I recently read an article by Karl Vaters on the Christianity Today website that caught my attention. It’s titled: “My Silence is not Compliance: Why I don’t Preach Politics from the Pulpit.”
I’m not going to address the whole article. I agree with a good portion of what he writes. I also have a couple of small disagreements, but nothing too big actually.
A couple of quotes from the article really caught my attention in light of recent events in politics.
Just because I’m not responding to the current cultural/moral/political/social issue the way some people think I should, does not mean I’m ignoring it.
This is hugely important statement. We can spend all day, every day responding to latest issue. Other people have plenty of ways that they think everyone else should be responding. And unfortunately, it’s starting to appear that many people take on the belief that “if you aren’t lining up with my way of thinking and responding, then you must be against me.” If we actually play that out – then everyone will ultimately be your enemy because there are no two people in the world who agree on every single issue out there.
It reminds me of the “purity” tests that some people in politics have. Conservative and liberal political activists, the real hard core followers, all have purity tests. They want to know what a candidates supports and opposes and not only that, to what length the candidate is willing to go to push the agenda. Orthodoxy in thought becomes the most important thing. There can be no disagreement, only compliance. It is thought control in a civil setting.
When I read people posting these little purity tests on facebook, I can’t help but relate them to the thought control that these activists are promoting to determine who is “good” and who is “evil.”
This brings me to my second point and quote from the article:
Caring for individuals is fine, they said, but we’re not changing things unless we denounce it regularly from the pulpit.
Denouncing. Right now it’s a pretty popular idea to denounce Donald Trump for his statements. I get the reason – it’s a rational response. But I’m left wondering if we should take a different approach.
Here’s a psychological definition of narcissism:
extreme selfishness, with a grandiose view of one’s own talents and a craving for admiration, as characterizing a personality type.
As far as I’m concerned, Trump is a narcissist based on that definition. There’s an ideal way to deal with him – ignore him completely. Stop giving what he so desires – attention. What would happen if all the other candidates, all the media outlets, and the vast majority of the people in the country just agreed that he’s off his rocker and that they wouldn’t listen to what he has to say, wouldn’t cover what he said, wouldn’t respond to his latest ridiculousness (really just another attempt for his to say “look at me.”). That would take a great deal of restraint. Look, I know it’s a pipe dream, especially given the point I made above and what the article talks about.
Which brings me to the last great point of this article:
Jesus never allowed others to define what mattered. He made them come to him. He wasn’t distracted by the controversial issues of the day – and there were plenty. Instead, he took care of people.
Responding. We’re so busy responding to everything, denouncing this or that. When do we have time to actually do ministry or care or others? Responding and denouncing are reactive things – it means someone else is driving the message and agenda. You can’t lead if you are responding. You can’t care for people if you are responding. You can’t spread the Good News if you are responding.
Jesus didn’t allow others to define what mattered. If he were walking the earth today, he wouldn’t get caught up in a ridiculous question about whether he were a Republican or Democrat. He wouldn’t play by the rules of believing that those are the only options for the debate. He’d start talking about the Kingdom of God. Because that’s what is important.