Politics and Preaching – Part 1
Society tells us that Pastors can’t be political but have you ever read the sermons preached from pulpits all across this country during the American Revolution? The truth is pastors are people who are passionate about both Christ and country, so when it comes to politics they probably have an opinion. But over the last few decades the message to ministers has increasingly been that pastors shouldn’t be political. We seem to have forgotten that Martin Luther King Jr. was a Baptist preacher whose powerful preaching changed the political landscape of our country for the better. What if he had been afraid to share his message to the masses? What if he had cowered to those who called for him to be silenced? No Mr. King didn’t cower to the crowds he preach his powerful message of equality even paying for it with his life. His political beliefs were shaped by the bible yet today when a pastor dares to share his political views the statement, separation of church and state is often thrown in his face. There is an outraged accusation of an alleged violation of the Constitution’s ironclad requirement for the “Separation of Church and State.” But where in the Constitution is the statement “separation of church and state?” The truth is the constitution doesn’t contain that phrase anywhere. The phrase actually comes from a letter written by President Thomas Jefferson in 1802 to the Danbury Baptist Association, because they were concerned that Anglicanism might become the official or Established denominational preference of the new nation. Jefferson was trying to reassure the worried Baptists that no such “establishment” trickery was taking place. What appears to be true today is that the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause is widely misunderstood by most Americans. Most people have erroneously been taught that separation of church and state means that pastors can’t be political especially from the pulpit. What it simply means is that the state will not set up any official state religion or prohibit any person from freely exercising the religious beliefs in keeping with their own conscience. This means that this restriction on the Government’s intrusion into the private religious convictions of its citizens does not mean that all aspects of religion should be kept completely out of the affairs of the State. Today’s secular ideology is actually completely foreign to the original intent of the Founding Fathers. They drafted the Constitution, including its Bill of Rights, as a clearly defined limitation on the power of the Government to interfere with the freedoms of the people, NOT as a limitation on the power of the people to control the Government according to the beliefs of their own hearts. The true intent of the first amendment was not to keep religion out of the government, but to keep the government out of religion. Our forefathers not only fought with a nation bent on holding power over the people but against all odds defeated them. Yet they knew the propensity of the human heart in its thirsty pursuit for power, and in an unprecedented move they drafted a constitution unlike anything the world had ever see. Not only did they dare to dream but they were willing to casting aside all social norms putting pen to paper to protect the people from Government greed and power. Unfortunately most Americans today are completely unaware that it was the fiery sermons of the Patriot Pastors that sparked the American Revolution. If pastors preached like that today instead of praise there would be prison. Sadly, most Americans today have been spoon-fed a poisonous porridge causing them to believe that politics and preaching should be separated. So where do I stand when it comes to politics today? Well like Mr. King my beliefs are based on the bible and it saddens me that this country has stooped to hurling insults instead of showing intelligence. Instead of acting like presidential candidates they act like punk children, belittling each other and acting like brats. Do we really want to give power to the prideful or let habitual liars lead? Is this the best America has to offer, because it seems more like the bottom of the barrel than the cream of the crop. We are no longer at a tipping point; the plate has been dropped because we are now at a place where we are being united by hate instead of hope. While we claim to live in the land of the free we are really following our fear. We have leaders who spend more time tearing each other apart than proposing policies. The Bible reveals the results of this kind of belief and behavior in Mark 3:24 “If a kingdom is divided against itself, it cannot stand” Our current political process reveals a deeply divided nation, where many are wasting their time trolling the internet looking for some little tidbit that they can use to blast and bash the other side. The greatest enemy of democracy is not the external forces of evil but internal division. We have become a nation more preoccupied with demanding our rights than just living right. We are a nation driven more by law than love. So back to where do I stand on politics, I stand with the great preacher the apostle Paul who didn’t place his faith in politics but in the Prince of Peace Jesus Christ. Our security is not found in Government policies but in God’s plan of salvation. There are many Christians today who have become caught up in the frenzy of fear. Instead of following the Father they are following fear. Yes we should care about our country and our constitution but not more than Christ. Today Christians are clinging to a way of life instead of to the Word of life. We are more motivated by our anger than the Almighty. We are defining ourselves by what we are against instead of who and what we are for. Look just because the country has gone crazy doesn’t mean God is not in control. Today there seems to be a lack of balance when it comes to the church and politics, either we swing the pendulum to the far side of, preach the gospel but don’t get involved in politics, or the other side that says getting conservative Christian candidates elected is of the utmost importance. The truth is not only did our Forefathers make room for religious beliefs to be lived out, not only in how we govern our hearts and homes but also our nation, but they intend for those beliefs to be lived out. The problem becomes when we swing the pendulum too far to either side we do damage. Our hope is not in political policies it’s in the Prince of Peace, yet it’s this peace that should influence politics. Politics is not our first priority the Prince is, yet because He is our priority, He should influence our political perspective not people. The key question that we need to answer today is this, “Is Christ Lord of our political views?” On paper the answer to that question may seem obvious, but in practice it is anything but obvious. In the church we readily preach about living in submission to Christ in lots of different areas of our lives, yet when it comes to politics we seem to throw this teaching out the window. Even people whose lives are otherwise in submission to Christ have a tendency to forget about His lordship when the subject suddenly turns to politics. Many believers have never taken the time to think through what the Bible teaches about politics and our involvement. Yet if Christ is to be Lord of all of life and not just compartments of our life, this means that we must allow Him to be Lord of our political views as well. If you call yourself a Christian then I challenge you to answer the question, “is Christ Lord of my politics?” Because if not you probably have a polluted political perspective and there is a danger that fear not faith is driven the bus.