It is a political year. The presidential campaign is afoot, signs for politicians are every where, and everyone normally silent on issues has an opinion. As I have served and ministered at churches in the Bible belt, I have noticed a disturbing trend. Many Christians are stirred more by nationalism for our country than our passion for the kingship of Jesus. In fact many pastors have identified that congregations are moved by the “bring back a Christian America” agenda and have customized their preaching to give the people what they want to hear. There seems to be an over emphasis on politics and an underemphasis on evangelism. In fact, many of us get more excited about defending conservative values in our country than faithfully proclaiming the Gospel to our friends and coworkers.
In my experience, people learn very little from the content of what you are teaching, but learn a great deal from what you get excited about. In other words, if our greatest and highest passion is the Gospel, our people will begin to adopt that same passion. If our greatest concern and passion is an American theocracy, then our people will get passionate about the same thing.
As a result, in order to promote our dreams for Christian politics, we are tempted to create straw men of the opposition. We create charactertures of secular philosophy that we can easily topple over in order to prove the Christian faith superior. However, handling opposing views in this way leads to two opposite reactions among our people.
- An ignorant religious zeal develops that further entrenches minds in their ritualistic and tribal prison.
- It frustrates budding free thinkers and anti-authority individuals who desire an honest conversation with theology and culture. It isolates those who don’t fit the mold and creates enemies of faith and the church.
We must preach the truth boldly, but in such a way that engages those who think differently. We want to teach the truth in a way that does not drive them away because of our delivery. We want the truth of the Gospel to be controversial not the messenger. We want our church members to think carefully and thoughtfully about the issues, not blindly follow the beliefs of people around them. We are far too lazy thinkers. Indeed, many of us develop our beliefs on the opinions of the masses rather than carefully examining the evidence to discern the truth.
Teaching how terrible America is and how hopeless we are leads us to desperation. “The sky is falling” sermons give people a sense of hopelessness unless it is finished with the glorious eschatological reign of the good king, Jesus Christ. Bad governments and immoral times ought to stir a longing within our hearts for the second advent and the monarchy of Christ. Our highest loyalty is not to the United States of America, but to the Kingdom of God. Our hope is not in America being restored to a Christian nation, but in Christ’s second coming. Then all that is wrong with this world will be set right by the sovereign glorious hand of King Jesus.