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Polarizing Division vs. Gospel Peace

Sermon Series:


Ryan Kimmel
Ryan Kimmel

Lead Pastor

Peace Church

Main Passage:
Ephesians 6:15


Today is the day that the Lord has made. So let us rejoice and be glad in it. And everyone said, Amen.

Gun laws, climate change, abortion, governmental power, immigration, public education, Israel, Palestine, Ukraine, Russia, marijuana, gay marriage, transgender, and taxes. Need I go on? These are the issues that we have not just disagreements on, but they say these are the issues that Americans are divided on. And as recent polls show, they say that the polarization is getting worse. After an August 2023 polling, which was showing the widening of the American divide since 2003, that was roughly 20 years ago, after they did this poll comparing this year's results from 20 years ago, this is what one Gallup polling analysis said. It said, this confirms the fundamental foundation for any analysis of UF's politics.

The fact that individuals' political identity is highly correlated with their views of social and policy issues, resulting in substantial differences in how issues are viewed across political segments. This in turn reflects the fact that the two major political parties have staked out widely differing positions on the type of issues included in this analysis. Now that was a mouthful and I'm a simple man so let me just say to you simply what was just said. It's basically in America all coming down to whether you are a Republican or a Democrat. That is unfortunately the biggest indicator of where you stand on various issues and in our world today Because apparently the contrast is so drastically clear I just want you to know I want to work extra hard To be known by my allegiance to jesus before i'm known by how I vote.

So I'll say it plainly to you I am an ambassador of the kingdom of heaven Sent to this wonderful country to represent my king. And I am an American. And I am thankful that I live in this country and I care about its future. I love being an American. I love being an American citizen. I love raising my kids here. There's no place else I'd rather live. I count myself fortunate to be able to live and raise my kids here. I will not rag on this country. We are not perfect. I'm not saying that but I believe this is the best country There is and I'm allowed to have that opinion. I Am old enough to say that I was an adult 20 years ago. I Remember 03 who here remembers 03 who here wasn't alive don't raise your hand, please don't I don't want to know I don't want to know. I remember 03 and I will tell you this and if you've been around you've known this things have changed.

Social norms have changed. COVID changed everything. There are many factors and as we look at the divide and the polarization, this is what both sides do that I think does not help. We see where people stand on one issue and then we think we know everything about them. But for the Christian, when we see someone, whether they are a transgender person with blue hair wearing a mask or they are a redneck with the red cap who's open carrying, do you know what is the first thing that we Christians think when we see someone? That right there is a person made in the image of the Almighty Creator. That is the first thing we think, or at least it should be. That we see a person standing before us. And I'm just gonna put this on the screen, until we see the humanity in people, before we see the difference in politics, we'll never be the people to bring the message of peace this world needs to know. Because that shows something about our heart posture towards other people. We need to see them and their humanity, and more than that, the fact that they are made in the image of God.

And that's what we're going to be looking at today as we continue our series called Withstand. We're going to see how the culture war, the political war, is at its root spiritual. We're looking at Ephesians 6. If you've been with us, you know that. So please open your Bibles to Ephesians chapter 6. We are looking at what the Bible calls the spiritual armor, that we've been given spiritual armor to take our stand and to fight spiritually against the true enemy, who is the devil and the way that he's having sway and influence in our world. And the piece of armor that we're looking at today is shoes. The boots that we wear for battle as we are looking at polarizing division versus gospel peace.

Now as you turn to Ephesians, just to remind you, if you haven't been here, Paul wrote this letter. This actually just was a letter that one man wrote to a church in a city called Ephesus. And in this letter, he's teaching them about certain doctrines of the Christian faith and how to live out the Christian ethic in our day-to-day life. But then he closes up this letter by talking about this deeply spiritual issue, talking about the spiritual armor, because he's reminding the people in Ephesus and the Holy Spirit's reminding us that our battle is spiritual. That our neighbor is not our enemy, the devil is our enemy, and the influence that he is having, that's what we take our stand against. And so, Paul and the Holy Spirit talks about this spiritual armor, and this spiritual armor is composed of essential aspects of our faith, and that's what we are dressed with as we look at Ephesians chapter 6, verse 15. And so with that, would you hear God's word?

Ephesians 6:15

And as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.

