, here's what you owe to one another, why choose love? Well, we're told in this passage, why love? We can start with all of verse 8, "Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law." Here's the shorthand of what Paul is saying, if you love one another, you are doing everything God wants you to do, there is nothing that is not covered under that umbrella of love.

Dan Franklin: [00:09:09] In fact, he doubles down to make sure we're clear on this by what he says in verse 9, he says, "The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be." Which, by the way, I love that, that he just says whatever other commands, he knows the commands. He's just saying everything is covered, not just the ten commands, which he names off four of the Ten Commandments, and four of them that have to do with our relationships to one another. So he says, all right, these commands that I'm naming and also all commands, anything that you're thinking of right now that you know that God wants you to do because he's revealed that he wants you to do it, "And whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love is the fulfillment of the law, love is the summary of the law.

Dan Franklin: [00:09:56] And by the way, in case you're looking at this and being like Paul's pretty bold here. Is Paul here kind of like I've been thinking about this, and so I'm going to workshop this idea with you guys, but I kind of think love might just be the main command. Paul is not just coming up with this, Paul is coming up with this because Jesus said this. In Matthew 22, Jesus is asked by somebody, what is the greatest commandment? And let's read his answer in Matthew 22, starting in verse 37, "Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Jesus knew that in the Old Testament there were 613 different commandments given to God's people, and he says, all of those commands hang on these two. Number one, that you love God with all your heart and soul and mind. And number two, that you love your neighbor as yourself. Which, by the way, is not Jesus saying you love your neighbor, and you love yourself. It's Jesus saying you do love yourself, love your neighbor that way? Love your neighbor in the same way that you already love yourself. And while these are two commands that Jesus gave, in a way they're so connected that he couldn't separate them, he didn't want to separate them. He was asked for the greatest command, and he had to give two because of how closely connected they were.

Dan Franklin: [00:11:29] In fact, look at what the Apostle John says in First John, chapter 4, verse 20, he says, "Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar." You've got to love John for his straightforwardness, you're a liar if you say this. "For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen." If you're looking at Jesus's commands and you're like, loving God, I'm on board. God deserves my love, he should have my love, it's appropriate after all he's done for me, I will give my love to God. Giving my love to my neighbor, I'm not sure, I'm going to treat that as optional. John says, If you say you love God, you got to love your neighbor, you got to love your brother and sister. They can be seen, if you're not loving them, please don't claim that you love God. Do you know why we can't love God without loving our neighbor? Because God loves our neighbor. God created your neighbor. God created you, and you are made in his image. God created your neighbor, and your neighbor is made in your image. Some of you really like your neighbor, and some of you don't like your neighbor, that's part of the point of the word neighbor. God has created each one of us in his image and imagine the audacity of us going to God and saying, God, I'm good with you, but I'm not so crazy about your people. If any of you came to me and you were like, Dan, I like you, your kids, not so much. We would not be friends, we wouldn't, I would not be okay with that. If we claim to love God, that means we also love our neighbor.

Dan Franklin: [00:13:00] He says, all right, Love is a fulfillment of the law, love is a summary of the law, and look at what he says in verse 10. In verse 10 he says, "Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law." Once, in each of these verses, he says that love is at the center and every other command falls underneath that. If you're loving your spouse, you're not committing adultery, because that clearly would not be loving to them. If you're loving other people, clearly, you're not murdering them or stealing from them or coveting them, or having angry outbursts at them. If you're loving them, if you're truly sacrificing for the good of another person, that covers everything that God has commanded you to do.

Dan Franklin: [00:13:39] And by the way, when he says love does no harm to a neighbor, that's not Paul trying to minimize what love is. That's not just sort of a passage that says, just don't do anything wrong. What he simply is saying is, if you're loving others, you're clearly not going to harm them, you're not going to end up loving them too much, and you're not going to end up in an act of love doing something that's going to be bad for them, love does no harm to a neighbor. Because, as Paul says in another place, love is patient and kind, not rude, not boastful, keeps no record of wrongs, always believes the best about others, and always has hope in the best for others. Paul says, why love? Because it's at the center of everything God commands us to do.

