LAKEVIEW MISSIONARY CHURCH
Weekly Update for March 30, 2022
GOSPEL FIRST AND POLITICS SECOND
“I have zero interest in what that pastor has to say,” said a caddie I worked with. It was a presidential election year and political dissension was at a climax. I was living in the Dallas area attending seminary and working at a golf course as a caddie.
A prominent pastor in Dallas had publicly stated who he thought should be elected as the next President of the United States. And that pastor’s stance was polarizing. His sermons were broadcast via many radio stations and on TV throughout the area, and he was well known as the “voice of Christians” for the Dallas area.
However, this pastor’s political stance had blocked the gospel from being received by my caddie friend. My caddie friend was an atheist and clarified that he was not going to listen to anything this pastor said. Because the pastor was a bad person? Because the pastor had misused money given to him and his church? Because the pastor had been unfaithful to his wife? No, because of the pastor’s political stance on who should be the next president, my caddie friend didn’t want to hear anything that pastor said.
The gospel should be the primary message we share with others. The apostle Paul wrote, “For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved” (Romans 10:10, NIV). When doing that “anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame. . . everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:11, 13, NIV). That is the primary task of church leaders and every Christian. We are supposed to know God and make Him known. Then Paul raises the questions, “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” (Romans 10:14, NIV). The gospel is supposed to be primary so people can be saved and not go to hell. If another message becomes primary, then unbelievers cannot “call on” God, “believe in him,” or “hear.” If the gospel is not the primary message, then people won’t come to a saving faith in Jesus.
The book of Acts tells the history of the first-century church. A reading through Acts sees how the gospel was the primary message proclaimed by each of the disciples in every city they went. Here are some examples.
Philip “traveled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns” (Acts 8:40). After traveling, Peter and John “returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many Samaritan villages” (Acts 8:25). Paul and Barnabas went Lystra and Derbe and “continued to preach the gospel” (Acts 14:7, cf. 21). At the Jerusalem Council, Peter told the people gathered there that “God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe” (Acts 15:7). Then later, Luke—the author of Acts—wrote that “We got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them” (Acts 16:10).
The gospel was the message of these men traveling to new places. It wasn’t about tax reform, who to vote for, or how to maintain the politics in their region or country. The focus was on presenting the gospel so people could hear about God and believe in Him.
If things inhibit people from hearing the gospel, then those people won’t hear the gospel. Those inhibitors must be removed. The gospel must be primary, and anything that prevents it from having its rightful place must be removed.
I am afraid my caddie friend might not hear the gospel. The political focus of one pastor pushed him further away from a potentially inquiring faith of Jesus Christ. In the future, hopefully, a strong Christian can befriend him and help him draw close to God. But for now, the Gospel is not something he is interested in hearing, at least from that Dallas pastor.