As Pastor of this church, one of my duties is to act as a “Watchman on the Wall” (Ezekiel 3, 33) warning the church of impending danger. Our nation’s (and our church’s) political climate thickens toward the upcoming election, and I must warn of a danger I see growing within our church body. We are divided. Paul writes to the church in Corinth:
“I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided?” (1 Corinthians 1:10-13)
Christ is of course, not divided. We are a body of believers – all from very diverse backgrounds, all with diverse opinions and preferences. But the beauty in the Fellowship that is the Church of Jesus is that from all of this diversity comes unification: unification around Christ. When we seek to be unified around anything else, we invite our preferences and backgrounds into a divisive, downwardly spiraling cliquish social club where those who do not look like me or think like me are not welcome. We are not a social club. We are a family. And in every family, there are disagreements. But the blood of Jesus is an inextinguishable flame which burns vibrantly throughout all of our souls, bonding together that which otherwise is immiscible. Should we seek unification in such a fleeting spark as politics, one of two things will happen: (A) There will be many sparks, but no fire. Or (B) there will be no spark and no fire, only pseudo-illuminative cheap substitutions of That which we desperately need.
That being said, I urge all ABCers to prayerfully adopt these principles/guidelines as we proceed through the upcoming election and where applicable, even after it…
1. From a leadership position or when speaking officially in front of any group within the church, neither endorsement of a specific candidate/party nor communicated dissent of a specific candidate/party is beneficial (or even legal). A good website to visit explaining the potential legal issues involved with 501c3 tax-exempt status is: http://www.nonprofitrisk.org. There you will read this paragraph under “POLITICAL ACTIVITY:”
All section 501(c)(3) organizations are prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate running for public office. The prohibition applies to all campaigns (federal, state and local level). “Political campaign intervention includes any and all activities that favor or oppose one or more candidates for public office,” said Crom, who speaks to non-profit organizations on a regular basis about tax-compliance issues. “The prohibition extends beyond candidate endorsements.”
We must speak to biblical issues of morality and justice, and no government entity or benefit loss can threaten us from that responsibility. However, as Paul wrote to the Corinthians, it is spiritually damaging for a church to unite around anything or anyone besides Christ Jesus. Legally, when a Pastor, Staff Member, Sunday School Teacher, Officer of the Church, or even a someone who is perceived by the public to be a leader in the church endorses or demeans a candidate or political party specifically (while acting inside that leadership capacity), it threatens the loss of our tax-exempt status. Biblically, when the same is done, it confuses our purpose and causes us to lose sight of our goal: reaching people for Jesus and building believers in Christ.
2. There are Christian Republicans. There are Christian Democrats. And there are Christian Independents. Let us not confuse political party affiliation with salvation. The phrase, “I don’t see how anyone can be a __________ (fill in desired political party affiliation here) and still be a Christian,” should never be uttered from our mouths. God judges the desires and motivations of the heart. Heaven will not be filled with only Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, Independents, etc. The only label we must be concerned with as a Church is the label “Christian.” That is how we should identify ourselves to our brothers and sisters, as well as to the public. I’m not naive, I lean toward a certain political persuasion myself… but I choose not to be identified as that. I would rather be identified as being a Christian. Your fellow church members are bought with the same blood of the Lamb that you are. Do not diminish the scope of Jesus’ redeeming power by requiring any other identity for salvation other than… “HIS.”
3. In small groups at the church, or in homes or the public while gathered for church purposes (Bible Studies, SS Fellowships, etc.), do not endorse or demean any political party or candidate. Speak about the issues, the economy in general, and what the Bible has to say about those things – yes… but don’t bring party names or candidate names (or specific identifiers) into those conversations. If our purpose is Bible study, then let’s study the Bible. If it is inreach or outreach fellowship, then let’s unite around Christ and not something less significant.
4. Even when gathered unofficially as friends or brothers and sisters, don’t assume anything. Your political persuasion may not be the same as the ones with whom you are gathering. Rarely has the conversation come up and everyone is satisfied with its outcome, those who opposed your persuasion are now for it, and all the world’s political problems are solved.
5. Keep #1… #1. As a church and as individual believers, we have to recognize that a political party or a specific candidate will NOT fix our country’s spiritual problems. The reason we are headed the direction we are headed is not the fault of the individuals elected. It is because the people’s hearts are turned away from God. We are not loving God’s commandments and seeking God’s holiness. If this country is to turn around from its moral impurity and its unprecedented flaunting of sin, it will be because the church of God started reaching people for Jesus and teaching them His character and expectations. NOT because the “right person” was elected to public office.
Shame is ours when we depend on the government to do the church’s job.
Shame is ours when we expect an elected official to wipe away the effect of sin that is deeply rooted within our own hearts.
Shame is ours when we choose to divide over allegiance to anything or anyone instead of to unite around the Lord Jesus Christ.
Brothers and Sisters, let us learn self-control, Godly restraint, and unity in this area. The forces we battle are not flesh and blood, but are the rulers, powers, and principalities of this present world. If I were they, I would try desperately to get the Church of Jesus Christ – the only institution Divinely commissioned to carry across the generations the message of Satan’s ultimate defeat – to try and unite around anything besides Jesus’ blood and the gospel message. If Satan and his emissaries can accomplish this, they will have gained a great foothold in the Church.
I write these things because I sincerely love you, and because I honestly see a threat to the good fellowship we share.
- Please take heed and encourage one another (Heb. 10:25).
- Please purpose in your heart to seek God’s solution and not man’s (Ps. 22:28).
- Please vote your convictions and not a party line (Rom. 10:22-23).
- Please don’t place your hope in a governmental institution or elected official (1 Sam. 17:45).
- Please exercise restraint in conversing around this topic (Pro. 17:28).
And please… above all else… Love each other deeply and selflessly because love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8).
Your Pastor and Friend,