On Sunday, September 28, 2008 The Alliance Defense Fund sponsored Pulpit Freedom Sunday . This was a Sunday in which Pastors stood up for their 1st Amendment rights by endorsing their Presidential Candidate. According to the IRS this is against the law. What was my response to all this? Although I happen to agree with the ADF that the IRS law is junk I chose to obey the law in spite of my disagreement with it. I did not preach politics that Sunday or any church service for that matter. Here is why:
- The Bible tells me to obey civil authorities (Rom. 13:1-7 ; 1 Pet. 2:13-17 ). God put those authorities in place. It is presently against the law to endorse a political candidate. I can obey the law and use legal means to protest. There are still plenty of options for me to endorse my candidate. It is not against the law for me to endorse a political candidate outside of a church service. I can slap a bumper sticker on my car, post signs, make phone calls, blog about it, have someone for dinner, and invite people to political functions. The IRS is not saying you cannot preach Jesus Christ. They are saying that you cannot endorse a political candidate.
- Misunderstanding of Christ’s purpose may occur (John 6:14-15 ). In Christ’s day people thought that His purpose was political reform. The Jews were looking for a king. Even the disciples misunderstood Christ’s purpose after his resurrection (Acts 1:6 ). In this age the church’s mission is summed up in Matthew 28:18-20 . We are to show others Jesus Christ by telling them and by living a godly life. How many Christians do you know who think they are "OK" because they are a political conservative? Misunderstanding definitely occurs.
- Other people watch FoxNews . Whether a person watches FoxNews or they watch a clip of it on the Daily Show, they hear all the typical political lines. Having my audience hear me repeat a line from FoxNews diminishes the authority that God has given me. I am to "preach the word " and proclaim "thus says the Lord." People are coming to church to hear what God says from His Word, NOT what I’m worked up about in the political world.
- I know many liberal democrats . I’m a political news junkie and a political conservative. But I never want my political standing to hinder someone from hearing the gospel. In this day people are very offended when you shove your political options their way. There is no better way to make people feel like you are shoving something on them than by doing so from the pulpit. Alienating someone before they hear the gospel is a bad evangelism technique.
- Nobody is convinced . This relates to the last point. You don’t convince people to vote for your candidate. Neither do you convince people to consider Jesus Christ. It really is a lose/lose situation. People are coming to church for something other than what they are hearing in the news. Give them the good news of Jesus Christ.
In this generation it is better to present the gospel message clearly without distraction. Make church services an example of true worship. Let Christ be so prominent that people leave encouraged that God is in control. It is fine to let people know what the Bible says about present day issues. But let them make the connection to a political candidate.
Be involved politically in your community. Use your personal time to get the word out about your candidate. Serve in your community so that people know you care. They are more likely to take your advice about a candidate if you have helped with community events. Stay balanced . Remember that political reform is never the answer to this world’s problems. Realize the completely refraining from all political involvement is never a correct response.
Disclaimer: In no way am I slamming Pastors who do not hold to this conviction. Many Pastors have a different conviction. They believe they are standing up for what is right in the face of opposition. Although I may disagree with them I do agree that this law needs to be changed. We can all call our representatives and we can all pray that this law will someday be overturned.
Feedback: Agree/Disagree? Let me know what you think in the comments.