What Would Jesus Say to... Part 1
What Would Jesus Say to Paul Martin?
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
October 24, 2004
(If you’re reading this
on the Internet, Paul Martin is the current Prime Minister of Canada)
Years ago, there was a
joke going around: “If Pierre Trudeau, Joe Clark and Ed Broadbent were
in a canoe on the McKenzie River and it capsized who would be saved?”
The answer of course would be, “Canada.” I suppose we could just change
the names and the joke could be recycled today.
It’s been over ten months since Paul Martin succeeded Jean Chrétien to
become the 21st Prime Minister of Canada. And what a year it’s been.
Martin rode into power on a wave of optimism, all set to fix all that
was wrong in this country and in the Liberal Party. Now, ten months
later, I’m sure Prime Minister Martin and his advisers are shaking
their heads wondering what in the world happened, and where their
majority government went. For the first time in 25 years, we have a
minority government in Canada. And in recent weeks, there have been a
couple of times when this minority government has narrowly avoided a
vote of non-confidence which could have meant the collapse of the
But then, that would be no surprise. The average lifespan of a minority
government in Canada is only 1 year, 5 months and 27 days. You may
recall Joe Clark’s minority government, which lasted a mere six months.
According to CTV News, the best guessers are predicting that this
government will last 18 months to two years. If that’s true, then get
set to see all those campaign signs plastered all over the city again
within the next year.
Our country may very well be at critical spot in its history. Over the
next six months, 18 months, or five years decisions will be made that
will tug at the very moral fibre of our nation. And as God and His
values are pushed more and more to the sidelines of society, you and I
need to discover where we fit, what our role is, and how we stay true
to a Holy God while living in an unholy world.
Let me ask you a question: Regardless of which side you’re on, what are
some of the major moral issues that are facing our country right now?
Our country is not just facing moral issues. There’s internal politics,
national security, foreign affairs, scandals, and a host of other
problems and pressures that demand our Prime Minister’s attention,
pressures emerging both from here in Canada and from countries around
So given that reality, it begs the question, “What would the most
powerful Being in the entire universe say to the most powerful person
in Canada? What would Jesus say to Paul Martin?”
We’re going to take a stab at answering that here this morning. But
before we do that, let me start by saying that there are three things
we’re not going to do this morning. First, we are not getting into
partisan politics. We’ve been very careful to steer clear of the entire
party thing here at Sunrise and we’re not going to change that now. We
can and have discussed issues, but we’re not going to get into
endorsing one party over another. Secondly, we’re not going to second
guess Paul Martin’s relationship with God. Martin was brought up in a
Catholic home and I understand that church attendance is a priority for
him no matter where he might be or what he might be doing. But I’ve
never met the man and I don’t expect I ever will. So we are not going
to comment on his faith or try and second guess his relationship with
God. And the third thing we’re not going to do this morning is spend
time critiquing Paul Martin and his policies. You want to discuss
politics? We have a place for that. It’s called Tim Horton’s. But we’re
not going to do it here this morning.
What I want to do instead is focus in on a few of the many things that
Jesus might say to Paul Martin, and on a broader scale to look into the
wisdom that is given from the Bible for all of us in positions of
influence. Perhaps you’re a leader at work, in the classroom, in the
home, in the church, in a community group. I’ve been told that even the
most introverted of us will influence at least 10,000 other people in
the course of a lifetime. So really there’s a message for each one of
us here this morning.
So what would Jesus say to Paul Martin? I think the first thing that
Jesus might say comes from the Old Testament, from the book of Psalms.
Psalm 78 in particular. This is a very long Psalm… a Psalm that
chronicles some of the rebellion of the people of Israel and some of
the problems they had through their history. At the very end of the
Psalm, though, it talks about King David… a leader that God anointed
for Israel and some of his characteristics. And I would think that
these would be characteristics that God would want for leaders today as
well. So in verse 72 of Psalm 78 we read…
Psalm 78:72 (NLT)
He cared for them with a true heart and led
them with skillful hands.
In the NIV it puts it this way…
Psalm 78:72 (NIV)
And David shepherded them with integrity of
heart; with skillful hands he led them.
And so the very first thing that I think Jesus would say to the Prime
Minister would be, “Paul, lead with integrity of heart!”
What Would Jesus Say to Paul Martin?
