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Politics, the Church, and Abortion

As a Pastor I’m relatively reserved when it comes to making political statements, especially from the pulpit.

I have my reasons. To state it most concisely, I believe that the mission of the church is to make disciples through the proclamation of the gospel, the preaching and teaching of scripture, and the administration of the sacraments (Matthew 28:18-20). The church, as an institution, is to devote itself to the furtherance of the Kingdom of God. Pastors, accordingly, have this charge: “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” (2 Timothy 4:2, ESV) It is shame when Pastors loose sight of this task and exchange it for another (perhaps political activism). I’m a Pastor. I’m a minister (servant) of the gospel. Therefore I am concerned to give attention to, and place emphasis upon those things which coincide with my calling and the mission of the church.

It would be a mistake, however, to assume that I, as an individual, am unconcerned with politics. It would also be a mistake to assume that I, as a Pastor, am unconcerned with how you, as Members of Emmaus Christian Fellowship, live within the political realm.

As individual Christians you and I live in two Kingdoms simultaneously. We are at once citizens of the Kingdom of God and citizens of a kingdom of this earth. God is Lord of both. He has ordained both. He has given specific responsibility and authority to each to fulfill particular purposes. The Kingdom of God is eternal; the kingdoms of this earth will pass away at the consummation. As Christians we are to live in both of these spheres, giving proper respect to each (Romans 13), all to the glory of God, who is Lord over all.

The gospel informs, not only our life in relation to the Kingdom of God, but also our life in the common kingdom. My job as a Pastor is to preach and teach the scriptures. My hope and expectation is that you would then take the principles clearly taught in scripture and apply them to the great variety of political issues that arise in our day. In that sense I suppose everything I say from the pulpit is in fact political!

When I say that I am relatively reserved when it comes to making political statements, I have specific and authoritative statements in mind: “Vote for this candidate!”, “Vote against that proposition!”, “See things this way or that!”

Why am I am typically silent when it comes to speaking boldly in this way? In short, it is about protecting Christian liberty – it’s about honoring your freedom in Christ.

I would argue that most of the political issues we face are far from black and white – far from cut and dry. It is possible for Christians to agree on the gospel, and yet disagree on how to best apply the principles of the gospel to the political circumstances that are always before us.

The scriptures simply do not say, “thou shalt vote for proposition forty-whatever”, or “vote for Mr. So-and-so”. But they do provide us with principles – moral guidelines – a worldview. Christians are to prayerfully, carefully, and winsomely, apply the principles contained within scripture to the issues of our day. The way you vote, and the way that you engage politically, is a matter of Christian liberty.

That said, some of the issues of our day are more clear than others.

January 22nd marks the 42nd anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize abortion in this country.

The scriptures speak most clearly to this issue:

Genesis 1:27: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

Job 10:8–12: “Your hands fashioned and made me… You clothed me with skin and flesh, and knit me together with bones and sinews. You have granted me life and steadfast love, and your care has preserved my spirit.”

Psalm 139:13–16: “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”

Deuteronomy 5:17: “You shall not murder.”

Matthew 22:39: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Matthew 23:23: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.”

On January 24th, 2015 Christians from this community will come to stand against this great injustice. If you are so inclined, please come to Gibbel Park (Florida and Kirby) at 10am for a brief meting before participants carry a total of 3,000 crosses to Prince of Peace Lutheran Church (on Sanderson and Menlo) in remembrance of the 3,000 innocents who die by abortion each day in the United States. The crosses will then be displayed on the church property. RSVP here.

That Christians should view abortion as a great evil is clear from scripture. How Christians respond to this great injustice is a matter of Christian liberty. May I encourage you to pray, act, and vote with wisdom and discernment, and always in love.

In His Grace,

Pastor Joe

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(Colossians 1:28, ESV)

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