That's what we're looking at today. So let's pray and we'll get started. Let's pray together. Father God, we come before you. Lord, we just ask that you would help us to find our rest, our assurance, and our strength in you. Would you protect us from the evil one during this series and in our lives and help us by pouring out your Holy Spirit upon us. That Holy Spirit, you would fill us and guide us to live lives, live lives, knowing the truth, that we might live as we take our stand. We pray these things in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus and everyone said Amen.

So our verse very, very simply says as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace here, the notion here is quite simple. Our feet carry us as we carry the gospel message. And so if I was gonna give you a main point, I'd put it like this today, very simply.

The gospel makes us ready to bring peace in a polarized world.

The gospel makes us ready to bring peace in a polarized world. And as we look at this one verse, we're gonna take it phrase by phrase, and here's how we're gonna break it down today. Point one, like shoes, the gospel gives us what we stand in and on. Second thing we'll look at is like shoes, the gospel makes us ready to face the world and the third thing We'll look at is like shoes the gospel brings us back home.

Like shoes, the gospel...

  1. Gives us what we stand in and on

  2. makes us ready to face the world

  3. brings us back home

I will go ahead and just warn you with this disclaimer today, and I hate disclaimers, but I think it's important I will warn you that today some of you will think that I'm going to be too political Some of you will wish that I would talk on a broader range of topics than I am going to this morning. Some of you may choose to leave the church. I will tell you now, this sermon will fall short for many people.

But I am preaching for God's glory and for the good of this church, not for any political party. My challenge here will be to those who are on the left and on the right, make sure that you have not so connected and immersed your identity with your political affiliation that you have lost all ability to think objectively about the truth that's around us. And so what I'm going to ask you to do is please don't walk out at the first statement that you don't like or disagree with. I'm going to do my best to represent some facts here this morning and some data that I think is relevant to the discussion, but I will submit to you right now, it's by no mean exhaustive. We could spend a lot more time talking about a lot more topics, but through it all, in this divided world, we're going to see how we as Christians are to respond to a world that's so polarized. And I will just tell you now, it is by being firstly people of the gospel.

1. Like shoes, the gospel gives us what we stand in and on

And as the Bible shows us, first point here we'll look at, is that like shoes, the gospel gives us what we stand in and on. All right, I need everyone, and you in other venues, I need you to finish this sentence for me, if you know it. Finish this sentence. If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for... I think that's so true. But here's what I'm going to say to you. We raise our kids, but do they know not just what to do or how to behave, but do they know why? Are you giving your kids not just morals but a mission? Do they understand why we are to behave in the ways that God has called us to? Because it's glorifying to Him, because it's ultimately what's best for us, and it's what makes us effective in our mission. The last thing that the Gospel of Matthew records is Jesus giving his disciples the Great Commission. A pathetic number of Christians don't know what the Great Commission is. The Great Commission is the last great mission that Jesus gave his church before he returned to heaven.

It was simply this, go and make disciples. Go into all the nations, proclaim the name of Jesus and make disciples, but how are we to do that? Yes by loving them, of course with the love of Jesus. We are to love others But it cannot just be that We have to also share the name of Jesus if we are to make disciples They need to know who they are going to be a disciple of and that's why Christians in this day and age, as with for all time, we can never not say the name of Jesus. We need to always be able and willing and be brave enough to speak the name of Jesus Christ.

"We need to always be able and willing and be brave enough to speak the name of Jesus Christ."

I was way enough to go on a tangent, I decided not to. I'm going to stick to my notes. So here we go. As for shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness, the readiness, or you could say the preparation given by the gospel of peace. I love this. I love how the Bible ties together the gospel and shoes, because the gospel is not just to be lived out in our home, it's to be shared with the world, it's to be brought into the world. And like shoes, like boots, the gospel gives us something to stand in and stand on. And the gospel, what is that? Very simply, very purely, the gospel is good news. So why are we afraid to share it?

The gospel is the good news that Jesus Christ died on the cross in our place for our sins. By so doing that, he took our punishment so that we wouldn't have to pay the penalty for our own sins. And He died on the cross. And then, in the greatest miracle there ever was, greater than the formation of the cosmos, the greatest miracle, Jesus rose again on the third day. And thereby granting eternal life. Thereby proving He was who He said He was. And giving us eternal life that does not start when we die, giving us eternal life that starts now. And Jesus calls it new life. In fact, it's so new that Jesus says it's literally like being born again. That's how much of a fresh start it is when you become a Christian, that your slate is wiped completely clean and you are seen as righteous before God. And that is good news. Amen.

