The divide in our nation among Christians seems to be fueled primarily by misinformation and false narratives. I believe God is allowing these differences so we can practice Scripture and love those we disagree with, but some groups are being outright dishonest. For example, Not Our Faith—a bipartisan Christian group who seeks to draw away voters—keeps using the "kids in cages" argument. The photo that many refer to was actually taken in 2014, years before our current president was in office.
One of the biggest shocks for me came when I visited the U.S.-Mexico border. At that time, I was able to talk to the officer who had firsthand knowledge of kids supposedly being separated from their parents. He said that parents are not being separated from their children as portrayed in the media. The truth is that kids are often smuggled in with families that they don't even know. When they catch the traffickers, Customs must separate the children from them and try to provide the best environment for them while sorting out all the details.
We need to step back from the political rhetoric and the mindless regurgitation of whatever we hear on social media or on cable news. For example, consider this common scenario at the border: If a parent is charged with what is referred to as criminal law, then the child is placed with the proper authorities if a close family member cannot be located—much like a person being arrested in America for a DUI with a child in the car. If the police officer cannot get in contact with the driver's family, the child will be placed elsewhere while the driver is arrested for child endangerment. The media doesn't tell you this.
The fact is, border officials spend an enormous amount of time trying to find placement with family members when displacement does happen. What a travesty when Christian leaders unwittingly, or worse, knowingly, promote false narratives for political gain.
Is Not Offending Others Our Goal?
Another faction fueling confusion are those who say that Christians who support President Trump are hurting the gospel. Their thought process goes something like this: "When you support someone like Trump, you alienate people and turn them off to the gospel." In order to gain insight into this point of view, I recently spent time with Christians who take this position. Though I left that meeting with a better understanding of how people feel, I was more convinced than ever of the dangers of allowing our feelings to outweigh objective truth.
The statement that "supporting the president hurts the gospel" troubled my thoughts as I drove home. I wondered, "Would these same people use this argument in the late 1800s, suggesting that we shouldn't support Lincoln because it could hurt our witness to slave owners?" Lincoln was different from President Trump, but the principle still applies: We can't make decisions based on the fear that something will offend; we must make decisions based on what is right.
If we are consistent and take this line of thinking about hurting the gospel to its logical end, does that also mean we shouldn't speak out against abortion because it may hurt our witness to physicians who perform them? Or what about the parent who had an abortion—should we not mention any pro-life positions because it may offend them? No, it's okay to speak the truth in love and then offer hope as I did here in "What Happened When I Told My Daughter About My Abortion." Offering hope elevates the gospel.
Should I stop talking about the perversion in Hollywood because it might offend an executive on Sunset Boulevard? Of course not. Sharing the Good News—the gospel—doesn't work if we remain silent and capitulate to political correctness. If you're walking on eggshells and gauging every word carefully so as not to offend, your speech will be spiritually impotent. We have too many cowards and too few Spirit-filled leaders. As Leonard Ravenhill said, "We have too many puppets in our pulpits and not enough prophets." I couldn't agree more.
Would 'Woke' Christians Rebuke Jesus?
Would many of these Christians tell Jesus not to call the religious leaders whitewashed tombs and vipers because it may hurt His witness to them (Matt. 23:23, 27)? Would they tell Jesus not to say, "Sin no more, lest something worse happens to you" (John 5:14b) because it will turn His hearers off? Would they caution Him against offending His audience when He said, "Do not fear those who kill the body but are not able to kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell" (Matt. 10:28)? I think we all know the answer.
In 1 Corinthians 9:22b (NIV) when Paul said, "I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some," he was being culturally relevant, not truth deficient. Our attitude shouldn't offend others, but truth will. We should be more concerned about God's opinion than popular opinion. I truly believe that a lack of boldness in the pulpit (and the pew) is the result of not spending sufficient time alone with God and allowing His Word to empower us. Instead of spiritual guns of boldness being loaded in the prayer closet, we are turning into passive cowards who cover our lack of boldness with political spins and worldly excuses.
We must preach the difficult truths to set people free. The church cannot neglect, water down or avoid preaching hard things because they may offend. Oswald Chambers reminds us that "the words of the Lord hurt and offend until there is nothing left to hurt and offend." The gospel hurts before it helps; it condemns before it releases. To remove everything that offends is to remove the very foundation of the gospel.
The goal of preaching is to faithfully proclaim the Word of God, and not worry about "crowd appeal." The church, as a whole, may have forgotten this vital truth, but it doesn't follow that we should. We need to be "woke" to the things of God and "cancel" cowardliness. (Watch a short clip here).
Special Note: With this being the most important election in our lifetime, we made my book One Nation Above God available as a free download here. It is a great resource to share with family and friends who are on the fence and for those questioning America's past.
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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