Did I catch your attention yet? One of the most common ways to try to silence many pastors is to throw this accusation at them – “You’re being too political…” I’ve heard this accusation myself. It usually comes out when I preach about God’s justice for people – the poor, the oppressed, racial justice, etc.
When I hear it, I do the unexpected – I like to engage the person laying out the accusation. I like to ask what they mean by it. Most of the time they don’t mean political, they mean partisan. As I’ve written many times before – the two terms are not the same.
Funny, isn’t it, that when we preach about God’s justice that for some people it sounds like it is linked to a partisan agenda. I think that’s sad honestly. God isn’t a Democrat or Republican. Here’s a news flash for some people – God isn’t even American.
Is God’s justice partisan? How does that even make sense? Is wanting people to be out of poverty a partisan issue? If so, and you’re opposed to that, then you might want to ask yourself what it is that you are actually supporting. And ask yourself why you are willingly taking a position in opposition to what God has been standing for since the beginning. Why are you right and God wrong?
I wonder what some people really want? If you think your pastor is being “too political” because they talk about complicated subjects and justice issues, then I have to wonder – what is faith for you? Is it transformative, or is it just as Zahnd described above – “A vague amorphous spirituality, a private pietism in service of the status quo.” Frankly, if that’s all faith is, then why bother? I’ve got better things to do with my life. That’s not Christianity – that Deism.
Tell me, where in Scripture did you get this idea? In what part of Jesus’ teaching did you get this from? From what prophet or prophetic message was this relayed to you? In what church teaching did this idea come down from? In all of what God is about, from the words and titles we have for God, did this idea seem congruent with faith being this way? Show me the goods.
Maybe you don’t want to hear about God’s justice. Fine. Be honest about that. Maybe you are quite alright with the status quo, because you are benefiting from it. Great. Be honest about that too. Please also realize that your attempts at silencing God’s word and putting road blocks up to God’s justice rolling out like a waterfall are actually being too partisan.
You may want to explore what it is that is at the core of who you are – the ideas and beliefs that are the foundation of your life and how you see the world. If that foundation is based on God, then you should easily be able to match those beliefs up with what Scripture says, with what the prophets have been proclaiming, with what Jesus teaches. If you can’t, then you either need to be honest and say that something else is your foundation, or you need to change (or be open to change).
Here’s the warning. This will change your life – your entire life. That will be scary. I’ve gone through this myself. I know what I’m talking about. And here’s the promise – it will be worth it. You’ll be free from all sorts of things that lay claim to you, from allegiances and loyalties that don’t actually care about you, but instead use you. You’ll encounter God in new ways. And you’ll want everyone to be transformed because transformation brings real life.
It comes down to this – is God transformative or not? If God is, then nothing is off limits, and we are not in charge of that transformation and change. We are recipients of it. If God is not transformative, then Scripture is full it, and so is Jesus. Why would you want to live in this lie?