Evidently, Oct. 5 was declared Pulpit Freedom Sunday in order to spur a civil protest.
The idea was to encourage pastors to take sides politically from the pulpit, which would violate current laws restricting religious nonprofits from electioneering. In addition, this paper published a letter to the editor encouraging pastors to preach politics from their pulpits.
Silly me, I missed the whole thing! That Sunday, I preached a regular old sermon from the Bible about how to make it through discouraging times. Boy, am I out of touch.
Anyway, I’m sad to announce I won’t be endorsing a candidate in the upcoming governor’s race. Yes, I can sense your disappointment. You’re wondering, “How in the world are we all supposed to decide without knowing what Dave thinks?”
And just to be clear, we’re supposed to choose between the bald guy from Naples versus the white-haired guy. Right?
Seriously, I do vote. I have informed political opinions, and I do resent tactics used by groups like the American Civil Liberties Union to intimidate pastors. I didn’t give up my right to free speech when I joined the ministry. I indeed have the right to express an opinion, and I do so regularly on issues of morality. I have preached on the human rights of the unborn and the tragedy of abortion. (FYI, my email address is at the end of this article. Feel free to send the hate mail now).
Also, I will remind my congregation of the devastating impact of poverty. But I believe things won’t improve until we begin individually helping to change lives, rather than just voting for generic “change.” I did a whole sermon series recently on volunteering and making a difference in the world. As a result, many of our folks are now attending foster parenting classes, helping a battered women’s shelter, and going overseas with Doctors Without Borders, among other things.
So it’s not that I’m afraid to speak out. I’m simply not that interested in preaching politics. While I’ve seen the Gospel of Christ change lives, most politics is little more than talk. I’m so tired of hearing promises and good intentions. I’d rather cut out the middle man and find some folks who are ready to help in ways God commanded us.
Another problem with political preaching is when pastors support a candidate, it sends the message that only people of that party are welcomed in that church. My calling is not only to Republicans or Democrats — my flock contains people across the spectrum. While there are times when I would like to express my own views, I would rather use that influence to lead someone to Christ than convert them politically.
I believe introducing you to Jesus will do a lot more for you than introducing you to Mr. Crist or Mr. Scott. They do not quite have the powers of a Supreme Being … despite what their TV ads may claim.
Frankly, it’s sad how many Christians believe political reform is the key to bringing “spiritual revival” to our country. Why would God bless such idolatry? In 2 Chronicles 7:14, God never said “If the government” will turn back to me, I’ll heal your land. He said, “If my people…”!
Funny thing about that Chronicles passage is God isn’t calling on all the non-believers to repent. He specifically calls out “His people.” That’s because we are the reason this nation is really in trouble. God called us to be the “salt and light” to a dark world, working as agents of His change. That’s what’s truly missing — not political talk from pulpits, but the spiritual actions of God’s people.
This is the sermon I wish more pastors would preach to their congregations — “Get out!” Get out of the church building and do something. Stop hiding behind these walls and meet the needs of hurting people. And quit thinking all God wants you to do is flip a lever on election day.
That sermon, the one believers preach with their lives, is the one desperately needed. So let’s start preaching!