A friend posted a question on Face Book: “What do you think? Should pastors, out of concern for the poor, preach against the immorality and poverty-creating policy of Obamacare?”
I felt compelled to respond. The question of if and when to preach politics from the pulpit is not new. Preachers of all political stripes have wrestled with this question for centuries, and all of us must eventually come to terms with how the Gospel impacts our politics and vice-versa. To this end, I responded to my friend as follows:
The challenge with preaching politics from the pulpit is that, often times, the left and the right are each driven by Biblical principles weighted differently. For example, the immigration debate cannot escape the tension between the rule of law and the dignity of all people created in the image of God. The welfare (Obama care?) debate exemplifies the tension between Christ-like mercy toward the truly needy and our responsibility to work if we want to eat (and take responsibility for our lives and families).
It is instructive that European Christians often lean to the political left, while American Evangelicals often lean to the political right. This suggests to me that perhaps the latter are more shaped by right-wing political philosophy, while the former are more shaped by left-wing political philosophy, as each emphasizes the commensurate Biblical principles that support their political context. I believe this tension is a good thing, and actually drives us back to Jesus, the Peacemaker, who is telling a story that cannot be fully expressed or contained in left-wing or right-wing political theory or practice. This is why I preach Jesus, embrace the tensions, and let the unified diversity of the Church reveal the glory of God in Christ who is Lord over all.
This is not a cop-out. On the contrary, this approach will keep us from the idolatry of whatever political context we boast in. Moreover, by pressing into the genuine tension between the Biblical principles driving our disparate political views, we are forced to hear one another more clearly, which will compel us to love each other more fully. Through this process, God will reveal our biases, make us aware of ALL that concerns Him, and compel us to find true unity, not only with those who agree with our politics, but with all who share our common life in Jesus Christ, who will one day abolish all political parties to rule as our risen King!