Dan Franklin: [00:14:23] Now, let's ask the second question of this passage, and the second question is, who? Specifically to who, if we owe love, if it's a justice issue, to whom do we owe love? And once again, we get an answer to this question in our passage, if we go back to verse 8, "Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love...". Who? "...One another."

Dan Franklin: [00:14:48] Now, you can read that in isolation and think that means everyone, but that actually doesn't mean everyone. In Paul's letters, it's abundantly clear what he means by one another, and what he means by one another is our brothers and sisters in Christ, he means one another as the Church of God. We're going to see in a second, it's not to the exclusion of loving those outside, but when you run across the one another's in the New Testament, encourage one another, carry one another's burdens, all these commands, it is speaking of how we function as a church family. So when Paul says to love one another, he's talking about us as brothers and sisters in Christ all over the world, but in particular in whatever local church family God has called us to be a part of.

Dan Franklin: [00:15:31] Now, again, to be clear this isn't, love other Christians and who cares about everyone else. Because he says in the next verse, love your neighbor as yourself, and neighbor is much more broad. And some of you know that Jesus said something else about love, he said not only to love your neighbor but to love who? Love your enemies. Everyone is covered under this love, if we're loving our neighbors and our enemies, everyone is covered.

Dan Franklin: [00:15:55] And even as we think about loving our neighbor, Troy talked about it earlier this morning. But today we have an opportunity to further lean into the call that we've been having throughout this series to partner with our local outreach partners, to adopt one of those for prayer and for financial giving and for serving as volunteers, because we're looking to love our neighbor. But the focal point of the love that Paul calls us to is to one another. Again, it's not to the exclusion, but it's Paul saying the priority of our love is the church family. And again, you can think of this, this isn't that hard to grasp when you pause to think about it. Because God created every single one of us, every human being, every human being is equally valuable in God's eyes. Amen? That's true, every human being is equally valuable in God's eyes.

Dan Franklin: [00:16:53] So that means also, that every man that God has ever created is equal in value to every other man; and every woman that God is created is equal to every other woman that He's ever created. So every single woman that God has ever created is equally valuable to God. Now, God has blessed me with Karina, she is my wife, and she is a gift to me. I can stand up here and I can say, all right, I understand from an objective standpoint, Karina is no more or no less valuable to God than any other woman that God has ever created. With that said, do I treat Karina as if she's no more or no less important than every other woman that God has created? I don't. Yeah. Somebody just said, you better not, and you're right. You guys would be like, what are you doing? That's crazy. Yes, technically, she's not more valuable to God than anyone else, but I treat her as if she is because she is a gift that God has given to me, and my responsibilities are towards her. There's a special, we understand that this is true, we understand that there can be a priority in who we're meant to give our love to.

Dan Franklin: [00:18:01] It's the same with the Church of Jesus Christ, it's not to the exclusion of others, but there's a special responsibility that we have to one another as a church family. And by the way, Jesus indicated this priority in his words. In John, chapter 13 verse 35, he said, "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Which, there's a lot to say about this verse, including the idea that he didn't say, by this everyone will know that you're my disciples, by all the miracles that you do, even though the apostles who heard this went out and did miracles. He said, this is the main way people are going to know that you belong to me, that you love one another. This seems to indicate that Jesus understood, if people outside the church are looking at how the church loves one another, they're going to want in on it.

Dan Franklin: [00:18:53] There's a kid who wants to be adopted into a family, and the family comes and they're all yelling at each other and sniping at each other. And they're like, hey, you want to come in? They'd be like, I'm good, I'm going to wait for the next option to come around. How are we going to call people, and invite people into the family of God if we're constantly sniping at each other and at odds with one another? The priority of our love is toward one another.

Dan Franklin: [00:19:23] So why are we called to love? Because if we're really loving, if we're really loving how we're meant to love, then that covers everything that God has commanded us to do. And to whom are we meant to give this love? To the whole world, but the priority is to give this love to the family of God, to one another as believers in Jesus. And how great if the world was looking at, let's just take us as a church family, how great if the world was looking at us and they were saying, man, when any member is sick or had surgery or is injured in some way, that church gathers around and there are meals and there are prayers and there's care going out. Man, in that church, when anybody suffers grief, when they lose a spouse or a parent or, God forbid, a child, the whole church, the whole family, gathers around and supports them during that time. When somebody is down, the rest of the family gathers around and lifts them up. What a wonderful testimony, Jesus says, by this, all will know that you're my disciples, by your love for one another. Love is not just an optional add-on, love is at the center, and love is a justice issue. We owe it to one another.