1. Lead with
Integrity of Heart
Integrity. It’s one of
those words that we are hearing used more and more. You ever wonder
where it comes from? Well, I’m going to tell you anyway. It comes from
the Latin integritās, which is also the root word for integer. You all
remember your junior high school math? Do you remember what an integer
Here. You tell me which of these numbers is an integer. (19, ¾, 27.3)
If you answered 19, then you answered correctly. An integer is a whole
number, 1, 5, 19, 32, 111, 1,324,567. An integer is not written as a
fraction like ½ or ¾ or like a decimal such as 27.3. It’s a whole
number, not fragmented in any way. So integrity suggests a wholeness, a
completeness, a oneness.
Another word that shares the same root is integrated. And so we could
say that integrity is when all aspects of your life are integrated.
That is, they are all working together as a whole.
You see God wants his people to function as whole people. If you can
remember back to the Greatest Sermon in History, you’ll remember that
Matthew 6:24 (NLT)
“No one can serve two masters. For you will
hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the
You can’t serve two masters because if you try to do that your loyalty
will be divided… fragmented. So as a Christian, integrity means
wholeness… a wholeness between your beliefs and your behaviour, between
your creed and your character. A person with integrity has consistency…
what he believes is how he acts. What he says is what he will do.
That’s why I have a problem with politicians who say, “I’m a Christian
but I don’t let my religious beliefs affect my policies.” Something’s
wrong with that picture. A leader of integrity doesn’t talk about how
they have a faith but it’s a private faith. In politics the concept of
a private faith is very convenient. When their private faith is in line
with public policy, they trot it out and show it off. But when they
come to an issue that is at odds with their faith, they retreat into
the shelter of faith being a private matter.
Faith needs to be personal, but never private.
I don’t want to suggest that leaders need to be standing on rooftops
proclaiming their faith or quoting Bible verses every other sentence…
not even Jesus did that. But what I am saying is that a faith that’s
just a faith in the interior of your heart is a faith that’s too small.
If a person takes their belief seriously, then that faith should have
an impact on how they live, what they say, and how they act.
And so I think that Jesus would say to Paul Martin and all leaders,
“Lead with a heart of integrity. Let there be no inconsistency between
you beliefs and your behaviour.”
And then, from the same
verse in Psalm 78, I’m sure that Jesus would say, “Paul, it’s important
to lead with integrity. But it’s equally important to lead with
2. Lead with
Psalm 78:72 (NIV)
And David shepherded them with integrity of
heart; with skillful hands he led them.
If you were to go back into the original language here you would
discover that “skillful hands” was a Hebraic euphemism. You know what a
Hebraic euphemism is, right? It’s a euphemism in Hebrew. It’s another
way of saying something… a figure of speech. In this case, referring to
discernment or wisdom.
It was Samuel Johnson who wrote…
“Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without
integrity is dangerous and dreadful.”
~ Samuel Johnson
So you need integrity, yes, but you also need knowledge… you need
know-how… you need wisdom. Why do leaders need wisdom? Well, first of
all it helps us to know when it is legitimate to compromise and when we
need to stand firm. Compromise is often seen as a dirty word but it
doesn’t have to be. All too often when we think of compromising we
think we lose, but it’s also about winning. As a matter of fact, in a
perfect compromise everyone wins. Politics has actually been called
“the art of compromise.” And that’s never more true than when you’re
dealing with a minority government. Often, in order to achieve anything
of consequence in politics, there’s got to be a little give and take.
“You do this for me and I’ll do that for you.” Wisdom gives us the
ability of knowing when to bend and when to stand and say, “no more.”
Our Prime Minister also needs wisdom to govern effectively as a
Christian in a pluralistic society. You see, Canada isn’t a theocracy.
It’s not governed directly by God or the Bible… it’s governed by a
constitution. And even though our country may have been founded on
Judaeo-Christian principles, we live in a country made up of people of
all different beliefs and backgrounds. So how do Christian values
function in a pluralistic society? Well, there are certain principles
from the Bible that apply in all cultures at all times and should be
enforced by law. Things like a respect for the sanctity of human life…
“Thou shalt not murder.” That’s a non-negotiable. It’s a law in Canada
and should be.
But there are other things that the Bible calls sin that aren’t against
the law… that in a pluralistic society you can’t directly outlaw and
send people to prison for. Think about adultery… martial
unfaithfulness. The Bible calls that a sin, but can we send people to
jail for it? How about honouring your father and mother? If disobeying
that was a criminal offense, I’d be serving a life sentence. What about
private consensual homosexual behaviour? The Bible says it’s wrong,
calls it a sin against God, I’ve preached against it, and it’s clearly
condemned as inappropriate, but should we prosecute people in a
pluralistic society for private consensual homosexual behaviour? Gets a
little tougher, doesn’t it? Where do you draw the line? And make no
mistake, there are lines that need to be drawn. But where do they need
to be drawn? That’s where discernment and wisdom comes in.
