Why I don’t preach politicsPublished 10:32pm Monday, November 5, 2012
By Rev. Chris Surberphrase
Twentieth-century comedian Groucho Marx said, “Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.”
It’s not hard to find trouble on the landscape of national or international life and politics. Economies suffer. Corruption abounds. People struggle to afford healthcare in the developed world, and they struggle to survive in the underdeveloped world.
In light of such difficulty, I’m not surprised at the subtle and occasional direct pressure I feel from people to be more forthcoming with my political views from the pulpit.
Many pastors succumb to such pressure. Others even seek it out. In October a number of pastors around the country participated in protesting a largely ignored law disallowing political rhetoric from church pulpits. To my knowledge none were arrested or even confronted by authorities for protesting this obscure law.
In fact, a significant part of the outrage of many of these pastors is the fact that they are not confronted. Rather, they are ignored by civil authorities. Other pastors are careful with their words but plainly imply which candidate or party they believe tows God’s political agenda in the world.
I don’t preach politics. In fact, along with many pastors, I go rather far out of my way not to preach politics. While some political banterers call this social cowardice, here are two reasons why I believe it to be the better part of wisdom.
First, the Bible cuts both ways. No man or woman, partisan agency or entity or government body is immune from the sting of the Bible’s criticism.
There is no such thing as a political party or government that can free man from what enslaves him most. They can change laws but not the corruption of men’s hearts. The government can pour out more programs, but it will never make of a lazy man a man of enterprise.
The family is the first building block of society, not government. The Church is the cultivator of character, not government.
Second, the kingdom of God is not of this world. Unlike Emperor Constantine in the fourth century, I have no desire to conquer under the banner of the Cross.
When confronted by the Roman Procurator Pontius Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” (John 18:36 ESV)
The Gospel is an otherworldly message that applies to all men. Political parties, though they may be well intentioned, are a part of this world’s systems. The pulpit is a place to proclaim the Gospel of Christ the Savior, not the gospel of the most recent pseudo-messiah.
Vote for the best candidate. Vote for the candidate who most closely embodies your values. More importantly, have your values hammered out on the anvil of the Bible’s message of the Gospel of the eternal kingdom of Jesus Christ.