You’re the pastor of a church. Speak out or not on these cultural hot potatoes?

Man, who made me your judge?  Take heed and beware of covetousness.  A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of things he possesses.”  –Our Lord, when asked to settle an issue dividing a family  (Luke 12)

The issue dividing our families today is the “take the knee during the National Anthem.”   The NFL is ground zero for this firestorm.  No one seems neutral, and some on each end of the spectrum are going ballistic.

Listen to the pros and cons.  Does kneeling during the National Anthem dishonor the flag and insult everyone who fought for this country? Don’t those millionaire football players know they’re driving away the people who are paying their exorbitant salaries?

Stuff like that.  It’s burdensome,wearisome, and then some.

Symbols are everything to some people.

–They’re taking down the Confederate monuments and a lot of people are upset.  No matter that Pierre Gustav Toutant Beauregard was not a particularly great general, his statue at the entrance to New Orleans’ City Park was gorgeous and dramatic and iconic, and represented a lot of stuff to some of our citizens.  The statue of General Robert E. Lee on Lee Circle got the same treatment, even though he was a man of great character.  Doesn’t matter.  He was on the wrong side of that issue and that war. The politicians made the call and the courts upheld their right to do so.

–Ole Miss had to take the Confederate Colonel away as their symbol (a few years back, as I recall).  And to stop calling themselves Rebels.  Too evocative of the Civil War.  Plus, Ole Miss has a ton of students and alum whose relatives were slaves in the Old South and for whom those symbols are painful beyond words.

–There’s the matter of the Confederate flag. South Carolina and a lot of my relatives used to love it.  It occupies a corner of the Mississippi flag, but no doubt its days are numbered.

–And what about those football players refusing to stand for the National Anthem, but kneeling?  A friend said to me a few minutes ago, “The players in London stood for the British anthem, but not for ours.”  He found it immensely offensive, as did a lot of other people.  I didn’t see it.

–Every community will have its cultural issues that divide and threaten to engulf the neighborhood spirit that has for so long defined our small towns.

So, the question before the pastor is whether to speak out and take a stand.  Would doing so be courageous or divisive?  Would remaining silent be cowardly or wisdom?

Lord, give your servants more wisdom and self-control than they’ve ever had before.  They’re going to need it.

Your word says, “If anyone lack wisdom, let him ask of God who gives to each one generously…” (James 1:5).

Know this, beloved pastor of a Christ-honoring, Bible-believing church….

–After this issue, there will be more.  There will in fact be no end of the cultural things that upset some and divide all.  So, don’t deceive yourself into thinking if you address this one issue, that will settle the matter.

–A pastor who ponders whether to speak out on a controversial issue has to decide a) if there is a great principle involved, b) if Scripture speaks to the matter, and b) if his addressing it will be worth the trouble it creates.  This is why we preachers speak out on abortion.  The principle is life or death, Scripture says all life is from God and is thus holy, and yes, it’s worth taking a stand for.

–You should be fully aware going in that many people are not going to be rational or reasonable.  Expect them to be able and sit down coolly and discuss these matters and you will be disappointed at least and be crucified at most.  Do not be naïve, pastor.

–If you feel led to take a public stand, I suggest you call your mentors for counsel.  Don’t do this without sound advice from two or three or four godly and mature persons who are veterans in the Lord’s work.  You will still decide for yourself how God is leading, but you need their viewpoints.

–Ask yourself whether this matter is worth jeopardizing your ministry in this church and losing your influence with those who disagree.

–Personally, I’d be asking myself this: Would I rather lead a 9-year-old kid to faith in Christ and baptize him next Sunday or to be championed as a courageous prophet for speaking out on a divisive issue?  Your answer will tell a lot.

–If after considering all the angles, reading up on all the issues, hearing all the advice, and spending sufficient time in prayer, you do take a stand, pack your bags.  There is every chance you will pay the ultimate price for standing up on that issue.  And if it happens, do not gripe or complain or place blame.  You knew going in that some are irrational and the cost could be high.

“He leadeth me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.”

There are so many reasons to pray for pastors.

So very many.

 

 

 

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