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Our Civic Responsibility

• Cedrick Baker

In this sermon, Cedrick Baker brings clarity to what it means to be civically engaged in our world in a Kingdom way. He offers insight into ways that we can be God’s love and light without falling into the traps of polarization.

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What is civic engagement? What does it look like within the Kingdom? Cedrick Baker addresses these questions at this especially important moment in America with the overturning of Roe vs. Wade.

Civic engagement is contributing and working to make a difference in the public (or civic) life of our communities and developing the combination of knowledge, skills, values and commitment to make that difference. It means promoting the quality of life in a community and solving public problems, through both political and non-political processes (University of Michigan – Edward Ginsberg Center).

Examples of civic engagement might include financially support Breaking Free, an organization that helps survivors of sex trafficking with housing and direct services, volunteering at Woodland Hills with the food shelf, or visiting with an elderly widow who needs help grocery shopping or cleaning her home.

Christians are ambassadors from another Kingdom, and we must understand how the Kingdom defines civic responsibility. The focus scripture shows us that the Kingdom of God is not a physical place. It transcends space and time. The Kingdom of God is wherever God’s people are located and living out their faith in relationship with God.

Our civic responsibility as ambassadors of the Kingdom of God must be shaped by three things. First, love must be the motivation of believers. Everyone in this world was worth Jesus dying for and we have an opportunity to acknowledge that by the love we show. We don’t need to know all the answers. As believers, the desire to see the love of Christ experienced in this world compels us to get involved in the affairs of our communities.

Second, we are the light. We read this in Matthew 5:14-16. We can’t be silent, we can’t be shy and we can’t hide. We must look for opportunities to “seek justice.” The Bible says when we do this, it allows our light to shine and others will see our good deeds and turn their attention to our Father.

Finally, examine how you are showing up in your community. We need discernment and direction on what “cause” to take up. What are you passionate about? What skills and experiences do you have to meet a need? This goes far beyond questions about what political party to side with. It’s about being present in our communities for the people in those communities. Our mandate is not to choose what’s right or wrong in our government. Our responsibility is always to show up and love no matter what.

We have a civic responsibility from the Kingdom of God to get involved in our community, being God’s Kingdom light to our sisters and brothers, and we can’t lose focus of that mandate based on what’s happening politically in our society.

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Topics: Justice, Kingdom of God


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The MuseCast: June 28


Focus Scripture:

  • Luke 17:20-21

    One day the Pharisees asked Jesus, “When will the Kingdom of God come?” Jesus replied, “The Kingdom of God can’t be detected by visible signs. You won’t be able to say, ‘Here it is!’ or ‘It’s over there!’ For the Kingdom of God is already among you.”

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25 thoughts on “Our Civic Responsibility

  1. Cindy says:

    THANK YOU Cedrick. You gave me words to help articulate my own sense of what I believe Jesus has and is sharing with me. Active loving and praying is WAY more effective than human legislature in bringing kingdom life to this current world. May we all grow in our ability to partner with Him as He works to bring his goodness to our lives and communities.

  2. Kevin says:

    Isn’t our allegiance only to God? When I hear ‘civic responsibility’ – I hear ‘get involved with the politics of the world’.
    Bringing aid and comfort to all who are adversely affected by the kingdoms of the world is our only duty; right? That, along with praying for those who have rule over us, like Cindy suggested.

  3. Joel says:

    I’m chagrined that LIFE was not affirmed, but rather a safe, middle of the road (good folks on both sides) response. Abortion is the “slavery” issue of our day and it’s right for Jesus followers to celebrate what a huge victory this is. It’s not over, but this was akin to the Emancipation Proclamation. Why not say “thank you God for breaking up the dark cloud of death hovering over our nation!”?

    1. ag says:

      Abortion does not compare to slavery in anyway, it would help to avoid such false equivalencies that tend to diminish the nightmare faced by the enslaved – something that continues to affect society till tomorrow. Please refrain from minimizing the horrors of slavery

      1. Joel says:

        Not a false equivalency at all. Slaves were not considered persons, thus they could be mistreated. Similarly, the unborn, until now, have been regarded as non-persons, thus able to be murdered in horrific, barbaric ways.

  4. Dan Kent says:

    Thanks for your thoughts, Joel. I’m surprised you came out critical of Cedrick’s message. He confessed being pro-life. Was that too safe? I also don’t understand your stance against the idea that good people can hold different opinions and can, therefore, be on both sides.

