By John D. Pierce

This time of deeply divisive, partisan politics is especially challenging to church leaders trying to keep their folks together and focused on the greater priorities of faithful living.

At least that is true for those good pastors who have not succumbed to the power of politics and are unwilling to equate fear-based political ideologies — that fly in the face of everything revealed about God in Jesus Christ — with being “biblical” or “Christian.”

Thoughtful pastors tend to struggle with their dual roles of being priestly (pastoral) and prophetic (which is the part that can get them in trouble) — since even Bible-rooted calls to love, justice and equality can be interpreted as political, objectionable and easily rejected.

The tendency among many churchgoers is to expect religious justification from their pastor for whatever passionate political causes (no matter how much ignoring Jesus is required) that have been stirred up in them during the week via an overdose of media exposure.

That is, many pew-sitters (mostly men) expect the sermon to align with the message of some TV talking head or angry radio host they idolize rather than the other way around.

Recently, when spending time with some really good pastors, I came to a conclusion that might be helpful to others.

It is the clear delineation between what is deemed “biblical” or “political.”

Here’s the defining difference: “Biblical” means the pastor said something with which I agree; “political” means the pastor said something with which I disagree.

This understanding doesn’t eliminate the great pastoral challenge — but perhaps it helps in recognizing it for both the pastor on whom this unrealistic expectation is placed and, just maybe, a few of those who put it there.

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