We’re rounding off the first year of Trump in the White House. A bitter divide has unquestionably developed and many Christians have found themselves in middle of the mayhem. You’d be hard-pressed to find a single pastor who hasn’t been influenced, pressured, or scolded on both sides of the table. It’s been that way since Trump’s campaign began.
As a pastor observing the political climate that can saturate a church, it’s been a year of incredible growth, and challenges. I’ll never forget the Sunday that a congregant came right up to me and said, “Why doesn’t he [the teaching-pastor] man up and side with Trump from the pulpit? That Hillary was from the Devil! God’s man is in the White House.” His wife pleaded with him to let it go, but to no avail.
In another confrontation, a congregant raged, “Trump is train-wreck! Christians who voted for him are poorly mistaken.”
Few things can pacify political charged Christians. Only one thing has sustained us.
Outside of our local church, the airwaves rang out from each side while the world peered on from the bleachers. Like two heavyweights trying to land the knockout blow, back and forth the haymakers swung.
One pastor declared, “We are going to see another great spiritual awakening.” Another affirmed, “The Lord's hand is upon this man, even though the world does not realize it and cannot realize it due to their spiritual blindness.” Others weren’t so convinced. “How anyone sees Trump as the savior of the evangelicals is beyond me. Doesn’t have a Christian bone in his body,” sneered a doubter. “We’re all sinners… but c'mon… the evangelical right is choosing this guy to lead their ‘spiritual awakening?’”
In a sobering statement, a pastor told Christianity Today, “The election was fueled with anger and slander, and we’re culturally fatigued.”
He’s absolutely right, and there’s no end to the consternation in sight.
Regardless of your position on Trump’s campaign for change, and whether or not you believe America is better than it was, we’re in this together for at least another few years. Before you throw in the towel on finding common ground, there is something we can (and definitely should) agree on. That is, that the one thing hasn’t changed: a pastor’s calling to preach Christ.
In a year where optimistic enthusiasm and apocalyptic outcry have jousted for top headlines, pastors looking to give people hope need look no further than the Hope of the world. What people need the most is a renewed perspective that hinges on a kingdom that is not of this world. For the Christian, our King is not dependent on an election – He’s already won victory over the god of this world. Death could not hold Him, Satan couldn’t stop Him, and He’s given His people a Great Commission that transcends an oval office. The Prince of Peace can comfort those who are conflicted by the government. The comforting Redeemer can heal the broken-hearted. The Rock of Ages can calm the anxious soul.
Quite honestly, little attention and direct instruction are given in Scripture with regard to pastors and the topic of politics. But what is? Preaching Christ.
Where do Christians who change the world find their inspiration? Jesus.
Where do Christians who are anxious find their peace? Jesus.
Where do Christians who are fearful find their courage? Jesus.
So, what else do we need? Combine the greatest pre-game speech, and the most riveting political rally cry and they’d still fall astronomically short of a single word from Jesus.
Paul said it many different ways but his point was always the same. People need Christ, Christ, and more Christ! “Let men regard us as servants of Christ,” he declared to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 4:1). “Preach the word,” he stressed to young Timothy (2 Timothy 4:2). “For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified,” he said as he explained his own reliance on the Spirit to fulfill his calling (1 Corinthians 2:2).
It was Charles Spurgeon who humbly said, “I have a great need for Christ; I have a great Christ for my need.” Even the famed Prince of Preachers saw himself as a mere compass pointing to the True North. He must have lived that reality because, as the story goes, a man went to see one of the other well-known preachers of the day and after hearing him preach he was overheard saying, “What a preacher!” A short time later, this same man went to hear Spurgeon preach and afterward he exclaimed, “What a Savior!” Therein lies the ultimate achievement of every preacher who dawns the pulpit.
I don’t know what strategy your church has taken to bring perspective to a wild year, but there is a particular book that offers incredibly worth-while wisdom.
When the author of Hebrews penned a beautiful letter to his primarily Jewish audience at the time, the goal was crystal-clear; elevate and exalt Christ. No political agenda. No social initiative hiding behind spiritualized lingo. Just Jesus. In just the first few verses this is accomplished with precision, and pastors do well to take notice. Throughout the book of Hebrews, the author celebrates the changeless and powerful King! He was, is, and forever will be the Savior of this world. No matter how many heroes that humanity concocts, one Hero trumps them all. And no, it’s not the Donald.
Want to utilize a time-tested strategy to encourage people through the ups and downs of politics and vacillating cultural fads?
Remind them to turn their eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim. In the light of His glory and grace.
After a year of political wars, personal struggles, celebrating victories and mourning deep losses, most Christians can sometimes find themselves just holding on for dear life. Right there at the beginning of that letter to the Hebrews are eight Christ-centered truths that remind us all who is in control.
Here they are:
- Christ is the voice of God to us (Hebrews 1:1-2a)
- Christ is the Heir of all things (Hebrews 1:2b)
- Christ is the radiance of God’s glory (Hebrews 1:3a)
- Christ is the exact representation of God’s nature (Hebrews 1:3b)
- Christ is upholding all things (Hebrews 1:3c)
- Christ has made purification for sin (Hebrews 1:3d)
- Christ is seated at the Father’s right hand (Hebrews 1:3e)
- Christ is better than the angels (Hebrews 1:4)
Each one of those could be a sermon in and of itself. What if people were given those truths from the pulpit more often? What could happen if politics were kept in their proper place and the pulpit roared with righteous zeal for the risen Christ?
He’s coming back one day. Republicans, Democrats, and everyone in between will bow, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
Our job is to preach that message every chance we get and keep the main thing the main thing. Let’s make sure people are ready for their moment with Him.