It does not surprise me that data collected from the General Social Survey indicate that most Americans, 71 percent, do not want their religious leaders getting involved in politics. (Story here.) This simply reflects many Americans view on religion. Religion is something you do when it is convenient and is to be kept locked in our own little religious box.
This is really a sad view on the state of religion and Christianity as a whole because the deeper issue is that many Christians live as though Jesus died on the cross to save them, but not to redeem them. What I mean by this is that they see the death and suffering of Christ as a means to provide eternal blessings in the future, and peace and tranquility in the present. The cross for these people is just an add on like so many apps on an iphone. They don’t want the pain and suffering that the believer is called to as we are conformed to Christ’s image. That is just too much Jesus for these people as they seek to keep religion compartmentalized.
“Yet when Jesus calls a man, He bids him come and die,” Dietrich Bohnhoeffer.
Christianity is not a religion that we compartmentalize. To do that we must ignore the truth of taking every thought captive, including those thoughts in the political realm of life as well as the religious realm of life. I believe one reason the American church is in such a pitiful state is because for far too long pastors have remained silent on issues political and economic. The pastors of this country have gone on far too long not speaking the truth about the political world as we are called to do. We have not been faithful in the smallest or largest areas of life and the church is weak because of that. We wanted to stay silent because of some ill-perceived rule that tax-exempt churches would lose that status if they spoke on the issues of politics. “You mean, we might actually have to suffer in order to speak the truth?“
Every prophet God sent to the Israelites suffered because he spoke the truth. Remember what Jesus said about the prophets that the Israelites loved: “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for so did their fathers to the false prophets.” Let’s be abundantly clear on this, Jesus was pronouncing doom upon those who mimicked the false prophets and sought the approval of men instead of God.
This is what those pastors who do not speak politically are doing today. The pastor needs to be free to speak freely on all issues of life, including politics. Can you imagine what would have happened if men like John Newton had remained silent on issues like slavery? Newton and his colleagues spoke freely on the wickedness of slavery, got involved in politics and brought that heinous institution to an end.
Yet today, we want to remain silent so we don’t lose… tax-exempt status… pathetic.
O that the men in the pulpits every week would boldly proclaim the gospel that not only leads us to salvation, but is to redeem every area of life… including politics.