Concerned

7 11 2008

The election is over.  Thank God!  No matter what your views were/are concerning what happened this past Tuesday, I think that we are all grateful that we will not be bombarded by images and new reports of the two candidates standing in a farm in Ohio droning endlessly about their type of “change”.   However, this election cycle has brought a very concerning trend to the fore; the level of political activism being practiced churches across the country.  Before you all decide to hang me from the nearest light pole let me explain.

I have been accused of burying my head in the sand, letting the world pass me by, not being aware of the “very important issues” that were represented in this election, etc.  I am none of the things that I have been accused of.  You will probably not find a person who is more in tune with what happens in the political, financial and global arenas than I am.  Politics affects my everyday job in a way that most people will never experience.  Taxes being raised or lowered has a direct impact on my company and MY wallet.  So these accusations can not be true in any way.  I am also not advocating people not voting their conscience, abstaining from voting or anything like that.  Here are my concerns:

1. We, the church, run the risk of becoming irrelevant if we allow our houses of worship to become political platforms for either party or causes.  This is not what we are called to do!  Our mandate from God is to “go ye therefore” (Matt 28:19).  It does not say to promote a political cause or movement.  Baptizing…yes, teaching….yes, converting….yes.  But not to become a political organization.

2. A congregant should never be made to feel poorly about their political views by the pastor, ministry team member or fellow parishioner!  Never!  We must realize that we are reaching a truly diverse world.  It is not my or your place to judge someone on the basis of their political views.   It should never even enter into the equation.  Only the love of God will convince a person to change over a period of time.  Me, as an assistant pastor, getting up and speaking my political views over a pulpit that is dedicated to saving someone from hell will not change their opinion and I run the risk of doing more damage than good!  This is especially true in extremely diverse areas of the country like California.  Am I saying that I sacrifice my politics or belief systems?  NO, but I do leave them at the door and not take them to the platform with me. 

3.  Any church that pushes a political agenda from the platform runs the risk of having their 403b and tax exempt status taken away.  This would in turn hamstring many of our churches and their ability to pay the bills, give to missionaries, evangelize their communities, etc.

4.  Jesus Christ, who we all say that we are following and trying to be like, made it a point to distance himself from ANY kind of political maneuvering or posturing.  When he was asked if he was the King of the Jews he replied, “You have said so” (Luke 23:3).  The disciples and the nation of Israel were desperate for a Messiah who would return them to their “rightful place” in the world.  In fact, Jesus was rejected partly because he wasn’t a political figure.  His message of peace, salvation and love was rejected by the Jews because they wanted to throw of the political tyranny of Rome.  You can bet that if Jesus had come and organized the people to overthrow the Romans they would have lined the block trying to sign up.  When Jesus was asked by the people if they should have to pay taxes to Caesar, he replied “Then render unto Caesar the things that are Caesars, and to God the things that are God’s”. (Luke 20:25).  You have to understand that this issue was as important to the people of Israel as abortion and same sex marriage are to us.  They believed that they had the MORAL right to oppose these things.  The business of the Church is to get people to yield the things that are God’s to God!  We have no business making political proclamations from our pulpits and Sunday school bible stands.

5.  Any person in a position of leadership should be extremely careful of stating their political views in any type of forum.  Remember, your blog, Facebook, MySpace, Plaxo, Twitter, etc., are read by many different types of people.  It would not be prudent to offend a member of your congregation simply to make a point or let of a little steam.

This election has stirred up a lot of negative feelings.  Race and gender are always hot button issues that run deep in all of us.  However, as Christians/Christ imitators, our duty is to be like him.  Not to push a political agenda or issue.  We should let the love of God work on people and let their political views mature over time.  We do this with standards.  The wise pastors don’t immediately began to tell people what they have to change.  We let God and time work on their hearts.  They inevitably will come to you to discuss things that they are doing that no longer feel right.  Why do we feel like we have to change their political views as soon as possible? 

In all of this we need to remember that “the king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever he will” (Proverbs 21:1).  It doesn’t really matter who is President or Governor.  God’s will will be done.  If we truly believe that “all things work together” then we need to leave the political arena, never to return, and get back to what we are supposed to do…….GO WIN SOULS!!

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7 responses

7 11 2008
Karen Hopper

Awesome post. I could not agree more. Thank you Than for your well thought-out, spiriitually clear, and well written penning.

7 11 2008
James Wilder

Than, I agree with this post.

Pushing political parties, candidates and ideologies… no. (although it may come out another way, since it’s who we are… eg., the idea of personal responsibility). Are there some things that can be discussed? Yes. This election season I know our church has publicly talked about 2 propositions: Prop 4 and Prop 8. This is in the bounds of acceptability within the state guidelines for tax-exempt privilege, and both propositions were very important issues that affect the cultural environment where we live, as well as declaring righteousness to our generation. That voice, like Johnny the Baptist crying in the wilderness, should never be hushed. But it’s concerning righteousness, not the blasted GOP versus DNC hogwash.

It does amaze me, however, that long-time Apostolics that I know are accepting more liberal views of government. The bigger the government, the greater the persecution. It’s not a salvific issue at all though, though certainly a matter for discussion. The best forums are private discussions when it comes to these matters. To that, I absolutely agree with you.

The comfort is that God’s Church was birthed in the middle of a horrid monarch and great tribulation, where the church was practically underground. Yet there was revival. The darker the hour, the greater the revival. Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

7 11 2008
James Wilder

And I agree, despite being guilty with my own comments added on various blogsites. Well, maybe it’s not guilt, but certainly not the best wisdom employed.

While I don’t believe in silencing political ideas, when the church feels like a political party’s headquarters and not a spiritual safe place, then there’s a major imbalance. That’s why I don’t quite get the Black Liberation Theology or movements similar that see themselves as “us versus the world”, instead of “us reaching the world”.

8 11 2008
Tyler

Good post Than.

Agreed.

10 11 2008
Chandra

Thank. You. For. Explaining. This. I was hoping that rants, raves, tirades, and political propoganda would cease after this fabulous election. Nah. So not happening.

10 11 2008
Jana Allard

I appreciate the spirit of this post but I will somewhat agree to disagree. As James stated, a church can publicly support propositions and not affect their non-profit status. That threat is only true when a church endorses or supports a candidate. In that respect, I agree. Our church publicly encouraged people to vote “Yes” on prop 8 and even made yard signs available for those who wished to support prop 8. In my opinion, there are just some areas that the church should refuse to be silent. The reason we are at the place where opposing same-sex marriage is considered bigotry, is because the church was silent too long.

Concerning blogs, I don’t think people should set out to be offensive, but I also don’t think they should hold back if they have a strong conviction concerning a matter. I have been very vocal during this past political season and I offer no apologies. To suggest abortion as a form of birth control, call unwanted children “punishment,” and a vote to support infanticide was enough reason for me to speak up in support of my convictions. Personally, I was not happy with either candidate and never endorsed anyone but, I greatly opposed the liberal views of Obama.

Than, there are just some instances that I refuse to be silent. You’re still my friend and I believe you will agree to disagree with me.

10 11 2008
Jana Allard

P.S. “Go ye therefore….” is the great command and should be the priority of the church. Even so, there are times when a line is drawn in the sand as a brief instruction. I don’t believe the churches who publically and quite vocally opposed Prop 8 ever stopped their outreach efforts. Maybe that is the greater question. Did they give more time in support of a moral cause then time spent saving souls?

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