The following is a chapter from the book, "God Isn't In a Hurry" by Warren Wiersbe. I copy it here in response to yesterday's news about the pastors who endorsed a presidential candidate from their pulpits (it was a group effort among several churches.) These pastors may be facing legal consequences for their actions, and as a Christian, I say good. As you will read from this chapter that I have chosen, I am not your cliche evangelical Christian. The chapter has a lot of great advice for all of us, no matter what your beliefs, but keep in mind as you read it that his main audience are Bible believing Christians.
Take Your Stand- The Right Way
“There was a time when most evangelical Christians were satisfied with silence. When great issues were being discussed, the dedicated Christian watched and prayed and stayed out of the battle. For believers to be involved in politics or social issues meant that they had forsaken true Bible separation.
But now that day is over. Today, dedicated believers feel guilty if they fail to register their convictions about great moral and social issues. With the dawning of this new day, some new problems have emerged. If we do not solve these problems, our speaking out on issues will create more difficulties than did our guilty silence.
Perhaps the first problem involves information. Most of us are not experts in these fields. What we know about Bible translations, abortion, capital punishment, social welfare, and a host of other issues has been gathered second-hand. Our information is selective because most believers read only the literature that they agree with. This means that we have studied only one side of the issue, if we have studied even that. I am amazed at how many Christians consider themselves experts on complex issues simply because they have read a pamphlet or a magazine article.
This leads to the second problem- the danger of manipulation. A few writers and speakers can control the thinking of millions of people because their readers or listeners do not know any better. The word for this is propaganda. By using the techniques of propaganda (name-calling, half-truths, glittering generalities, and so on), clever writers or preachers can convince an audience that theirs is the only righteous cause. It is even possible to twist Scripture to defend their position.
Our third problem is making these issues tests of spirituality and fellowship. The enemy is out to divide God’s people, and he finds plenty of ammunition available wherever believers disagree about matters that have high emotional content. At a time in history when the church desperately needs to be united in its witness, sad to say, we are divided on marginal issues. Instead of devoting out time and money spreading the gospel, we are busy in other activities that neither strengthen the saints nor win the lost.
There is a fourth problem- speaking up on these issues in an immature manner. I have read some of the letters sent by evangelical Christians to people in places of leadership, and I have been embarrassed. To be sure, not all letters are embarrassing, because there are still Christians who know how to disagree with others without being disagreeable. But some of our public servants must have a biased opinion of evangelical Christians after reading their mail.
Having said all of this, I am not suggesting that the church retreat into silent obscurity and never raise its voice in either approval or protest. But I do have some suggestions to make that might, if followed, sharpen our witness to an unbelieving world. The next time you plan to write a letter to anyone in a place of leadership, keep these suggestions in mind.
Get the facts straight. In other words, don’t believe everything you hear or read. Be especially careful about signing petitions in the vestibule of the church. If you have ever played the party game ‘Gossip,’ then you know how the ‘facts’ can get garbled as they are ‘communicated’ from one person to another. In recent years, the Federal Commission was deluged with letters and petitions protesting a law that was not even being considered!
Beware of propaganda. Even well-meaning evangelicals can use name-calling or exaggeration in their zeal to defend truth and oppose lies. Never allow somebody to manipulate your thinking just to support a crusade. Take time to pray and consider the issues calmly and with the facts before you.
Speak the truth in love. If you feel you ought to register your convictions, then do it in such a way that your letter will make it easier, not harder, for the next Christian to witness to the recipient. Many people in public offices are convinced that evangelical Christians are ‘cranks’. (Some of the mail I have read has almost convinced me at times!) Practice the Golden Rule and write the kind of letter you would want to receive yourself.
Don’t get detoured. As the salt of the earth and the light of the world, we must make the principles of righteousness felt in our society. But our main task is not to protest corruption but to preach Christ. The heart of every problem is still the problem in the heart; and that problem can be solved only by the gospel. To devote your energy and time to some personal crusade while ignoring the Great Commission is to play right into the hands of the enemy.
I sometimes feel that the church today is like an adolescent who is trying out his newfound freedom of expression. In recent years, it has been popular to be a Christian, even a conservative born-again Christian. That popularity will not last forever, for the enemies of truth and righteousness will not stand by and do nothing. However, the time has come for us to mature and move out of that adolescent stage. Yes, we must make our convictions known; but let’s make sure they are true convictions and not just shallow opinions or secondhand prejudices. Let’s also be sure that we know what we are talking about, lest we embarrass the gospel by our zeal without knowledge.
Proverbs 18:13 might be a good text for all of us: ‘He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him.’”
PS- One last comment from me- I find it interesting that I heard that news story yesterday, got a bit mad about it, and then this morning- as part of my routine devotions- the next chapter I was to read was about this very subject. It really put my mind and heart at ease just to know there ARE sensible Christians out there! BTW, this book was published in 1994. It could have been today!