9 out of 10 times when a parishioner tells their pastor that the sermon was “too political” it usually means, “You made me feel uncomfortable listening to the things I disagree with.”
It was funny to see the people who’ve accused me of being too political over the years were the same folks praising the churches in AZ and Dallas for hosting a political rally. Let that sink in. Pushing for racial justice was too political but hosting a political rally was all good.
It’s a shame that caring for the “orphans, widows, and strangers” (read: most vulnerable within our society) can be often hijacked as being a political issue. Sure, a lot of the times we argue more about the “how” that should be done while agreeing that it’s something that’s should be done. But also, we spend more time arguing how to care for the poor than actually caring for the poor (in a manner of helping people keep their dignity in tact).
It’s a shame that decrying racism and encouraging folks to be actively anti-racist can be viewed as a “political agenda” as if racism is acceptable as long as it’s in small doses.
It’s a shame that pushing for justice is viewed as being political as if God only suggested that we should fight for justice. (Justice for who? Well, glad you asked: the orphan, the widow, and the stranger, usually. Never for those who are in power and affluence and wealth).
Granted, no one — no one — should stand from the pulpit and tell you WHO to vote for and HOW to vote; no one should endorse a candidate from the pulpit. That is too political. Urging your parishioners to vote is different from urging your parishioners to vote for someone/something in particular.
But I don’t know how one can avoid being “political” when it comes to following Jesus. Again not “political” in terms of “you should vote for so and so because they fit our agenda and POV” but in terms of fighting the status quo; caring for the vulnerable. Jesus didn’t die because he was a nice man; Jesus didn’t die solely because of his teaching.
Jesus died because he constantly challenged the Powers that Be. Sure, if he’d only were obedient to the people in charge, he wouldn’t have died. If he only followed orders; if he’d only complied… But he didn’t. He couldn’t.
He died because he was calling out (much like a prophet) how far the religious system strayed from God’s love and grace.
He died because he challenged the king and Caesar for claiming the kingdom of God.
We forget, quite often.
We forget that God was the God of the Hebrew slaves and not the Egyptian Empire. We forget because we often would align ourselves with the Empire than with the slaves.
We forget that for our ancestors, “Jesus is Lord” is the most loaded and political statement a citizen can make.
The closest modern equivalent I came across is “not my President” because saying “Jesus is Lord” is treason because Caesar is Lord. And by claiming “Jesus is Lord” is basically claiming Caesar is not — which would be punishable by death. Maybe even a crucifixion so that you can serve as a warning to by passers of your city that Caesar and only Caesar is lord.
If a preacher tells you how to vote through her sermon, then by all means, tell them that the sermon was too political.
If it’s something that you don’t agree with (because it may not even be political) just simply say something like, “You gave me something to think about” or “I don’t think I agree with everything you said, but I appreciated your sermon.”
And Preachers, we need more prophets and poets than we need entertainers and status quo keepers.
Be bold and courageous in offering the words that the Spirit has placed on your hearts.