There is no more eternally important news than that. The gospel is the foundation of what we stand in and on. It's our heart and it's our backbone. And that truth, the gospel truth, the good news is more important than any political, social or cultural division we may have. No matter if you are red or blue, one thing I can tell you about us all is that we all are sinners in need of a savior. And I'm happy to tell you his name, it's Jesus. I've said it before and I'll say it again, Jesus never got into a screaming match with those who opposed him, and neither should we. Why? Because we don't stand against them, we stand for the gospel, we stand on the firm foundation of the gospel, and it's what we put on our feet, like shoes. The gospel gives us what we stand in and on.

2. Like shoes, the gospel makes us ready to face the world

And the second thing is like shoes, the gospel makes us ready to face the world. Our verse continues, having put on the readiness, having put on the readiness by the gospel of peace. You guys know, probably know that I have got four kids and when it's time to leave the house, do you know what we say to our kids? All right, kids, go put your shoes on, time to leave. And then we spend the next 10 minutes fighting about getting their shoes on because they're distracted or they lost one But here's the reality when you have your shoes on that's like the last thing we put on

Before we walk out the door whether it's cold You need a coat the last thing we put on and there's our shoes and when we have our shoes on when I see the Shoes on my kids feet, then I know that we're ready to leave shoes Make us ready to leave and face the world, just like the gospel makes us ready to face the world. You cannot just understand the gospel and its certain aspects of the gospel in your theology. You need to have the gospel impacted your heart and in your life.

"You cannot just understand the gospel and its certain aspects of the gospel in your theology. You need to have the gospel impacted your heart and in your life."

That's when you're ready to face the world, when it's impacted who you are at your identity level. And until that point, I dare say, you may just add to the divide and the polarization because we are the people of gospel and not just gospel, the gospel peace. The Bible says that we are to withstand the evil day. Do you know what that means? It means we're going to have to face it. We can't hide from it. We can't run from it. We stand and we withstand in this evil day. And thanks be to God, He's given us exactly what we need to make our stand. He's given us the spiritual armor, which is a call to fight spiritually. I stand up here and fight spiritually every Sunday when I stand up here and preach.

You, you do this every week when we gather and we celebrate God's word and we respond in worship and we lift up the name of Jesus. That's why it's so important for Christians to still gather in this world where it's so easy to stay home and watch online. This is why it's so important for us to gather. Because when we gather, we together are taking our stand. When we gather, it's showing the world and the forces of evil that we are making our spiritual and peaceful protests. So don't.

I mean, I'm thankful for the opportunity that technology gives us when we're away and when we're sick, but don't forsake gathering. This is one of the ways that we make our stand and take our stand, is when men bring their families and we worship together and we listen to the preaching, and men and women and children come together and we lift up the name of Jesus. It's one way that we stand and fight our battles. And yet, what's funny is that with this piece of armor, shoes readied with not just the gospel, but listen here, the gospel of peace is part of our spiritual armor. Anyone feel the conflict of interest there? We're wearing armor, but yet we're meant to bring peace.

How is that so? That's so because our fight is a spiritual fight, that we fight spiritually with a peace that transcends all comprehension because our peace is greater than the divide that's before us in our culture.

Now listen, we're about to get into it. Let me just say this, in our last election, our governor lost Berry County by only getting 37% of the vote. She barely won Kent County with only 54% of the votes. And so I know that for me to stand up here and talk about how crazy the left has become would be like preaching to the choir. I'll tell you right now, I have no interest in doing that. I am here to speak truth to this specific congregation. I neither have nor want a larger platform than this pulpit here to this church family because I'm a local church pastor called to equip this church family with the knowledge and the truth of God so that we can go and represent the King out there. I am not here to make friends, I'm here to make disciples. Drink it, let's go. Mm. We're about to, we're about to, sister. I will say this though, if you wanna get coffee, I'm always up for that.