Dan Franklin: [00:20:32] Now we've answered the two questions, what I want to do now is talk about these two tables back here. In fact, in order to do that, I'm going to get rid of this table. Hey, Matt, you want to help me out, brother, kind of lower this down. Thanks, my friend. So I'm going to just come back here and we're going to talk about these two tables that have been nicely collected and arranged. Here's what these tables represent, these tables represent two options for the table of fellowship that we experience as Christians. When you think of family, what does a family do a lot together? Yeah, they eat. We eat meals together, it's one of the signs that you belong is when you eat a meal with someone else. So these tables, and there's a lot of this imagery in the Bible, these tables represent the tables of fellowship, we have a larger table and a smaller table.

Dan Franklin: [00:21:24] Now, I want to say one clarification before I get into this illustration because some of you might have another image coming up in your mind when we think of kind of large and small, you're like Jesus talked about a wide road and a narrow road. So you might think, all right, the wide road leads to destruction, the narrow road leads to life, so maybe smaller is better. In a broad sense, that's a fair point, it is true that if we had a table that represented the entire world, that would be a bigger table than this table of fellowship we're talking about. Not everyone is at this big table, but do you know what? Everybody's invited to this table. But in order to be part of this table, there are some non-negotiables, you have to believe that Jesus is Lord. You have to believe that Jesus died for our sins and that He rose from the dead and that salvation is found in no one else, to be part of this table, you have to believe that God, the eternal God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in perfect unity forever. And to be a part of this table, you've got to believe that God has given us His holy Word and everything in it is true. So it's a bigger table than this, it's not an infinitely big table, but that's the idea. Do we have a table that's big enough to house a bunch of us, a bunch of us that don't line up identically on every issue? Or do we have a table that's just enough for a couple of us?

Dan Franklin: [00:22:48] I want to break news right here, but you guys might have heard that Tuesday is an election. So part of why we wanted to do this two days before the election is to prime our thoughts on this, to think about how we respond. I've said this before, if you haven't said, some of us have already voted, I've already sent in my ballot. Some of you are trying to figure out how this all works right now, here's just my advice as a pastor, there's not a command, but this is my advice. If you are eligible to vote, it is a good thing to vote. I wouldn't go so far as to say God commands us to vote, but I'd say it seems like a strong stewardship issue to vote. It's a very wise thing to do, and it's something we should avail ourselves of. That said, how are we going to respond when we come to realize that brothers and sisters in Christ are handling the political and social issues that we're surrounded with differently than we are?

Dan Franklin: [00:23:40] So I'm going to start with the big table and let me just kind of walk you around who is at this table. So over here, it's sort of, these two chairs at the head of the table, we have John, and we have Robert, John and Robert have known each other for a long time. John loves guns, he's got lots of guns and he's got lots of ammo. He likes to hunt, but it's not just hunting, he loves going shooting with his buddies, and he does it a lot. And not only does he enjoy it, not only is it sort of a hobby that he just enjoys, but that he also believes that it's part of his responsibility to take care of his family, so he has guns to make sure he can take care of his family. And if he's honest, John would tell you, you know what, I think it's good for citizens to have guns because that's a check on the government not to get too tyrannical, that's John's perspective. Robert is over here next to him; Robert wishes there were way fewer guns in the United States. He's seen the studies, and he knows that there are more guns than humans in our country, and he also has had a lot of friends and people in his life who have been victims of gun violence. And so every time it happens with a friend, he's grieved, every time it just happens in the news, his heart breaks and he immediately falls to his knees and prays for the families of those who are hurting because of this loss of life and because of this loss due to gun violence. Robert has never come across a gun control law that he didn't love, he never met a gun control law that he didn't vote for. As you can guess, John votes differently than that. But John and Robert were unlikely friends, do you know how they met? They met serving together at Exit 83 high school ministry. They ended up working together, mentoring young men, and they didn't even really know about their difference for a while. When they knew about their difference, it surprised them a little bit, it caused both of them to raise their eyebrows and they both saw each other as extreme. But here they are at the table raising glasses and clinking them together and toasting Jesus Christ. And they're toasting Jesus Christ because John knows no gun can ultimately protect me, and Robert knows no law can ultimately protect me, but Jesus Christ has promised both of them an inheritance in heaven that nobody can ever take away.

