As the confetti settles from the Democratic and Republican Conventions, there will be much discussion…
As the confetti settles from the Democratic and Republican Conventions, there will be much discussion and many spitting contests over which candidate is most qualified to lead the free world. People are still wiping the tears from their eyes after hearing Obama’s brilliant, if not historic, address to what seemed like 30 million fans crammed into Mile High Stadium. And who can forget Sarah Palin wowing America with her poise, charm and hockey-mom hotness? Even John McCain, known more for gruff asides than rousing speeches, grabbed a piece of the action last night when he backhanded his own party en route to a stirring invitation to “Fight with me.”
This historic race where progress has found its way onto both tickets has Americans sharply divided both generationally and ideologically. In fact, it seems that this will be one of the most arousing and emotional Presidential races in recent memory with people of faith staring over both sides of the partisan fence.
That leaves you, Joe Minister, in something of a quandary. Regardless of what the IRS prohibits, many of your church members will expect you to sympathize openly with, if not endorse, a particular candidate. Others will itch for you to sling barbs at a candidate from the platform. Neither of these things is unheard of these days.
While Christians should always and unashamedly be involved in politics, many people rightfully point out that, in recent years, the Church has often wandered too far into the political arena. You may remember, for example, one famous pastor in Memphis who diverted his national television ministry one week in the summer of 2004 to host a live broadcast from his church where viewers were asked to call specific Senators and urge them to vote in favor of a specific piece of legislation. Senators’ names and contact info scrolled across the bottom like a news ticker. (Makes you wince a little, doesn’t it?)
So, how can you speak to the culture in a timely fashion without crossing the political line? Or, to put it another way, how should you most effectively preach the word and tackle relevant issues without inciting countless angry emails and covert, late-night deacon meetings?
I think the answer is simple: Lead like Jesus.
You may remember that Jesus came to earth during a time of intense political partisanship, not unlike today. On one side was the oppressive Roman government and on the other were the Jewish politicians who badly wanted independence. It would be an understatement to say that these two parties had fundamental and irreconcilable differences. (In fact, their disdain for each other caused much bloodshed in the years following Jesus’ crucifixion.)
Interestingly, Jesus’ teachings resonated with the culture, yet He refused to side with either party. He instead chose to talk about issues of great importance. Jesus knew that when people place immense faith in politicians, they may lose focus of the real solution to the world’s problems—Jesus Himself.
As one who is called to ministry, you must never, ever back down from proclaiming truth as it is revealed in God’s word. But this doesn’t translate into party affiliations; it translates into moral values. I doubt that if Jesus were among us right now, he would join either major party. Instead, I think He would be the ultimate values voter.
As the lone sweeper’s broom swishes across the convention floor, try following Jesus’ example in your own arena. Avoid partisan posturing and instead endorse the issues that Jesus worked so hard to promote.