Peace to you. For anyone who is in Christ, peace is yours. For those who are not in Christ, peace is available to you.
But a glance around at the wind and waves of culture would lead all hearts to another conclusion. If we listen, see, and feel with our emotions alone, cries of division will drown out the reality of the peace of Christ.
Why would I be moved to start a blog about immigration and the separation of children from their parents on our southern border with the word peace? I simply start this way because I know that next week it will be another subject. Next week someone will tell you one more way to divide. Next week, someone will tell you one more thing you must accept to be on the side of peace. Next week someone will tell you something else you must attach to the gospel of Jesus Christ in order to be okay with Jesus.
I confess that this blog is not going to tell you what to believe regarding immigration. And surprising to some, it is not even going to moralize about events on the southern border. I’m not going to declare how closed or open I personally believe the border should be. I refuse to explore this as one further attempt to discredit our President. I will not be addressing the reality that criminals in our country are separated from their children EVERY SINGLE day through CPS. I am not even going to get into the way that evangelical culture’s elevation of the family can reach near idolatrous proportions.
Instead I’m going to take some time to address a troubling blog post by Jon Pavlovitz entitled “If Your Church is Silent This Week – You May Want to Leave It”
You can read his post here.
Jon Pavlovitz is a former pastor turned blogger who purports to speak for the correct way that Jesus would view things. It seems to be his self-proclaimed goal to correct those who believe the Bible to be true and relevant for our lives. I have three observations about his blog that are only meant to serve as a caution about his presuppositions. His animosity toward the church is a frequent theme in our culture and comes from some misunderstandings about what a church is fundamentally meant to be.
1. Telling People What They Must Believe on This Subject of Immigration is Intentionally Divisive
Jon Pavlovitz speaks as though there must be only one opinion in the church on this entire, huge, complex subject. And that he of course as the right/correct viewpoint. As a pastor, I am so glad I stumbled across his blog so that I can now know what I am supposed to believe about this charged political subject. (*sarcasm*)
But I genuinely believe that this blog comes from a place of arrogance and division. The blog post has every intention of attempting to leverage church attendance against pastors to attempt to get them to speak out in agreement for Jon’s views. He would love to have church attendance decline among evangelical churches to bolster his own side of the equation. And that leads into the second observation.
2. The Tragedy at the Border is NOT His Deepest Issue with the Church
Jon has been writing against the evangelical church for years. He has certainly experienced a truly disgusting side of the church that is often rife with hypocrisy and a cold, heartless orthodoxy as he says in other blogs. But this has moved Jon to paint with such broad brushstrokes, that he has developed a false dichotomy that seems very entrenched in his writing. Namely, he cannot conceive of a church that is both loving toward those in need, AND theologically orthodox. And in this central point, I take a lesson from Jon Pavlovitz. We need to be a people who run to the one in need. We ought to experience heartbreak over suffering, and we must do what the Spirit reveals through the principles of scripture in being a part of the solution, even when we may disagree about what the solution truly is. There are followers of Christ who believe that an open border is the solution and there are people who believe that a closed border and secure border is the solution.
It is shameful when a church espouses only one viewpoint excluding all diversity of thought and opinion on political matters. (I say political recognizing that there are some political matters that crossover into moral matters as well)
3. The Pastor’s Role in the Pulpit Should Only Ever Be to Make Known the Word of God
Jon’s blog is so blindly arrogant that it quite literally proposes that he holds the job description of all pastor’s in his hands. He knows what I should and MUST say this Sunday. If I don’t say his magic phrase, then this absence should be a dog whistle to all those in the know, to leave my church and never come back. I must mention immigration from my pulpit this weekend, or you should leave my church.
But I think I’m going to keep preaching through the book of 1 Samuel. And I’m going to seek, by the power of the Holy Spirit through the Word of God to move people to grow in faith, community, and service. And that means that I am hopeful that as ReCAST draws closer to God, we will be more and more moved in our hearts to love the things that God loves and hate the things that God hates.
My goal is not to tell people what to believe about specific policy issues. My goal is to help my people think, feel, pray, parent, relate, work, love, and serve Biblically in a world that desperately needs to see a people with peace and love.
Jon Pavlovitz wants me to use my pulpit for a specific political agenda. I want to use my pulpit to lift God High, and make Him known as He has revealed Himself in His Word. And I believe that this will have the deepest impact on culture, as ReCAST hears the Word, believes the Word, and then goes out to live lives of love empowered and informed by the Word.