Dan Franklin: [00:26:01] Let's keep moving around the table, let's look at these two chairs over here. Over at these two chairs, we have Cheryl, and we have Jessica. Cheryl is an advocate for school of choice, she is passionate about this, she has kids herself and she is passionate about making sure that every child in every family can get the best education for their children. So she's a big advocate for school choice, she helps facilitate school choice, and she even helped set up to provide rides for kids so that they can get to a school outside their immediate area if their parents aren't able to take them there. Cheryl's perspective really is that if there's more competition among the schools, if the bar is raised for all the schools, then every school will raise up to that. But when there's no competition, when a local school has the monopoly of all the kids there, then they're not going to be highly motivated to give the best education. Next to Cheryl is Jessica, and Jessica is a public-school teacher and she is not in favor of school of choice. The reason that she's not in favor of school choice is that it's been her observation over the years that the kids who suffer when their school choice are the kids who don't have a parent who's motivated enough to take them somewhere else or don't have the resources to get to somewhere outside the area. And in Jessica's observation, when that happens, things get worse and worse for the bad schools and better and better for the schools outside of the area. When this first came up, obviously, Cheryl and Jessica had a little bit of a hard time, they realized that they were on different sides of this issue. But what they came to realize, the more that they talked, is that they both cared so deeply, and their hearts were breaking for kids who were not getting the kind of education that they needed. They both saw a problem, but you know what they ended up with? Different, wildly different, solutions to that problem. But they ended up looking at each other and realizing that what both of them were trying to do was trying to do the same thing that Jesus did in the Gospels when he said, let the little children come to me. That both of these women are looking at their own kids and the kids in their area and saying, I'm going to do everything that I can do to make sure these kids get everything that I want them to get. Because Jessica and Cheryl have recognized something that's powerful in the Bible.

Dan Franklin: [00:28:13] In fact, here's something that I learned in my study this week of Romans 13, it comes right before Romans 14. I know, pause in your enthusiasm for that biblical insight. Let me show you, I think that this is important. Let me show you the first verse of Romans 14, "Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters." Now, not everything is a disputable matter. If somebody is saying, I think Jesus is the one and only way, and somebody else is saying he's one of many ways. For Christians, that's not a disputable matter. When we're talking about gun control, when we're talking about education, we move into the realm of disputable matters. There are matters that are not disputable for us, but there are some that are. And Paul, in a discussion of love within the church family, says, Guys, you got to do this, you're never going to be able to live out love if you're not able to accept each other when it comes to disputable matters.

Dan Franklin: [00:29:13] So let's keep going around the table, we've got a few more chairs. Over here at the head of the table and over at this brown chair, we have a couple more, we've got Jesse and we have Victor. Now, Jesse and Victor met because they work together at the Upland Community Resource Center. So they partner together in helping people who either are homeless or have just come across a hard time, get into housing, or get into a situation that's going to be much better for them. They labored together, and so once they were having so much fun working together and experiencing the joys of getting people into housing that they decided to grab lunch, and over their lunch, the conversation of politics came up. Do you know what they discovered? They discovered that Jesse believes very strongly in bigger government programs, we need a bigger social safety net and financial safety net for those who slipped through, and more government programs to help those who are in need. On the other hand, Victor is a Libertarian, Victor wants the government out of everything. And Victor's perspective is that when the government gets out of things, it creates room for private citizens to be able to be charitable and to use what's theirs to help those who are in need. They had a lively debate that lunchtime, talking about the different pluses and minuses of each of their positions. And yet, here they are at the table breaking bread together, and the reason that they're breaking bread together is that they've been able to see each other's hearts as they've continued in this labor. They know that both of them not only want to help people who are in need, but they're also recognizing that both of them met Jesus at a point where they were in utter desperation. No more or less desperation than the homeless person who might come into the Upland Community Resource Center, they recognized that they were desperate, godless sinners when Jesus encountered them, and they see a common problem and they have different solutions.