    I know there is a popular movement right now shaming people for “both-siding.” My sense, though, is that many of these folks who shame both-siding do so only to support their own attempts to divide-and-conquer God’s people. We refuse to be divided and conquered, regardless of how safe it might be to take a side. And, really, on this issue, picking a side is the safe road because at least then you make one group happy.

    1. Joel says:

      Thanks Dan. Not trying to be critical or shame others. I have seen WH celebrate other political “wins” and was hoping for more when 50’years of sanctioned child sacrifice was ended.

  5. Angel says:

    Greg Boyd made a sermon in 2004 about how to approach Abortion in a Kingdom way.

    How I interpret the message and what should’ve been done. The Court leaves alone Roe V Wade and create a new law, “What can I do to help you?”
    It’s a win-win for both sides.

    If you disagree with the Pastor, go talk to him.
    God Bless.

    2004
    https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cDovL3d3dy53aGNodXJjaC5vcmcvcG9kY2FzdHMvc2VybW9uc192aWRlby54bWw/episode/aHR0cDovL21lZGlhLndoY2h1cmNoLm9yZy8yMDA0LzIwMDQtMDUtMDJfQm95ZF9BYm9ydGlvbi1BLUtpbmdkb20tb2YtR29kLUFwcHJvYWNoXzY0a2Jwcy5tcDM?ep=14

    2022
    Fireproof Treasure
    https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cDovL3d3dy53aGNodXJjaC5vcmcvcG9kY2FzdHMvc2VybW9uc192aWRlby54bWw/episode/QnV6enNwcm91dC0xMDMzMzAwMA?ep=14

    1. Joel says:

      Righteousness exalts a nation. The Emancipation Proclamation didn’t end racism, but it was still a righteous act. The rejection of Roe will not end abortion, but it too is a righteous action. When life and freedom are affirmed, it’s worth celebrating.

      1. Matthew says:

        Will this reversal lower the amount of abortions overall? Will it simply push the procedures underground into unsafe catacombs where more death will reign? What about when the life of the mother is at risk? I suppose I need to do more of my own homework about all this before I hail this decision a righteous act worthy of affirmation.

        1. Joel says:

          Similar arguments could have been used about slavery after the Emancipation Proclamation. Out govt no longer considers killing the unborn as a God-given right. That is a good thing!

    2. Angel says:

      To add to my previous comment (please read that first).

      Here is the link of the sermon Greg Boyd did in 2004.

      Again, if you have a disagreement, go talk to Greg.

      Thanks!

      http://whchurch.org/sermon/abortion-a-kingdom-of-god-approach/#!

  6. Kevin says:

    Cedric, AFAICT, is taking Isaiah 1:17 out of it’s context. That verse was part of a prophecy given to the tribes of Israel. The prophet’s admonitions were to the Hebrew’s worthless sacrifices and it also spoke to how they were acting unjustly to each other – not speaking to the world at large.
    “they will know we are His disciples by our love for one another” John 13:35. We ‘love our neighbor’ – as ourselves.

  7. Kevin says:

    There are a multitude of secular Nonprofit organizations that are not distinctly Kingdom who do civic involvement – probably do a better job at it than we might do. That’s why I don’t understand how Our civic involvement will serve to point people to Christ. Won’t we just look like one among all the good-hearted, compassionate people of the world?
    Overall; is this how we bring the Kingdom to the earth as it is in heaven?
    I’m feeling shame over here because I’m personally not lifting a finger to go out and work toward standing against injustice.

    1. Emily says:

      You raise a good question Kevin. A couple of thoughts: Because Jesus’ great agape-love commandment included both loving God and loving our “neighbor” as ourselves (Matt 22:36-40), this means that what we are calling “civic engagement” is simply one of the means by which we actually and practically “love our neighbors.” As Cedrick emphasized, when we see civic engagement through a Kingdom lens of agape-love, then everything from addressing homelessness, to serving at a food shelf, to assisting our next-door neighbor with yard work is a manifestation of the commandment to love our neighbor. As you point out, initially our obedience to Jesus’ love command might look no different from an outsider’s perspective than what a secular non-profit organization is doing. But there will be two important differences. First, a Christian’s heart motivation will be to follow Jesus and glorify God. As Jesus so often emphasizes, God looks at the heart and inner motives more than he looks at mere actions. And so, in God’s eyes a Kingdom motive makes all the difference. Second, as Jesus followers are serving and loving their neighbors in these ways, they are also looking for opportunities to bring Jesus and his Kingdom into the conversation. In these two ways, civic engagement done for Kingdom reasons is very different than when it is done for other reasons. —from Paul Eddy

      1. Matthew says:

        Thanks Emily. Very helpful.

