Rise Up! A Call to Action
Holy and Magnificent God, You alone are sovereign over all the universe. You said, “Let there be…and there was, and it was good.” As we gather here today, Lord, call us back. Call us back to our trust in you as Lord over our lives. Call us back to hear your call. Call us back to serve you and you alone. Call us back to the place of peace and rest for our souls.
Now Sovereign Lord, we ask that you would speak into our hearts and souls; attune our wills to yours, Lord. Speak Lord, your servants are listening, to your glory, AMEN.
Unless you’ve been under a rock; on a deserted island; with no radio, television, telephone, or internet connection; you are most likely aware that there is an election going on in our country right now. Perhaps you, like so many have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of your ballot so you could place your vote for what has been called “the most important election of our generation.” That makes a good headline, doesn’t it? In my asking that question I know that some of you may be feeling the anxiety rising within you right now.
Though I have preached to the divisiveness, the racism, and the tension that you no doubt have felt, I have intentionally not spoken specifically about the election. The reason for my not doing so is I have people I very much respect as Christian leaders who support different candidates and will easily and eloquently tell you why. Despite the medias portrayal that Evangelical Christians all vote one way, that is not true!
Nor is it true that men, women, white, black, indigenous people, white collar, blue collar, rich, poor, or any other group you can think of vote as a monolithic group. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. As I’ve quoted many times, “If two of you agree on everything, one of you isn’t necessary,” John C. Maxwell.
As your pastor, as a leader in the church, as your Christian brother today I want you as the church to rise up! Rise up above the fray! Rise up, above the partisan politics and the insults, and the insinuations! Rise up above the divides that separate us as image bearers of God!
Jesus speaks to us in His Sermon on the Mount:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Jesus called his followers to Rise Up above the fray of partisanship, and in so doing calls us to Rise Up above it as well.
There are those who believe that their party will save the day, will solve all our country’s problems, and will bring in some imagined utopian society. There is only One who ever promised us true peace - and that is Jesus.
And I believe Jesus is calling us to action. I firmly believe church that it is time for us to Rise Up!
In the following passages of Matthew chapter 6 Jesus shares with his disciples about how to live, how to pray, fasting, and anxiety.
We pray that Lord’s prayer as recorded in Matthew weekly, but how about daily?
When I was in seminary I had an Orthodox priest for my Koine Greek classes. He said one day that the Lord’s prayer was the only prayer we needed. Of course we all balked a bit. So he challenged us to all pray it 10 times each day instead of whatever other prayer we might use. I took him up and my experience was enlightening. I won’t go into my insights here, but am happy to share them with you personally if you’d like. But the call to prayer is serious, and one we seldom take as seriously as Jesus told us to.
When we get to vs. 16 of Matthew 6 we come to a passage on Fasting.
“And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Within the first sentence is an eye opening thought. Read the first four words with me: “And when you fast.” Jesus doesn’t say, “IF” you fast, he says, “When” you fast.
Now fasting is something that has sort of come back into vogue for weight control, but that’s not the purpose of the fasting Jesus is speaking of. Remember how the psalmist wrote:
As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.
Fasting awakens physical hunger within us. Though few of us are in danger of starving, it doesn’t prevent us from saying we are when those hunger pangs come upon us. In fasting those same pangs are a reminder of how we do hunger and thirst of God - that God is the one who provides for us and truly nourishes us.
Fasting from food for one meal, or one day each week, or more and using the time we would have prepared and eaten those meal to feast on God’s Word and spend time with God in prayer is a very biblical way to seek God. For some there are concerns with blood sugar, etc. which can typically be maintained with fruit juices.
Perhaps fasting from food for you is not an option for health reasons. You can still fast - you can fast from technology, or news, or ...you name it. The point for Christian fasting is turning to God - to intentionally turn our hearts and our desires to God.
Jesus speaks in Matthew 6:25-34 about all the things we can be anxious about, what we will eat, what we will wear, what we will drink. And he concludes in Matthew 6:33:
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
For the past several weeks I’ve been praying about how to lead our church in this season of a divisive election and beyond. We are only a little more than two weeks away from our election, and I hope you will do your civic duty and vote. More than that I want you to Rise up! RISE UP as the church. RISE UP as Christians.
I want you to Rise UP and take your faith seriously - perhaps more seriously than you have in the past. I want you Rise UP and fast and as you do so let that awaken in you that hunger and thirst for God. Let’s God’s love and peace fill you and permeate your being.
I want you to RISE UP and pray, and when you pray, don’t pray for your candidate to win because that’s putting the focus back on your desires. RISE UP and Pray for God’s will to be done.
Let’s ALL RISE UP!
Jesus said, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Let’s not let this election bring us down. Let’s RISE UP!
RISE UP and love your enemy.
RISE UP and pray for those who persecute you.
RISE UP and give to those who have need.
RISE UP and pray for GOD’s will to be done.
RISE UP to serve only God.
RISE UP to seek first God’s Kingdom.
RISE UP and not be anxious about tomorrow for God has given us today.