Mass shootings, redefining marriage, killing innocent children, LGBT agendas infiltrating all aspects of life. What in the world is going on? I believe that the pulpit is partly to blame.
There is a very troubling trend in the evangelical church as a whole. We are in desperate need of genuine leadership—broken, humble people who are not afraid to admit that they need God; men who are more worried about prayer than about status and recognition; men who petition God rather than position themselves.
Today, the truth is often neglected, watered-down, or avoided altogether in the hope of not offending members and building a large audience. Judgment is never mentioned; repentance is never sought; and sin is often excused. We want to build a church rather than break a heart; be politically correct rather than biblically correct; coddle and comfort rather than stir and convict.
"Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" (1 Tim. 1:15), yet, many avoid words such as sin and repentance. The good news about Christ can only be appreciated with the bad news as the backdrop. There are times when the saints must be fed, and there are times when the sinners must be warned (C.H. Spurgeon). Preaching must be done with God-given authority to truly be effective. When we fail to proclaim God's Word faithfully, we run the risk of "encouraging sin" and "perverting the words of the living God" (cf. Jeremiah 23).
Pastors are to be pillars who support truth not campions of silence. God has given us a wonderful gift known as America. The government isn't bad or good; her people determine success or failure. Why would God ordain our government and then not want us to steward His gift? Many have been guilty of not getting involved by saying, "We shouldn't say or do anything political. All we need to do is preach the gospel." Be careful . . . although the gospel is our primary focus, this shouldn't be an excuse against action.
James A. Garfield, an ordained minister and 20th president of the United States, said, "Now, more than ever before, the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness and corruption." We are actually voting for principles, not people—all candidates are sinners. "In what direction will they lead our country?" is the question we should be asking. Even more importantly, what country will we leave for our children?
We don't have to abandon our ethics or compromise our principles to be involved in politics—what good is salt left in the shaker, or a light that is hidden? Contextually, when Jesus referred to being the "salt and light," He was referring to holy living at the individual level, but the overlapping principle applies to all areas of life. "Politics" is not a bad word. In simple terms, politics refers to governing or leading a group of people. Politics won't save America, but in order to implement change and help others, we must take action; hence the political process. Would you have remained silent in the 1800s over slavery? Of course not.
Politics that once focused largely on the economy, national security and the deficit, now tackle important moral issues. These major issues have enormous implications; to remain silent actually makes a statement that we are not concerned enough. This is not just about the loss of jobs; it's about the loss of morality. We're not just talking about adding millions of dollars to the national deficit; we're talking about aborting millions of babies. We're not only talking about fluctuations in the housing market; we're talking about creating life simply to destroy it. This shift requires us to stay closely involved. Topics that are "too controversial" are often critically important; we can no longer ignore them.
Interestingly enough, the stability of America is one of the top concerns on the minds of many today. There was a time in recent history when America felt secure knowing that the most formidable enemies were abroad. Not so today. While we are concerned with terrorist attacks, and rightly so, there is a greater threat from corruption within. We, like the mighty Roman Empire that collapsed centuries ago, are crumbling from within. There are people and groups who are strongly committed to the destruction of anything rooted in our nation's Christian heritage. They attempt to be "one nation 'above' God," rather than "one nation 'under' God." Scripture identifies this as foolishness, self-exaltation and arrogance—the downfall of nations.
There is a saying that one generation plants trees for the next generation. I'm concerned that instead of planting, we are removing and destroying the very covering that protects us. As a result, our legacy as a great and noble nation has all but been forgotten. For instance, most schools no longer teach students about the spiritual foundation that has guided America throughout her history. Consequently, America's moral and religious heritage is often deleted, grossly distorted or revised altogether. Students often miss the critical connection between America's unparalleled greatness, her rise to world leadership and the spiritual foundation that made it possible. This should concern us. The ideas of the classroom in one generation will create the ideas of government within the next.
Today, our culture promotes relativism, and man does what is right in his own eyes. Again, according to Scripture, to his own destruction. God's Word says to confront, confess and turn from our sins; relativism encourages us to ignore, overlook and continue in them. Although this position may seem radical or extreme, we are living in extremely critical times. Make no mistake about it: We are witnessing the rapid deterioration of a nation right before our eyes. But there is hope: 2 Chronicles 7:14 calls out from the past with resounding clarity to America today: "If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."
There are times to encourage, motivate and uplift, but there are also times to confront, challenge and contend for what is right—that time is now. Let it not be said of us today: And there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD (Judg. 2:10). The day of the silent pastor who is more concerned about nickels and noses must end. Are we pleasing God or men . . . are we cowards or watchmen?
Free copies of pastor Shane's book One Nation Above God can be found at shaneidleman.com
Shane Idleman is the founder and lead pastor of Westside Christian Fellowship in Southern California. More can be found at ShaneIdleman.com, and free downloads of his books are available at WCFAV.org. Visit him on Facebook and subscribe to his new podcast.
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