A Christian leader also needs to know when to stand up and say, “Just
because something is legal doesn’t mean it right, doesn’t mean it’s
moral, doesn’t mean it’s desirable, doesn’t mean our society should
embrace it, promote it, or give special privileges to it. Just because
it’s legal doesn’t mean it’s right.”
And wisdom comes in handy when you have two opposing moral views
colliding. Happens everyday in Ottawa, the Legislature and City Hall.
You see, it isn’t always a great good versus a horrible evil. As a
matter of fact, in life it is very seldom that clear cut.
For example, I think we would all agree that it’s a good thing to pay
down the deficit. No one would argue with that, but what if it means
you also loss some jobs? how do you find the balance? If you could
balance the budget with the loss of one job would that be good?
Probably not to the person who lost the one job. How about with the
loss of 10 jobs? 100 jobs? How about 1000 jobs? Where do you draw the
How about embryonic stem-cell research? Advances in medical science are
good and can benefit thousands of people, but is it right to destroy
life to save life? And in a country where abortion is legal and even
government sponsored, where as a leader do you take a stand? It’s tough
being in charge, isn’t it?
Earlier I spoke about the issue of consensual homosexual activity. How
do you balance respect for people with the fact that the Bible condemns
their behaviour? Plus, hatred is wrong, whether it directed at
homosexuals or heterosexuals. And so we struggle with the morality of
“love your neighbour” and all that implies, along with the fact that
God’s Word condemns homosexual behaviour. In that same way, by the way,
that it condemns heterosexual behaviour outside of marriage.
And so I’m sure that Jesus would say to the Prime Minister, “Paul, it’s
not enough to lead with integrity. That’s a start, but as important as
that is, you must also lead with wisdom.” And probably Paul Martin
would ask the same question that most of us would… “Ok, how do I do
that? Where do I get that kind of wisdom?” James tells us. Read this
James 1:5 (NLT)
If you need wisdom—if you want to know what
God wants you to do—ask him, and he will gladly tell you. He will not
resent your asking.
Number three. I think
the third thing that Jesus might say to Paul Martin is, “Paul, listen
to My voice.”
3. Listen to My
Jeremiah 7:23 (CEV)
“If you listen to me and do what I tell you,
I will be your God, you will be my people, and all will go well for
I’m sure Jesus would tell the Prime Minister, “Paul, listen for me
above the clamour of the crowd.” Leaders are being barraged constantly
by the voice of the people which in a democracy needs to be listened
to, and by lobbyists who to a certain degree need to be listened to as
well. But if we are going to lead with a heart of integrity and wisdom
we need to keep our ears attuned to God and what He is saying to us.
Anyone watch The West Wing this week? After a terrorist attack,
everyone wanted President Bartlett to order a retaliatory attack
against Iran. The public, the Congress, the military, his staff, even
his Chief of Staff was pressuring him to order the attack. Problem was,
there was no evidence linking Iran to the terrorist attack. So despite
the fact that virtually everyone was pushing for him to retaliate, he
wisely held back.
The danger of listening to the lobbyists or the crowd is demonstrated
in an ugly incident recorded in the New Testament. It involved a man
named Pontius Pilate, who was the governor of Judea. And into his
neatly ordered world came some lobbyists looking for a favour. They
were leaders of the established religion, and the favour they wanted
was to have Jesus killed. He was rocking the boat and they wanted Him
Now, Pilate knew that Jesus was innocent. He knew that Jesus had done
nothing wrong, and he told the people that on three different occasions
in the book of John. But then to the voice of the lobbyists was added
the voice of the crowd. And they clamoured for the crucifixion of
So now Pilate had to decide, should he follow his conscience or should
he follow the dictates of the crowd? Maybe he should have read Harper
Lee, but then again Lee wouldn’t be born for another 1900 years. But if
Pilate could have looked ahead, he would have discovered that Lee said…
“The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s
~ Harper Lee
If Pilate knew that Jesus was innocent, what went wrong? How did Jesus
end up on the cross? Jesus ended up on the cross because Pilate
listened to the wrong voice. He listened to the combined voice of the
crowd and lobbyists instead of listening to the voice of Jesus.
The Crowd spoke and the lobbyist spoke, and then Jesus spoke. And He
John 18:37 (CEV)
“…everyone who belongs to the truth knows my
And Pilate’s response was so cynical. He just looked at Jesus and said,
“what is truth?” And with a wave of his hand he had Jesus killed. Or
more accurately, with the washing of his hands he symbolically said,
“I’m personally opposed to killing Jesus, It’s my private belief that
he’s done nothing wrong, but the majority has spoken. So let them have
their way.” So he let the roar of the crowd and the whining of the
lobbyists drown out the voice of truth that was coming from God.
