February 2018 – Pastor’s Perspective
The past few decades have given us a particularly vicious brand of national politics. We have witnessed the impeachment of the President for sexual harassment, another accused of orchestrating a war based on false pretenses, and yet another being accused of being a foreign-born agent of Islam. Significant portions of the American people believed (or still believe) the charges that our previous leaders endured. Can we be surprised that our current President has been accused of being complicit in a Russian plot to steal the Presidency?
This heated atmosphere has created a political world in which partisans are expected to defend the behaviors of their leadership regardless of what they have done. The art of politics is now to simply deny, distract and defend every behavior no matter how heinous. On the flip side this polarizing behavior has also caused each side to think the absolute worst of the other, leading to mean-spirited and often illogical assertions of wrong doing being levelled against their opponents.
The ancient art of bipartisan cooperation has been lost in a sea of hatred, as differing opinions are now regularly interpreted as signs of racism, sexism, or personal evil. We see this each time a politician’s opposition to amnesty for illegal immigrants, tax cuts, or health care changes devolves into comparisons to Hitler, Stalin or Mao. Once you have established that a person is incarnated evil, then there is nothing good that come from them. This muck racking short hand has destroyed our ability to cross party lines and come to reasoned agreements on important national and local issues.
While the media has incited the crowd with maniacal glee, all too often the Church has played a negative role in this bipartisan insanity. The historic role of the Church in our Constitutional Republic was to be the prophetic voice of the nation. The Church was to speak truth to power and call the nation and its leadership to 1. compliance with God’s word and 2. repentance when we have fallen short of God’s expectations.
The Church was supposed to exist outside of the machinations of the political world. Our freedom from political entanglements was intended to keep us pure and prophetic. Prophets are only valuable if they serve the Lord God alone. Prophets cannot call a people to repentance if they are unwilling to recognize the sins that their friends regularly commit. Prophets cannot offer God’s grace if they believe that certain people are unworthy of God’s forgiveness.
False prophets speak for the party or the leader. Their true loyalties are with their partisan comrades. They seek a kingdom of this world and are desperate to create a congregation based on political or cultural agreements. When the Church allows false prophets to speak for us we forfeit our constitutional role, lose our credibility with the people, and deny our primary allegiance with our King: Jesus Christ.
False prophets are creatures of both the left and the right. They forgive their own while attacking their ideological enemies. They believe that winning is more important than righteousness. They reject their brothers and sisters because they believe that we made clean before God based on our ideological opinions. True prophets reject these heresies.
The Church needs to speak clearly to both parties and to all peoples. We need to upbraid and correct those who have broken God’s covenant law, regardless of the political calculus. We need to offer grace and love to those who might be our ideological or political adversaries, not because they are righteous, nor because we are, but because God’s love and grace for us demands it.
Our nation is in trouble. We can all agree on that. Our hope is in the Lord alone. Let us join hearts and voices and pray for each other. Let us learn how to put the interests of others above our own interests. Let us live in community with our families and our neighbors. Let us love as God has loved us. May God help us to forgive our adversaries and our enemies, offer grace and respect to each other, and most importantly affirm no person or party other than King Jesus as our Lord. This is the path to making America great in the eyes of God.