The state is to be an agent of justice, to restrain evil by punishing the wrongdoer and to protect the good in society. When it does the reverse, it has no proper authority. It is then a usurped authority and as such it becomes lawless and is a tyranny. –Francis Schaeffer
What is our responsibility as Christian leaders to those we serve? It is to represent the mind and heart of God, and to help people see their world through His eyes speaking the truth boldly with love. Let’s look at the Lord’s command to Ezekiel:
At the end of seven days the word of the LORD came to me: Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to a wicked person, You will surely die, and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade them from their evil ways in order to save their life, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. But if you do warn the wicked person and they do not turn from their wickedness or from their evil ways, they will die for their sin; but you will have saved yourself. –Ezek. 3:16-19
It is clear that leaders are called to be watchmen for God. We are to interpret the signs of our time and clearly communicate the proper biblical response to our people. I am sure you would agree that we are living in unprecedented times. The darkness is getting darker and the light is getting brighter. Why do we have a problem?
I am convinced that our difficulty in communicating a clear and consistent biblical message stems from being conflicted. Trials in life do not make a person, they reveal them. Could our current challenges be revealing some issues we need to deal with? As I review the conflicted messaging coming from many of our pastors and leaders today, I am concerned. We seem to be communicating ideas that are 180 degrees apart. Mask up. No mask. Take the shot. Don’t take the shot. Close our church. Keep meeting. This could be a very long list but you get the idea.
Many pastors have been intimidated by our secular government to not get political. Our culture expands on this is by labeling everything as political. My challenge to this idea and a serious question we need to ask is, name one political issue that at its core is not also a moral or biblical one. I have never found one. Sadly, the result has caused many leaders to be intimidated and not willing to call out sin and darkness.
My friend, let me make this abundantly clear—we are to NEVER obey the state when it goes against the clear biblical mandates set out by our Lord. Consider what happened in Exodus when Pharaoh commanded the Hebrew women to kill their sons at birth. It is a clear picture that flies in the face of blindly obeying those in authority. Exodus 1:17 says, But the midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt had commanded them, but let the boys live.
If our mandate is so clear, then what is contributing to our conflicted messaging? I believe there are two major contributors, one is theological and the other political. What is our current environment revealing in both of these areas. Theologically, and not surprisingly, we are conflicted. The pure gospel is no longer simple but subject to the interpretation of the messenger. We live in a day where I can translate a Bible verse any way I want to suit my unique lifestyle or perspective.
This leads pastors and leaders to either ignore or mis-interpret passages in order not to offend and lose people. Our message comes through a human rather than a Biblical filter and is tainted by our human fears and assumptions. This not only leads to error and heresy but also to great confusion as our people compare messages that are coming from other pastors and leaders they listen to.
Politically, many pastors and leaders allow their political views to influence their message. The messenger’s pre-conceived notions or ideas, often driven by where they get their news, has a recognizable bent. Here is an example, the fact that vaccinations work and are safe is settled science! May I suggest that it is also settled science that you and I are nothing more than the accidental evolution of pond scum. How is that working for you?
This may be the most dangerous area for us to navigate as leaders. If we are not careful we will throw those leaders who do not agree with us under the bus which does not serve our people responsibly. This can result in serious damage to the Body of Christ and needs to stop. Rather than dogmatically stating our viewpoints, we should encourage our people to do their own research. There is nothing wrong with letting people know what you think and how you arrived at your conclusions, but we should never suggest it is settled unless it is clear biblically.
In my last TargetPoint I addressed Awareness…Attitude…Actions. In these areas I think we have work to do as Christians to respond to a world going the wrong direction. I believe what I am communicating here needs to be evaluated through these same lens. We need to be aware (watchmen), have the proper Godly attitude and act (communicate) in a way that reflects Jesus. Let me leave you with some ideas to consider:
- Before you prepare to communicate double down on your time in the Word and especially prayer—these are serious times and we cannot afford to miss God.
- Either turn off the news or broaden your sources of input.
- Encourage your listener to think and research for themselves and not just blindly follow you or anyone else.
- Never talk negatively about another pastor or leader unless what they are communicating is clearly heresy and you can show it biblically.
- No matter the sensitivity of a cultural issue be courageous and speak boldly the truth from the Word of God.
Hear me, you who know what is right, you people who have taken my instruction to heart: Do not fear the reproach of mere mortals or be terrified by their insults. For the moth will eat them up like a garment; the worm will devour them like wool. But my righteousness will last forever, my salvation through all generations. Awake, awake, arm of the LORD, clothe yourself with strength! Isa 51:7-9a