Often leaders will use the will of the people as an excuse for doing
something they know they shouldn’t do. You often hear political
statements beginning with the phrase, “the majority of Canadians feel…”
So what? Even if the majority does feel a certain way, does that make
it right? So Jesus might say to Paul Martin, “Paul, go ahead and listen
to the crowd… hear their views and check out opinion polls. They can
and should influence your decisions… sometimes. But when I speak,
listen. When I lead, follow. When it comes to issues of truth and
morality, of right and wrong, then only one voice matters… Mine.”
How do you stay in communication with God? Not just by being a
churchgoer, but by having a relationship with God… a personal living
relationship that keeps you in communication with the King of the
universe. Not just by reading the Bible, but by having it shape your
worldview. And by going to God and asking him to lead you.
Psalm 95:6-7 (NLT)
Come, let us worship and bow down. Let us
kneel before the LORD our maker, for he is our God. We are the people
he watches over, the sheep under his care. Oh, that you would listen to
his voice today!
I think one more thing
that Jesus just might say to Paul Martin as a way of encouraging him
is, “Paul, remember you are being prayed for.”
4. Remember You
Are Being Prayed For
“Paul, there is
something you need to know about… something you need to be aware of.
And that is that all over this country I have asked my people to pray
for you. My people are praying for you, Paul. All over this country
they are on their knees and they are praying for you, for your family,
for your cabinet and for this country. Paul, I have told… no, I have
commanded my people to pray for you.”
That’s something Jesus might tell Paul Martin. How do I know that?
Because of what His Word says.
1 Timothy 2:1-4 (NLT)
I urge you, first of all, to pray for all
people. As you make your requests, plead for God's mercy upon them, and
give thanks. Pray this way for kings and all others who are in
authority, so that we can live in peace and quietness, in godliness and
dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, for he wants everyone
to be saved and to understand the truth.
1 Peter 2:13-14, 17 (NLT)
For the Lord's sake, accept all
authority—the king as head of state, and the officials he has
appointed. For the king has sent them to punish all who do wrong and to
honor those who do right…
Fear God. Show respect for the king.
Want more? Check out Romans 13…
Romans 13:1 (NLT)
Obey the government, for God is the one who
put it there. All governments have been placed in power by God.
You and I are told to respect, honour and pray for the authorities that
rule over us. All believers are to do that. And there are lots who are
doing that. There are Christians who support the Liberal party who are
praying for Paul Martin, and there are Christians who support the
Conservative Party and the NDP and the Bloc who are praying for him as
Praying for our governing officials is not a partisan issue and it does
not depend on who you voted for last summer. And it doesn’t even matter
if you agree with everything they say or do. Pray for your leaders.
That is our responsibility as believers. To pray… not only for Paul
Martin, but also for Pat Binns, Shawn Murphy, Clifford Lee, Members of
the Legislative Assembly, city councillors, and whoever else is in a
position of authority in our government.
So cut back on the criticism, stop the character assassination, and
learn to pray for and support your leaders. Now, that does not mean a
blind allegiance. It does not mean that we can’t state our disapproval.
It does not mean that we support them and obey them no matter what.
When laws or policies are in direct conflict with the Word of God, then
your allegiance is clear. As Peter and the other disciples had to tell
the authorities who were trying to stop them from preaching…
Acts 5:29 (NLT)
“We must obey God rather than human
But even when you disagree with your leaders and can’t condone or
comply with their decrees, you should still pray for them. Not against
them, but for them. Pray for the power and presence of God to be
realized in their lives, pray that God will soften their hearts and
make them sensitive to His promptings, and pray for their personal
needs for faith, security, trustworthy advisors, and for the health and
welfare of their families.
Can you do that? Will you agree this morning to pray for your leaders?
Will you do it on a regular basis? Maybe daily, maybe weekly, maybe
monthly? Will you commit yourself to praying for them? If you will do
that this morning in obedience to the Word of God, then this is what I
want you to do…
I brought with me this morning five letters: one to Prime Minister Paul
Martin, one to Premier Pat Binns, one to MP Shawn Murphy, one to
Senator Percy Downe, and one to Mayor Clifford Lee. If you will commit
to praying for them, then I want you to sign your name at the bottom of
each letter. And then I’m going to mail it to them. Because if Jesus
would tell them that His people are praying for them, and if we are His
voice in the world today, then we need to tell them we are praying for