      2. Kevin says:

        Thank y’all for clearing my head on this!
        I forget to click ‘reply’ to a comment here and my response gets lost in the thread.
        Thanks again!

  8. Cercatore says:

    Inflexible idealogues, both on the Left and the Right, want the political freedom to kill people just in case it becomes inconvenient; one with a needle, and the other with a gun. Pretentious euphemisms such as; “All life is sacred” means nothing if it not backed up with loving actions that extend beyond the context of its use, otherwise you are just ‘paying forward’ suffering. So in that sense, ‘Both-siding’ is really the only logically coherent mode of response to this painful issue. The habitual tension reminds me of the Disciples arguing over what caused the Man’s ‘Blindness’ (“He or His Parents?”) rather than just taking the opportunity then and there in that moment, to manifest ‘Kingdom Love’ as Jesus then clearly demonstrated. We are so caught up in our differences and the lure and excitement of protest outrage, that we often fail to act simply to deescalate and deflate the problem. Technology in some regards has only succeeded in adding layers of complexity to this existential challenge, where one’s point of view and political affiliation takes precedence over the Kingdom Values of love, patience, forbearance, and forgiveness. We’ve known for millennia, from scripture and history, that the ‘weaponizing of the womb’ has been used to facilitate a multitude of nefarious agendas. Our Post-Modern 21st century digital age is no different. Behaviors, decisions, and actions are now all closely tracked, recorded and monitored for future use – essentially for shaming and economic extortion. I will contend that not allowing oneself as a ‘Believer’ to be pulled into either camp, is the most vitreous stance of all. Binary and polemic thinking often leads to calcifications of the heart where intuitive spiritual empathy is superseded by the acquisition of knowledge.

  9. Kevin says:

    Yes Emily thanks – I see a bit clearer on that.
    You use the word ‘neighbor’ which I’ve always thought to be all peoples, believers or not.
    Twice recently I’ve heard an uncertain sound in the use of ‘brothers and sisters’ that gives me pause. He said we go out into our communities to help our ‘brothers and sisters’.
    Many verses in the bible speak solely to the church so I’m careful in my reading to consider ‘audience’ as well as context.
    What do you say? Are the non-believers in the world our brothers and sisters?
    Jesus said that His brothers and sisters, mother, etc were those who do the will of the Father – to me that confirms that it’s only Kingdom people and disciples of Christ who we refer to as our Sisters and our Brothers – everyone else would fall into the category of being our Neighbor, right?

    1. Emily says:

      Response from Paul Eddy:
      Yes, the pattern in the New Testament is to save the language of siblinghood for those who have become covenant family through their participation in the New Covenant of Jesus. In that sense, all human beings are fellow creatures, loved and created by God “in his image,” and thus all humans are our “neighbors” whom we are called to love and serve. But our “sisters and brothers” are those who are fellow Jesus-followers.
      —Emily from Communications Team

      1. Kevin says:

        Perfect Paul and Emily – Thanks for that!

  10. Greg says:

    How very disappointing to hear on several levels. I won’t pontificate…you have made your position known and nothing I can say will make a difference.
    By the way…Lk 17:21…Jesus is saying to them that the “kingdom is among you”, that is, Jesus is the personification of the Kingdom. You made a choice on translation that has implications for your exegesis.
    It seems a simple issue: unborn babies are unique human beings not yet alive outside a uterus, but Alice inside it. Their lives should be protected and defended because my mandate is to love them. My mandate in loving their mothers is the same, however, it may look and sound much different.
    There is an existentialist hermeneutical at work here that runs up against the cruciform hermeneutic. I am so disappointed.
    I have read and listened for many, many years…and now…I am exiting the Woodland Hills world.

    1. Kevin says:

      To your point Greg – God did know Jerimiah even before he was formed in the womb! This also reminds me of a Jesus principle – we don’t have to commit adultery to be adulterers; were are adulterers when we first lust in our heart.
      A lustful thought is conceived in our heart and mind before that adultery baby is born, so to speak.
      Isn’t that a fair analogy?

      1. Greg says:

        My apologies. I’m not sure I understand your response. No need to reply.
        Not to worry.
        Greg

  11. Kevin says:

    .
    .
    Thank you so much Paul and Emily for clearing up that familial distinction – I was feeling gaslighted over here with my peeps over this matter.
    .
    .

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