Why Pastors avoid politics
Many Pastors in our nation decline to preach about politics. There are likely many reasons for this, including the desire to not offend congregants and to not foster an environment of political debate. Some Pastors believe that since politics don’t change hearts for Christ, politics don’t have a place in Church. Some Pastors believe that politics and Christianity are mutually exclusive. Some Pastors are concerned about losing government benefits related to their tax status with the IRS. Regardless of the reason, Pastors should know the truth about politics. What are politics, exactly? Where did politics come from? What role should Christians play in politics?
For Pastors the greatest challenge related to preaching politics lies in understanding how politics are defined. Politics are so negatively viewed that many Pastors completely avoid preaching anything “politically related”. However, politics are so much more than just which party to vote for or side with. Politics should not be reduced to only the Republican vs. Democrat debate. Choosing not to preach about which political party is superior is certainly understandable. Similarly, preaching a sermon on which candidate to vote for, is not ideal since much of that discussion will vary based on a Pastors personal opinion.
Understanding what politics are
When claiming that He was God, Jesus offended the Pharisees. Yet, He had no fear of their reaction, because He was telling the truth. Therefore, if God’s Word discusses it, Pastors should too. And the truth about politics is, the Bible speaks to political issues and government. In fact, God created us to “rule” over the earth. “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” Government was God’s idea, not mankind’s.
Politics are a natural product of Government. Dictionary.com defines politics as “the science or art of political government.” God established Government in the beginning (as He is our King) and He establishes our governing authorities (Romans 13:1). Since politics are the science of government, the two are linked. God’s word is full of political discussions related to the law, life, marriage, war, economics, and more. The Bible points us to a Savior, and it also gives us direction for how to govern our lives. This includes what our political views should be and which governing authorities we should submit to. Pastors avoid politics due to a false view of what politics actually are.
While it is correct to say that politics can’t directly change the human heart, that was never the purpose of politics. Politics exist in order for mankind to govern nations, not to save souls. And while salvation is obviously quite important and a large part of God’s Word, it is not the only topic the Lord cares about. Stating that salvation is the only important topic in God’s Word would ignore much of the Bible. Furthermore, while politics can’t save people, God can use politics to bring people to Him.
Pastors should preach politics God’s way
Encouraging congregants to vote is honorable, but there is more to politics than just voting. For believers, being active in politics requires having an understanding of the foundation of our government and how it operates, so we can apply related scripture (Romans 13:1-7) to our lives. It involves having a voice for the voiceless (Proverbs 31:8-9). It involves understanding who should take care of those who are in need (James 1:27). It involves understanding marriage (Genesis 2:24) and the value of life (Psalm 127:3). It also involves communicating with our governing officials, which opens up the opportunity to share the Gospel with them (Matthew 28:16-20).
The Bible speaks to all areas of our lives, including politics. Pastors can preach about politics (in a biblical sense) without giving their opinions. We should encourage our Pastors to have the courage to speak up about what God’s word says related to political issues and current events. A Pastor should care about politics to the extent that the world is able to witness God’s love for others in the political arena, yet Pastors should not care about politics so much that it becomes an idol (like anything else). Christians should be the light in politics and we need our Pastors to shepherd us in this. Although, this may require a better understanding of what politics are and perhaps a slight change in attitude about politics on the part of Pastors.
The message of life
God is the creator of life (Genesis 1:27, Genesis 2:7). God commands us to not take the life of an innocent human being (Exodus 20:13). God declares that our life on earth begins in the womb (Psalm 139:13-16). Based on God’s word and His nature, we can logically conclude that God is pro-life. In other words, scripture reveals that God considers an unborn child to be a living being and should be given every opportunity at life…
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5
“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
the fruit of the womb a reward.” Psalm 127:3
Save The Storks fights passionately for unborn children, which is in itself remarkable. What seems to be uncommon about this organization is how they fight for unborn children. They don’t organize their employees or volunteers to stand and picket in front of abortion clinics. They don’t use foul language or violence to express their views. Instead, they use weapons that are honoring to the Lord. Those weapons are innovation and love (Ephesians 4:15). They love on mothers by providing a service to them and educating them about the life of their unborn child via technology.