Here's what I want you to do. Take a deep breath, and let's all get uncomfortable here for a minute. Again, Gallup Poll did a poll last year comparing the results from 20 years ago. Now listen, polls are polls and numbers are numbers and I'm not a pollster, I'm not an analysis. I'm just reporting on what's been reported. And these polls I'm going to cite, and I'm happy to share with you the documents I use, it's about the stance of Republicans and Democrats. Again, which unfortunately appears to be the clearest divide in this country. And it should be noted that what these polls did was they asked those who identify as independents to indicate which way they leaned, left or right, and then they lumped their numbers in with Republicans or Democrats respectfully. Other polls separate out independents,which is why you may find some discrepancies.

Now, I'm not gonna get into political issues, I just wanna stick with what I believe is clearly biblical issues. And as you see here, it's clear that the political divide, it's clear that in this political divide, the blue party is most aligned with some key views that are the most blatantly unbiblical. But they're not alone. Let's see what I mean. Abortion. Yeah, let's just start there. The killing of the life of unborn babies in the womb is something that the Democrats have gotten more radical on. In 2003, the percentage of Democrats who believed abortion should be legal under any circumstance was 32%. Today it's at 59%. That's a 27 point increase. Republicans have stayed largely the same over 20 years, actually slightly dipping from 15% to 12%. But listen, while the left is more aligned with some views that are the most clearly unbiblical, the Republican side is growing in acceptance of things the Bible does not stand for. I'm sorry, my friends, smoking pot and getting high is a form of intoxication. The Bible is not opposed to alcohol, but it's opposed to getting drunk and intoxicated. And that's what typically a person seeks to do when they smoke marijuana. If you don't think getting high is spiritual, let me just tell you, as a teenager in the 90s, it certainly is.

In the last 20 years, Democrats approval of marijuana has gone from 48% to 83%. Republicans have gone from 23 to 55%. Let me do the math for you real quick. This means the rate of increase of acceptance has been the same for both sides of the aisle. Or take the acceptance of the normalizing of having children outside of marriage, that focus is no longer supposed to be for a two-parent household, but the normalizing of children outside of marriage. Twenty years ago, Democrats were at 49%, they are now at 82%. That's a 33-point jump versus Republicans going from 37% to 61% a 24 point jump that is trending away from the biblical moral foundation.

Or take gay marriage and mind you President Obama got elected while saying He believed that marriage was for a man and a woman 20 years ago 52% of Democrats approved of gay marriage almost divided now to 85 percent. Another 33 point jump versus Republicans who went from 30 percent to 57 percent. A 27 point increase, again, trending away from the biblical standard. And when it comes to the moral acceptance of divorce, I'll be the first one to say that this one needs more nuance than what the polls allow. But if we just want to speak in very broad ways, here's the data. 20 years ago, 61 percent of Democrats said divorce was morally acceptable. It's now at 88% a 27-point jump Republicans have gone from 53% to 69% a 16-point increase That's trending away from the biblical hope for marriage now.

Listen marriage is a deeply spiritual thing It's also essential to the life and the health of a culture This is an important one the Bible does reserve divorce for very specific in situations But the biblical hope for marriage is that marriages are to be fought for If you're taking notes, let me let me summarize something here for you church in Many of the moral issues if you listen to what I just said The Republicans in general are more liberal on these issues than the Democrats were 20 years ago, with abortion being a noted exception. What I'm trying to tell you is that if you are a lifelong Republican, I hope you see that it's not just the blue party that's changing. Now, this isn't a sermon that both parties are just as bad. That's not what I'm saying here. But if anyone thinks that the Republicans or the Democrats fully represent the kingdom of God, let me tell you they don't. The church represents the kingdom of God. I am an ambassador for God's kingdom.

You know what that does? That allows me to take an objective look at both parties to see where they are getting strong and where they are falling flat. And I understand, believe me, I completely understand that people cast their vote for a wide range of political and moral issues, way more than what I've just talked about here, many more than I can describe here. I'm not attacking anyone for how they vote. I'm just asking everyone to see that when you look at both parties, in many respects, both of them are trending away from the biblical standard. So let's be clear on the data here. One party is perfect. The church isn't perfect. I'm certainly not perfect. But I will just tell you, when I'm looking to cast my vote, it's for a party that's advocating for rational immigration policies that welcome people legally into this country, as many as we possibly can do, but not an open border. I'm looking to cast a vote for a candidate who's not for killing children in the womb or the sexual mutilation of children who feel uncomfortable in their bodies. I'm looking for a party and a candidate that I fully understand will be imperfect, but I'm looking for the one that's the closest to the values I hold, the closest that the Bible teaches, because I believe that's what is best, not just for me, but for all of humanity.

