Many pastors today are conflicted. The recent Chick-fil-a Appreciation Day was the impetus behind two back to back tweets that popped up on my phone from a couple of my pastor friends. The first was this: “Preach Jesus. No one has ever been won by losing an argument on social morality.” You know this sentiment— just preach the Gospel, the Good News – Jesus didn’t throw stones at sinners and neither should we.
Five minutes later another pastor friend tweeted this: “A dog barks when his master is attacked. I would be a coward if I saw God’s truth attacked and yet remained silent. — John Calvin”
Over the years a number of my pastor friends have tried to remind me the Apostle Paul only preached Christ crucified. I remind them he also wrote Romans 1 and the rest of Romans which could be summed up righteousness, righteousness, righteousness.
They counter back with how taking stands on moral issues (in the political arena which is where they are debated and settled) will immediately alienate 50% of those we are called to reach. I counter with: if I was a pastor in the South in the 60’s I’d have marched across the bridge with my black brothers and sisters even if I alienated 99% of my white congregation.
During our back to back ’06/’08 statewide abortion battles here in South Dakota pastors on the sideline would chide me: just preach the Gospel. To that I toss back the question: is the Gospel only as deep and wide as the message of forgiveness because Jesus preached the Gospel of the Kingdom which was a far far broader message and standard?
Pastors today need courage, the courage of Bonhoeffer — even the courage of Bonhoeffer’s grandmother who marched past S.S. Guards to patronize a hated establishment marked with a yellow Star of David during the Berlin boycott of Jewish merchants. (By the way, I don’t like Christian boycotts either – how can we win those we boycott?)
Of course no one wants to be labeled a hater. Really, who cares what they call us – the label isn’t even remotely true or fair and it won’t stick. It’s not hate to love only what God loves. We are in danger of distancing ourselves from what God loves because we fear losing the favor of man often measured by lulls in attendance. Too common is the addiction to the adrenaline rush of increasing attendance stats. Too rare is the stamina to stand for righteousness.