Ever been in a conversation that left you scratching your head? Of course you have. One day a lady came by my office for a serious talk. She asked, "Why do you talk about politics and voting so much?" I asked, in response, "Who did you vote for in the last presidential election?" She said, "Barack Obama.". I said, "That's why I talk about politics and voting so much". She said, "You're supposed to preach the Bible and that's not in the Bible. Give us a break."
Oops. Already in the first paragraph I've violated one of the most taboo topics among preachers. It's that heavy chalk line around the pulpit marked "No political comment", or any number of subjects that preachers typically avoid. According to a study reported at www.churchleaders.com there's a top ten list of them---politics, homosexuality, abortion, same-sex marriage, war, women's roles in church and home, the doctrine of election, hell, and money---all the breaking news items on front pages and film at 11:00 these days.
The Barna Group surveyed pastors about the themes of their preaching and teaching ministries. Ninety percent of them (90%) believe the Bible has answers for every human life issue. However, only ten percent (10%) are willing to preach on the more controversial cultural topics on the list. According to the Barna study and others the main reason for skipping over them is a fear of declining offerings or popularity with the congregation. One responder said that if money was the reason, these preachers aren't leading their sheep, but are fleecing them. Ouch!
We can debate this until Jesus returns, but there is a serious, visible disconnect these days between the teachings of Scripture and just plain every day living. As a result a majority of believers are cruising through life without a clue about what is happening around them or the significance of their voice and influence in the public square. It's a shame so many church people today shrug when the moral indicators slap them in the face. Many of us believe that Jefferson, Baltimore, Charleston, and Washington have little impact on our lives. And, the attitude is that if it's not abut me, it doesn't matter. In a letter to the editor in the Charleston Post and Courier yesterday a lady said that the SCOTUS decision on marriage had little to do with her heterosexual marriage. That's what I'm talking about.
A couple of thoughts:
1. The first level of being informed is to simply pay attention. We experience the
daily benefit of occupying plant earth in the information age. What is happening
in the world is available at a click, either in on-line access or the television. If God
is working in all things (see John 5:17) then everything that happens is notable.
So, pay attention in step one.
2. Search it out. Every human has a responsibility to know what is happening
around them. Even Zacchaeus climbed up a sycamore tree to see what the
hubbub was about. Often this is just another pay attention asterisk. It also
involves being very intentional about exposure to the news.
check out these sites for up-to-date news and commentary----
www.foxnews.com Fox News
www.wsj.com Wall Street Journal
www.washingtontimes.com Washington Times newspaper
www.erlc.com SBC Ethics/Religious Liberty Commission
www.focusonthefamily.com Focus on the Family
www.alliancedefending freedom.org Alliance Defending Freedom
There are many others. These are just a few of my preferences.
2. Be wise in gathering information. If believers can't get the drift of world
events at church, they will either remain uninformed or be informed at the
secular outlets of main-stream media.
3. Spiritual leaders must inform. Their assignment is to move people to God's
agenda (see Spiritual Leadership by Henry and Richard Blackaby, B and H Books,
Nashville, 2001). This means pastors, teachers, professors, parents, and believers
in every walk of life must be prepared to speak to life issues. They must know
what they are, and what the Bible says about them.
4. Encourage and pray for your leaders. Ask your pastors and church leaders to
teach the whole counsel of God and to activate the voice of God's people.
Ezekiel 33:1-1-6 is a great prophetic word in this regard.
5. Be prepared with your voice. 1 Peter 3:15 and other Scripture references affirm
our responsibility to verbalize our faith. Hey, you may never have to give an
apologia, but every one of us should be prepared to do so.
This weekend we're celebrating the signing of the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America. It is a good time to remember the vision of our founders and the principles that informed their founding vision. In a ten-year study undertaken at the University of Houston, researchers examined 15,000 documents from America's founding and determined that 34% of their quotations came from the Bible, the highest by far of any source (quoted from www.faithfacts.org). They dreamed of an informed and aware populace who embodied the principles of Scripture.
There's an interesting parallel in the Acts of the Apostles. The apostles were brought before the Jewish authorities for speaking the Good News so boldly. They were commanded not to speak any longer. Luke recorded it this way---
And when they had summoned them, they commanded them not to speak or teach
at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether
it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the
judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.”
It was a good lesson in paying attention and speaking. I'm praying to pay attention too. Or, be eaten alive.