This article has been used with permission from Michael Sherrard. Michael will be a speaker at our Annual No Pat Answers Conference on April 8-9, 2016.
This time of year, my church doesn’t need a “5 Ways to Make Jesus the Reason for the Season” type of sermon. We are not in a time of peace. We cannot keep drinking our spiced eggnog pretending that all is well in the world. While we deck the halls with boughs of holly, there is a mob that has set fire to boughs of their own, and they are marching toward us.
Now, of course it is right to celebrate. I’m not saying otherwise. But pastors are not merely MC’s. They are watchmen. And when the enemy is before us, the watchmen better not have his head down wiping the eggnog off his ugly sweater as the walls are being scaled.
Rather than be caught defenseless, pastors must equip their people to engage a culture that is becoming increasingly hostile toward Christianity. And so, the pulpit must be political. Yes, I know that Christ’s kingdom is not of this world. Let’s get that out of the way. I already hear your objection: "We should care more about salvation than society." Sure, I agree. It is better to lose the world than your soul. But if you think that society can go to hell as long as people don’t, you’ve fallen for an old trick and you’ve misunderstood the nature of the gospel.
A politically silent pulpit is one that is catering to the secularist's agenda: “Keep you religious beliefs private. They are not wanted in society. They are no good to us.” And for some reason, we've bought into the propaganda of those that want to fashion a society after their own values. Somehow they have convinced us that the only good beliefs for society are the beliefs of atheists. But beliefs that are true are true for all and are good for all. It does not matter where they come from. And if the Christian message contains truth, the application of that truth is far reaching. It does not end at the capital steps.
Christianity is an all-encompassing worldview. Meaning, it is a set of true beliefs that affect all of life. The gospel itself has implications that go beyond ones eternal destination. We see this truth in Paul’s ethics. Pauline ethics might be summed up this way: because Christ humbled himself and died on a cross, so should you be humble and willfully offer up your life for the good of others (Phil 2:1-11). Our faith manifests itself in ways that benefit others, if it is a real faith. You must repress your hope in God to keep it private. I doubt you disagree with this.
So why are politics off limits? Why is it right for us to sit back and allow harmful policies be legislated? Why shouldn’t we expose candidates that seek to preserve the right to kill babies? Why do we think we have to let atheists run our country? Are Christian teachings not good? Do they not promote human flourishing? Why do we think a Christian influence equals a theocracy? How have we become so simple minded about our civil responsibility? Pastors we have failed our people. If it is not our job to instruct the people of God on these things, whose job is it?
When politics are ignored in the pulpit the message to the world and the church is clear: Christianity is irrelevant. It tells the world that what we care about is our little club, and it tells those in the club not to worry about what goes on outside. Subsequently, many in the church find it impossible to find fulfillment in life because life itself is apparently not worth redeeming. This leads to self-indulgence and things like “church shopping.” We use the church as a commodity to meet our needs. We consume the church rather than be the church. And the body of Christ becomes a glutton for the work of others instead of being a vessel passing out the common grace of our Lord.
Even though we know that they only way to find life is to give it away, we have sold a product that says otherwise. Let us change that. We understand that we are to seek the good of others. We understand that Christ did not redeem us for irrelevance, but to be agents of renewal. Therefore, let us turn our attention again to society and utilize all the tools at our disposal. As we eagerly await the Kingdom to come, let us not neglect the land we have be given. Let us be political.
Michael C. Sherrard is a pastor, the director of Ratio Christi College Prep, and the author of Relational Apologetics. Booking info and such can be found at michaelcsherrard.com.