Because in our system, we need to remember that in many ways, the thing that a politician does will last longer than their tenure. But the way things are trending, I have to ask, I wonder if 20 or 30 years we'll be able to tell the difference between the two parties. And because of that, the church better awaken themselves to what's happening on both sides of the aisle. And even more than that, we need to wake up and return to our original mission which is to go and make disciples with shoes laced up with the gospel. Let me tell you Peace Church, I'm happy to say this, we have quite a few people in our church family who are very active in local government. I want to honor them and we need to pray for them. Amen. So if you are involved in local government, I've got a rolling list. I would love just to make sure that you're on the list so I can be praying for you. If you are involved in any form of local government, would you please shoot me an email and just let me know how you serve so I can put you on my prayer list. So here's the question.

How does the gospel make us ready to face the day? Here's how. By reminding us that we are citizens of a country for a lifetime, but we are citizens of heaven for eternity.

And because of that, we should be objective about politics as we speak the presence of Jesus and peace into both sides of the aisle. How does the gospel make us ready to face today? By causing us to remember who we truly represent, by reminding us what we really stand for. As you remember that our fight is not with our neighbor or our political opponents, but it's with the spiritual forces of evil in this world that are moving everyone away from the biblical standard. How does the gospel make us ready to face the day? By reminding us that our symbol is not a donkey or an elephant. It's a dove that comes in power. It's a lamb that was sacrificed. Our symbol is the lion of the tribe of Judah. How does the gospel make us ready to face the day? By reminding us that our identity is not in any political party. It's in our Savior who shed his blood for us. It's in our Savior who does not come from either side of the political system, our Savior who comes from heaven.

And so we need to stand. Stand ready with the gospel for the gospel. And if you're like me, you get weary of the divide sometimes. If you're like me, you get angry at what's happening in our world.

And so if you're like me, let me leave you this last point. Like shoes, the gospel brings us back home.

3. Like shoes, the gospel brings us back home

The gospel of peace. I don't want this division. I don't want this divide. I don't want this polarization. Do you know what I want? I want to go home. My ultimate citizenship is in heaven and the gospel is my ticket there. Because it's the gospel of peace. And the most important peace we can have is not peace between the two sides of the aisle in America. The most important peace we can have is peace with God. And that's what the gospel brings us. It brings us to a peace that we can have with God because Jesus has removed the barrier of sin that separated us and God. And when we share that gospel with people and they enter into that peace, then we share in that peace with them.

Because you know what the gospel does? The gospel turns our neighbor into family. Sometimes family has disagreements on certain parts of politics. But you know what a family is united in? A family is united in values, in who our father is, and where our home is. And just like how my boots will bring me home at the end of the day, the gospel will bring me home at the end of my life. And between now and then, we have to fight. Between now and then, we wear our spiritual armor and we stand for the truth this world needs to know. We fight spiritually against the forces of evil as we speak the name of Jesus to those who need to hear it.

So when this world seems dark and the bitterness seems so strong and the divide seems to be only getting bigger, just remember when it's all done the gospel will bring us home. So let's stand and fight until then. Until that day with the hope of heaven in our hearts, we are to stand and we are to fight. Fight with truth and love, because remember, the gospel makes us ready to bring peace in a polarized world. So may you represent your Savior to a sinful world, holding Him out as the only hope we have as we stand with shoes readied by the gospel. Amen.

Would you please stand? I think in this time of all this newness and this divide and all the craziness, I think it's probably very appropriate for us to go back and sing an old hymn together. And so here's what I'm going to encourage you to do. If you are a follower of Jesus, we are singing for the glory of God in response to what Jesus has done for us, and we are singing as a church united in our peaceful spiritual protest against the great enemy. That's what we get to do here now as we raise our voices. So let's pray.

Father, we come before you. We ask here now, Lord, that as you have and you'll continue to pour out your Holy Spirit upon us, the Holy Spirit, as our ultimate worship leader, will you call us into a deep, deeply united time of worship as we sing with one voice of the truth of the gospel. God, we love you and we thank you. And we pray these things in Jesus' name.

And everyone said, Amen. And everyone said, Amen. Church, let's worship together.

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