Your Pastor Is Not Your Political Activist

This excerpt from John Piper begins as the 43:44 mark of his most recent sermon.

Here's the transcript:

Don’t press the organization of the church or her pastors into political activism. Pray that the church and her ministers would feed the flock of God with the word of God centered on the gospel of Christ crucified and risen. Expect from your shepherds not that they would rally you behind political candidates or legislative initiatives, but they would point you over and over again to God and to his word, and to the cross.

Please try to understand this concluding point. When I warn you against politicizing me, or politicizing the institution called Bethlehem, or the church in general, I do so not to diminish her power but to increase it. The impact of the church for the glory of Christ and the good of the world does not increase when she shifts her priorities from the worship of God and the winning of souls and the nurturing of faith and raising up of new generations of disciples. It doesn't. It feels in the moment that it does. "Look at how many people showed up for the rally!" Or "Look how many signatures in that church they got!" Or "Look how that committee is functioning!" It feels powerful, but give it a generation. And little by little, that vaunted power bleeds away the very nature of the church and its power.

If the whole counsel of God is preached with power week in and week out, Christians who are citizens of heaven and citizens of this democratic order will be energized as they ought to speak and act for the common good. It's your job, not mine. Don't look to me to wave the flag for your vote. Or wave the flag for your candidate.

Let me read you from this week's WORLD magazine the editorial by Marvin Olasky. Many of you are familiar with WORLD. WORLD is a very political magazine, and it ought to be. I just love the Marvin Olasky and the team at WORLD. I'm glad they're doing what they're doing. This is what he said in the article, pleading with churches not to be politicized:

Wise pastors prompt [Christians] to form associations outside the church, and leave the church to its central task from which so many blessings flow. That pattern in the 18th and 19th centuries worked exceptionally well. New England pastors in colonial times preached and taught what the Bible said about liberty, and the Sons of Liberty — not a subset of any particular church — eventually sponsored a tea party in Boston harbor. Pastors through America during those centuries preached about biblical poverty-fighting, and in city after city Christians formed organizations such as (in New York) the Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor. (WORLD, June 16, 2012, 108)

My job is to feed the saints with such meals that they go out strengthened and robust and able to do the study and do the courage and do the action needed as salt and light in this world. And that will go away if you insist on the church and the ministry being the political leaders. It will and we can point to many where it has.

Jonathan Parnell (@jonathanparnell) is a writer and content strategist at Desiring God. He lives in the Twin Cities with his wife, Melissa, and their four children, and is the co-author of How to Stay Christian in Seminary .