Recently, I was interviewed by Fox News on whether Christian pastors should speak out about politics from their pulpits. (More at wcfav.org.) The amount of support I've received from that interview has been incredible—but the amount of criticism has been astonishing. I don't think I've ever been called more cuss words and names in all my life—just for declaring what God's Word says.
I have been told by many people—within churches and without—that I shouldn't be talking about this. I agree that it's a difficult topic, and many churches don't want to hear about it at all. Yet there comes a time when certain things need to be said. Like Jeremiah, God's word is in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones (Jer. 20:9), and I can't hold back. I must speak on these issues that are so important not only to us but to God.
Amid this "politically correct" world that we're living in, it's important for those of us who do talk about controversial issues to stay encouraged. When you know what God has called you to do, it's crucial to discern between the valuable constructive criticism and wise instruction from godly people who care about you, and the critical comments and opinions of those who don't.
It's true; there are some who do not like this message. And worse, most Christians are apathetic because it doesn't affect them—yet. About 10 years ago, a friend and I butted heads on this issue. But I recently emailed him and asked, "Now that you've had a few kids, have your thoughts changed on this?" His reply? "Oh boy, has it ever!"
Remind the Next Generation
Psalm 78 says: "For He established a rule in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers that they should make them known to their children, that the generation to come might know them, even the children who are not yet born, who will arise and declare them to their children: that they might set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments, and they might not be as their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation that did not set their heart steadfast, and whose spirit was not faithful to God" (Ps. 78:5-8).
God commands us to remind our children, to teach the next generation what we know about Him, His deeds, and His word. We read in Judges that "another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done" (2:10). In other words, that new generation departed from God—and that's what we are on the brink of today. Once upon a time, the pulpit set the tone for the nation; now there are those who would try to silence the outcry. If we don't talk about these things, if we don't warn from our pulpits, then the next generation will forget what God has done for this country. In fact, they are already forgetting. Please listen to the sermon referenced at the top of this article.
Daniel Webster, secretary of state in the mid-19th century, said: There is no nation on earth powerful enough to accomplish our overthrow. Our destruction, should it come at all, will be from another quarter. From the inattention of the people to the concerns of their government, from their carelessness and negligence.
Nevertheless, there is hope for where our nation is. There is hope for where the church is. And there is hope for your personal life—but it comes at a cost.
Jesus Wouldn't Run for Office
Some people will say, "What does this have to do with the gospel? Politics shouldn't be talked about from the pulpit." But when a person is born again—when their heart changes—they now yearn to expose the unfruitful works of darkness. They want to bring the light to all areas of life. They have a desire to proclaim God's truth from the mountaintops. And that's what this has to do with the gospel.
Many make the argument that Christians should not be involved with politics at all. However, did you know that the word politics means governing or leading a group of people? Do you think God's Word has anything to say about that? I will submit to you that it has quite a bit to say about it.
We often hear, "Jesus wouldn't run for office." Of course not—He is the Office. Do you not know that the government rests upon His shoulder (Isa. 9:6)? He will tread them with the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God; He has a name written: King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev. 19:15−16). Of course, He's not going to run for office. He doesn't need three branches of government—He is the Branch. Jesus Christ doesn't need separation of powers—He is the Power. He is the governing authority. He is sovereign, and all governments sit under His control. So, does it not stand to reason that He is concerned about what this government represents?
Spirit-Filled People Speak Truth
Where does this "don't get involved" mentality come from? Unfortunately, it comes from men and women who are cowards or who are ignorant to what God's Word says—they stay camped out in the "love verses" but not on the totality of Scripture. However, men and women who are filled with God's Spirit must speak truth. If we don't, what will we tell our children? Sorry, I was too busy on Facebook, I was too engrossed with Candy Crush, and I couldn't wait to retire and buy my motorhome and get out of here and leave you this mess.
No, when you're filled with the Spirit of God, you have to say something. Leonard Ravenhill once said: "You must weep before you whip." I've cover my sermons in tears before preaching them. Just like Jesus—He wept for Jerusalem. When the Spirit of God moves you, you have to say something, but cover it in tears first.
I get emails regularly from government officials, school teachers, chaplains in the military and the like who say, "This is ridiculous. We're being restrained. We can't say anything. We can't do anything. Why isn't anybody saying something?" Who has the moral authority and responsibility to speak out if not the church? Yet we don't, because we're too scared. We're cowards. We don't want to lose our 501(c)(3) status, as if God is concerned about nonprofit status. We don't want to lose our job. We don't want to be bold. We're afraid of what people may think of us if we stand up and speak truth. We enjoy comfortable Christianity.
We sheepishly remain silent while people accuse all of the nation's founders of being racists and bigots and Deists and say that America was never about putting God first. We can't look to the public schools to teach truth either—the very schools that were founded on biblical principles have taken a drastic turn into darkness. Dr. Benjamin Rush, signer of the Declaration of Independence, in 1790 said, regarding the public schools: "But the religion I mean to recommend in this place is that of the New Testament." How far we have fallen.
"The church must be reminded that is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state. ... If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority" (Martin Luther King, Jr.).
For the original article, visit westsidechristianfellowship.org.
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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