Dan Franklin: [00:31:06] And finally, we get to these two chairs here, and in these two chairs here, we have Joanna, and we have Jennifer. They're together, and they actually serve together at the Growing Pains local outreach partner. And Growing Pains is an organization that helps teen mothers and pregnant teen women navigate, and start to prepare for parenting, and sometimes even mentors them through the parenting process and for much later on. They met together in that, and they became good friends walking with young women as they walked through their pregnancies, and keeping their children, and then later on helping them raise their children. One day, Joanna was mortified when she learned that Jessica primarily votes Democrat. The reason she was shocked by this is because Joanna and Jessica had had a number of conversations about how they were both avidly pro-life, how they both were passionate about the lives of unborn babies, and about the horror and evil of abortion. And so you can imagine that Joanna was pretty thrown off when she found out that Jessica votes primarily Democrat. They had conversations about this, there were points where Jessica would just try to explain where she was coming from, that she believed that the Democrat position on abortion was absolutely wrong, but there were a number of other issues that led her still to vote primarily for Democrats. Joanna even came to the point of saying to her friend, Jessica, I just don't get it, I just couldn't do that, my conscience wouldn't allow me to do that. There was a little while that they thought their friendship wasn't going to make it, but they came to a point of respecting one another. Part of love is believing all things, which means believing the best about the other person, and they came to a point of respecting each other's differences on this because both of them had seen the heart of the other one to passionately advocate for the lives of unborn children, and to do it in a way that they're caring for mothers long after the birth of their children.

Dan Franklin: [00:32:56] There are a lot more people at this table, but let's pause there and let's talk about this other table over here. It almost looks like a table for one, but we squeezed two onto here, we've got a couple of people, and let me just tell you about the two people at this table. The two people at this table are the only two in the whole community, the only two people who really get it when it comes to politics, thank God, they found each other. Here they are at the table, they're the only two that understand that the 2022 midterm election is the most consequential election in American history, again. I've got a big rant, but I'm going to hold off on it right now. Thank God, they found each other, everybody else is just kind of going along, over at that table, they got Democrats and Republicans, over at that table they got big government people in small government people, thank God, we found each other over here, we're the only two people who really get it. Do you know what else about these two over here? They're the only two people that did COVID flawlessly. I mean, over at this table, we have people who are still masking up, and we have people who are still not vaccinated with the COVID vaccine. Over here, thank God these two found each other, they're the only two people who perfectly flawlessly navigated the time during COVID. They're also the only two people in the church that parent right when it comes to education, when it comes to discipline, when it comes to screen time, they're the only ones who are getting it right. They're the only ones when it comes to money, are actually navigating debt and all the other elements of money perfectly and correctly. They're the only two people using the absolutely right Bible translation, thank God, they found each other. Thank God, they found each other, and they're having the table of fellowship together talking about how right they both are and how wrong everybody else is.

Dan Franklin: [00:35:01] Brothers and sisters, we do not want to be a church of this table. This doesn't mean that we don't believe anything, and this doesn't mean that we aren't willing to stand up and proudly, and courageously stand for the truth. What it means is we actually believe what Paul says in Romans 14:1, we believe that there is such a thing as disputable matters, and we believe that we can have a range of those at the table of fellowship together without cutting other people off. I want to be very clear when we talk about this, I am not telling anybody that you can't be part of a political party. I'm registered for one of the two major political parties, it's not wrong to do so. I'm not saying that it's wrong to have the conviction that there is a certain way to vote, I'm not going to get way into it, I don't view either the political parties positively, and I also don't view them as equally bad on every issue. You don't have to do that in order to look at the situation and say there are many things when it comes to our politics that fall firmly under disputable matters, things that we as Christians can come to one another and we can agree to disagree.

Dan Franklin: [00:36:10] And this can sound like one of those things where it's like, all right, just back off, just chill a little bit. This is not about backing off and about chilling out, this is about leaning in and loving one another the way that Jesus has called us to love. This is not you becoming more mellow, this is you becoming more passionate about the love that we are meant to offer to one another. In fact, to go further, the love that we owe to one another. Because if we're going to take in what Paul is saying in Romans 13, where we're going to see is that our act of justice toward other believers is love, and if we're living out love, we're going to live out everything else that God has called us to do.

