As I’ve been talking with many pastoral friends throughout this year, I’ve been surprised to find that we’re all generally on the same page when it comes to understanding how Jesus and the Bible should effect our political thinking and lives, even if we differ on political viewpoints. Yet, many pastors are rightfully terrified to preach what the Bible teaches on this subject for fear of what their congregations might do to them.
Will they still have a job if they speak against a president or against America? Will they be treated like the prophets of old? Will people leave their churches? Will they yell at them? Will they stop giving? Will they cause a church split? Will they be up all night thinking about what this or that person thinks of them? Will they fall into depression—again? Will they still be able to support their families? Will they be unable to continue employing their staff? Will they have anyone left to disciple? These are real questions and considerations of pastors as they try to figure out what to say.
I suspect the implosion of church and politics in 2020 partially came about because we pastors created a void in our churches on this topic. The general principle was, “Let everyone think whatever they want on this one—it’s too explosive otherwise.” But I think we have seen now just how important it is to talk about this in church—especially given the massive disconnect between pastors and congregants on this topic.
And I think something else happened that strengthened this problem in the church as well: As pastors who were afraid to enter the dialogue for fear of what might happen to them, pastors with socially accepted thoughts on politics continued to speak out loudly to the amens of others, making it appear as though all pastors and churches actually think the same thing. But I can speak from experience and from pastoral dialogue with others, that we do not.
So if you’re confused on the subject of the Bible and politics and genuinely want to understand it better, maybe try asking your pastor what they think. I don’t know where they’ll stand on everything, but most pastors I’ve encountered are more diverse in thinking than we’ve been stereotyped as.
In my mind I’ve been talking about Jesus and politics for probably 7 years now—but I’ve recently learned that as soon as you give a real world or explicit application of Jesus’ teaching rather than a metaphorical or even Biblical example, many can become instantly triggered and it becomes a whole different ball game. Staying strong when you’re completely drained of energy in overtime is never easy—and Trump and the rise of Trumpism (especially within the church) has had us all in overtime. (If my explicitness there suddenly became triggering, then you see my point.)
But how we act within our political actions and thinking is a matter of discipleship just as all other topics are. And I, for one, am done with the vacuum. I am not Jesus’ PR man, trying to put a spin on what he said so that Christians might accept His teaching—I am his follower. And so I must seek to subject myself to His teaching regardless of if I like it or not, or if others will like me or not for my conviction.