SERMON: God is not a Republican…Or a Democrat
Introduction: Jeff has been the Pastor of The Voyage Church over the past 5 ½ years. Prior to this, he served for 3 years as a Youth Pastor at a United Methodist church in East Brunswick, New Jersey. His current ministry context is suburban, with a large mall right down the road. Those within the congregation are low to middle class with a good mix of newer Christians to those more mature in their faith. The average age within the congregation is also very diverse – a good mix of young and old. Jeff shares about his preaching journey: “The thing I’ve learned (continue to learn) is that every preacher should be themselves. It’s easy to emulate those you grew up under, or those who seem to be getting all of the love and attention. Nevertheless, it’s important not to get too caught up in that. Learning to be myself has been a tremendous help!”
Lenny: Jeff, I appreciate your willingness to talk about politics in the context of the sermon. Some might push-back and assert, “you should never talk about politics while preaching.” How would you respond to them?
Jeff: Right now, if Facebook is any indication, politics is on nearly everyone’s radar. I’ve listened to the Democrat in my congregation tell me why they support the current administration and I’ve also heard the voice of the Republican tell me why they vote the way they do. If God’s Word was silent on politics and the social issues that politics often seeks to solve, I suppose that preaching on it would be a stretch. However, God’s Word is filled with a care and concern for others, and the prophets of old were not silent about their disdain for what they saw as injustice and a lack of concern. Therefore, it’s important to preach on a topic like this one, especially in a season when politics is fresh on the minds of people.
Lenny: There are a number of hard topics upon which to preach and politics is one of them, especially while candidates are campaigning. Do you have any general principles, or rules, that guide you when preaching on hard topics?
Jeff: On the whole, I would say the only rule is that I turn to God’s Word for the answer as opposed to another person’s view on the topic. As a pastor who reads a lot, the temptation is to pick up another author’s views on a certain topic and then run with it. However, I’ve had to step back a time or two and make sure what I’m saying is clearly God’s Word.
Lenny: Your sermon, in my estimation, walked the tightrope between the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of people in the political sphere. Tell us more about how the local church can both trust in the sovereignty of God and engage responsibly in politics.
Jeff: A tightrope indeed! Within God’s sovereign plan, my belief is that we are active participants in bringing about his plan. In saying that, we have been called out time and time again by the prophets of old to do something about sin within us, evil around us and injustice that seems to prevail at times. Through our political involvement, then, we can have our say in electing and supporting those who have God’s best interests in mind. Once elected, however, I believe that it is our duty as the church to pray for our elected officials, to praise what they’re doing right but also be willing to call them out in those areas where we see them missing the mark. Generally, the church has spent far too much time on the “calling them out” part and not enough time supporting and praying for them.
Lenny: The prophets of the Old Testament really are political cynics, to an extent. Their preaching is understood best in the context of the politics of their day. In other words, while preachers today might be inclined to separate church and state, the prophets of the Old Testament did not. Do you think the preaching of Old Testament prophets is a model for preaching on politics today?
Jeff: Great question! Honestly, I haven’t thought through each of Scripture’s prophetic works in a political way, so I’ll say this. While it may not act as a complete model per say, what it does model is God’s sovereignty and the big picture that we so easily lose sight of. If God is in control, why such anger? Why such fear? Why such a divide politically?