Educational organizations are motivated for various reasons. And often times certain organizations will emanate a negative tone through their ideology. There may be specific organizations that come to your mind in a negative sense depending on your own experiences. However, there are also some organizations that prefer to help others learn in a more encouraging and loving way.
By providing an educational and medically related service to pregnant women, Save the Storks is demonstrating the value of compassion for life. Instead of organizing angry protests or violent demonstrations, they are fighting an extremely intense political debate by demonstrating care and love for the life of others. Their core values of innovation and love are demonstrated by the work they do. In a time in which politics can be portrayed so negatively, Save The Storks strives to be a positive influence in the lives of others in the middle of a heavily debated political discussion. This represents a better way forward for organizational political activism.
What defines the beginning of human life? What does it really mean to have a choice? Save The Storks has asked and answered these questions in regards to life in the womb. Through ultrasound and other high-tech tools, technology has provided a magnifying glass to scientifically prove that an unborn child is a living being.
Save The Storks has saved over 1,000 babies from being aborted by being proactive in educating expectant mothers in regards to the baby that lives in their body. They partner with pregnancy resource centers to provide those considering abortion with alternatives that allow lives to be saved. According to Save The Storks, four out of five women who choose to board a Stork Bus, decide to choose life for their baby.
Save The Storks is an organization that cares for life by finding value in every individual, man, woman, and child. They promote life and they are committed to providing truth through technology so that mothers and fathers can better understand the life of the unborn child. There are a variety of ways to get involved and help Save The Storks save lives. Please consider volunteering and/or donating to this amazing organization.
The 1st Amendment
In the United States of America, the 1st Amendment to the Constitution reaffirms our God given right to freedom of speech. The text clearly states that Congress shall not make any laws that limit individual or group use of speech. There is no mention of any technicalities or extenuating circumstances that limit speech in any way.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
The reason that only Congress is mentioned in the 1st Amendment is because they are the Legislative Branch of our Government. In other words, the Constitution only grants Congress the authority to create laws. Therefore, the heart of the 1st Amendment is this… The United States Government cannot make speech or any form of speech illegal.
The consequences of making words illegal
Those calling for the abolition of certain words or forms of speech are missing a very important point. If the Government can limit some forms of speech, it can limit any form of speech. One may believe that another shouldn’t be free to use hateful speech, but who should be responsible for defining what is considered hateful speech? The Government? The problem is that what one individual believes is hateful speech, another may believe that it is not. And advocating that the Government should intervene in what should or shouldn’t be said by citizens could lead us to a never ending path of speech control.
Our nation was founded on the idea that government should be restrained from limiting individual liberty. The Founding Father’s believed with good reason, that an individual’s right to speak was more important than an individual’s right to not be offended. In other words, one could be free to speak their mind and the other could choose how to respond. “A soft answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.
The tongue of the wise commends knowledge,
but the mouths of fools pour out folly.” Proverbs 15:1-2
Speech that pleases God
God never gave the Government the authority to limit speech of individuals. When we decide that Government should determine what we say or don’t say, we have created a false idol for ourselves. This is an idea the Founding Father’s understood well. God should govern our speech, not Government. Government should not govern over every detail of our lives because that role has already been filled by a loving Heavenly Father.
As followers of Christ, there are words that we should not speak. We should seek to glorify God with our speech and let His word guide us in doing so. The 1st Amendment ensures that as U.S. citizens, we can say whatever we want, but as followers of Christ we should say only that which brings God glory. “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29
We should allow God’s word to transform us instead of allowing the Government to conform us. Let us put into practice what pleases God… “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;” James 1:19
Ever since Jesus came to earth over 2,000 years ago, there has been a lot of discussion among Christians about His second coming. Much of that discussion involves the first portion of Revelation 22:12, in which Jesus states “Behold, I am coming soon…” And as Christians, we understand that those words are true. Yet for some reason there seems to be a misunderstanding in regards to what soon actually means in the context of Jesus’ return.