Dan Franklin: [00:36:52] So let me encourage this, as we take all this in, Let me first and foremost encourage that if we really take in what Paul is saying here, this is going to bring us to some repentance. Now, here's the deal with repentance, repentance at a very base level has to do with a change of mind. And it's often much deeper than that, it's also often a confession of ways that we've been wrong in our attitudes and wrong in our actions, but it starts primarily with a change of mind. And so at all times, but let's just say right now, in the height of all of the things going on with this election, it would be wise for us to say now might be a time where God is calling me to change my mind. Maybe not even changing your vote, maybe just changing your mind about how certain you are that your way of voting is the only way to vote. Maybe along with that change is also God calling us to a change of attitude. It's okay to look at somebody who's voting differently than you and say to them, honestly, I don't think I could do that, I don't think my conscience would allow me to do that, that's okay to be honest, and humbly honest with somebody else when it comes to that if you're still allowing room for the fact that there might be something that you don't know. But going along with this, I think for some of us there's also repentance at just a much more base level, where we've sinned against one another and we need to stop. And I always say this every year, but brothers and sisters, the way that you act on social media is still the way that you are acting. If you want your private thoughts, get a diary, if you're going to go on social media, you are speaking in a certain way, not just to enemies out there, but often you're speaking in a degrading way to the precious brothers and sisters in Christ, not just out, far away, but in this same church family. Some of us need to repent, and some of us need to preemptively get out in front of it and say, I'm going to have conversations after the election, I'm going to talk about if I'm happy or sad, I'm going to evaluate it with some people, but I don't need to air everything out in order to alienate brothers and sisters in Christ that I want to be at this table with, that I want us to be toasting Jesus together, and that I want us to be partnering in justice and mercy together. For some of us, there needs to be repentance in light of this. And for all of us, the call is not to get more relaxed and less passionate, but to get more passionate about what God has called us to do.

Dan Franklin: [00:39:25] I'm going to ask you to bow your heads right now. In a moment, I'm going to pray for us. But here's what I want to ask us to do right now, before I pray out loud, I want to just ask for some quiet moments, and I want to ask you just to allow the Spirit of God right now to search your heart. The great thing about repentance is that we already know God's answer when we ask Him for forgiveness, all is forgiven in Jesus. So right now, what God's wanting to do in you, frankly, it might have very little if nothing to do with politics, it may have to do with just the way that you're treating people around you, in your classes, in your work, or in your family. That you've been self-centered, that you've been short with people, and that you have not been pouring out love. And for some of you, it has to do with exactly what we've been talking about, and it has to do with dismissing people who handle these issues differently. Let's have a quiet moment of searching and repentance before I close our time in prayer.

Dan Franklin: [00:40:25] Father, we pray that you show off your profound love through us. Father, I pray first and foremost that you lead each one of us to be a recipient of your love and to receive it actively. Father, we don't need more self-love, we need more God love. Help us to believe that we are loved, that in our sinful, helpless, godless state, Jesus came to us and welcomed us all. Help us to embrace that His cross is our freedom and that His stripes are our healing. And Father, pour out your love through us. Pour out your love, first and foremost, to the brothers and sisters in Christ that you have graciously given us as family. Father, may we love each other in a way that shows you off to the world and that stirs people's hearts to want to get in on whatever love you have because they see the love that we have. Bring us to repentance, bring us to peace, and Father, may no scheme of the enemy divide us. I pray that next week, just as this week we're before the election, and next week we're after the election, Father, I pray that our love for one another would be just as passionate, just as strong, just as pure, and that our table of fellowship would be large. I pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.

Dan Franklin: [00:41:47] And let me ask you to stand as I'm going to read a word of benediction over us. And as I'm doing that, you're seeing some folks come to the front. Afterward, you might want prayer, you might want a conversation, you might need to repent of something and want somebody to talk to you, that's why we have pastors and elders and prayer team members up front. But to close our time, let me read out of First John chapter 4, "This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us." Amen? Amen. God bless you the rest of this Sunday.

Recorded in Upland, California.
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Life Bible Fellowship Church
2426 N Euclid Ave
Upland, California 91786
(909) 981-4848