What does soon actually mean? Does soon mean tomorrow? Does it mean a month from now? Does it mean a year from now? Or maybe the word soon is not a reference to a specific date or time at all. Consider these words from Jesus… “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” (Matthew 24:36) And if no one knows the day, can one know the week, month, year, decade, or century?
The phrase “coming soon” literally means “coming swiftly, quickly or suddenly“. Therefore, Jesus will return in the blink of an eye and promptly. His return is not overdue. He will return in His perfect timing. What seems like a delay to some is only a demonstration of His patience toward those who do not yet know Him… “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9
It seems obvious that since Jesus said He was coming back soon over 2,000 years ago, He was not using the word “soon” in the context of a date or time. Yet many Christians still take his words out of context and lead others to believe that He will return in a matter of years from now. As Christians we should be careful with our words when we share with an unbelieving world. When we tell those who already have a lack of understanding of our faith, that Jesus is coming back soon, we should be cautious.
We should provide context for our statements, so that His message is delivered clearly and without confusion. When we tell others that Jesus is coming soon, we should provide further explanation in regards to His “sudden” return. We should stop frantically checking our calendars and worrying about when He will come back. Instead, we should be comforted in knowing that it will happen swiftly when He is ready.
All of this may seem trivial at first, but consider the impact speaking out of context in regards to Jesus’ return could have on non-believers. If we tell non-believers that Jesus is returning soon without any explanation, they could easily interpret that to mean that we believe Jesus will return within the next few years. And if Jesus does not return in a few years, that non-believer could easily question our beliefs, and rightfully so. Would you want to follow a faith that teaches something that doesn’t happen according to what you have been told?
Believe and be ready
There are five important truths that we can know and share about Jesus’ return…
- Jesus will return (Hebrews 9:28)
- There is hope in His return (Titus 2:3)
- Be ready for it (Matthew 24:44)
- It will happen suddenly (Matthew 24:27)
- We do not know when it will happen (Matthew 24:42)
Let’s end the speculation of when Christ will return and begin focusing on being obedient to Him. We should focus our attention on doing the good work that He has prepared for us (Ephesians 2:10). There is so much that He can accomplish through us if we focus on the work He has for us, instead of spending our lives trying to predict the timing of His return so that we can get credit for being correct in regards to “Biblical Prophecy”. And let us always remember, that He will return in His perfect timing.
Controversy and tension
Over the last several months tension and strife have become the norm for our nation. A new President has been elected. Protests (both violent and non-violent) have seemingly become the main focus of the news and society as a whole. Social media has become an environment of anger and hate in many instances. In general, there are a lot of people choosing to be heard over choosing being kind.
It would be easy for us as Christians to simply ignore all of the problems in our nation by withdrawing from social media and turning away from any controversial discussions. However, I am reminded of what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16
Kindness and truth
As we learn from that same sermon, a city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Removing ourselves from controversial discussions may at times seem like the right thing to do. And there may be times when that could be true. Although, if we look at Jesus’ life we will see countless examples of Him speaking the truth in love when controversial discussions took place. For example, consider His encounter with the woman caught in adultery and the Pharisees who sought “justice”. Instead of ignoring the Pharisees when they mentioned what the law said in regards to the woman’s sin, he answered them brilliantly by saying, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”
Jesus wasn’t rude in his response, but neither did he ignore the controversial discussion. He spoke in truth and love in the midst of controversy. He simply reminded everyone in that group that they all had sin in common. While it may seem easier to remove ourselves from a controversial discussion, it may be perfectly appropriate to respond in truth and kindness. After all, our light shines brightest when we let it out for the whole world to see… “Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.” Matthew 5:15