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Today's column is a heart-felt appeal to my pastor-brethren. If there was
ever a time when God's men in America needed to stand independently and
courageously for that which is right, it is now. And if we, the pastors and
preachers of America, will not stand for what is right, how can anyone else
be expected to stand? Specifically, are we God's men, or have we become the lackeys for powerful politicians? I fear that in far too many instances, it
is the latter.
Throughout history, God's true champions were stalwart, independent men. Men who could not be bought or bribed. Men who chose the life of unpopularity or even prison rather than kowtowing to kings or potentates. Men such as the Old Testament prophet Micaiah.
We all remember the story of Micaiah, don't we? Micaiah was the prophet who warned Ahab and Jehoshaphat regarding their imminent battle at Ramoth-gilead recorded for us in II Chronicles chapter 18.
What fascinates me about the story of Micaiah is that all the rest of the
prophets, some 400 of them, said only what the king wanted to hear. Not one of them was willing to speak the truth. Not one of them was willing to defy the king's wishes. Not one of them was willing to put their allegiance to
God above their friendship with the king. Then Micaiah entered the story.
Micaiah stood boldly before the king of Judah and the king of Israel and
courageously told the truth. He did not try to curry favor with the king. He
did not try to ingratiate himself with the king. He courageously spoke truth
to power. And, as one might expect, he was not rewarded for it-at least not
in this life. In spite of this, Micaiah stood as a true champion of God. A
man among men. God's man.
Where are the Micaiahs today? Especially among our national Christian
leaders, where is Micaiah?
It seems that many of our pastors and Christian leaders today are far more
interested in not offending the powers that be than they are in speaking the
uncompromising message of truth. This is especially true if the political
power has an "R" behind his name. It doesn't seem to matter to a tinker's
dam whether that man promotes policies that expand abortion-on-demand, that further legitimize aberrant sexual lifestyles, that leave our borders open
to terrorists, that eviscerate constitutional freedoms, or that explode the
size and scope of the federal government. Because he is a Republican, he is
"good" and must not be opposed.
In such a case, have we preachers not become glorified politicians? Have we
not become the servants of men?
In the story of Micaiah, it was both the "good" king Jehoshophat and the
"evil" king Ahab that had made the decision to disobey God and imperil the
lives of their countrymen. Both the "good" king and the "evil" king needed
to hear the truth. And while they heard it not from the rest of Israel's
prophets, they heard the truth from Micaiah. Both men heard the truth from
Whether a president, senator, or congressman is a "good" Republican or an
"evil" Democrat, they need to hear a consistent message of truth from God's
preachers. Our political leaders (of both parties) need to be held
accountable for their misdeeds, their erroneous policies, and their
unconstitutional decisions. If today's pastors would be as concerned about
speaking the truth as they are about who is being elected and about not
offending Republicans, our country would be much better off. Much better.
I dare say that if Al Gore or John Kerry had been elected President, they
would not have been allowed to do half of what George W. Bush has gotten
away with, because pastors and Christian leaders of every stripe would have
shouted their disapproval from the housetops. But because Mr. Bush has an
"R" behind his name, those same pastors and Christian leaders sit fat and
happy-and silent. The result: George W. Bush has inflicted more lasting harm on America than Bill Clinton ever thought about inflicting. That's not an
affront to George W. Bush, nor is it praise for Bill Clinton. It's an
indictment upon America's pulpits.
There is another element to this discussion, one that almost everyone seems to have forgotten. When the Jewish leaders brought accusation against Jesus to Pilate, do you remember what their charge was? It was, "If you don't crucify Jesus, you are not a friend to Caesar, because Jesus is not a friend to Caesar." The fear that Pilate might be regarded as unfriendly to Caesar and that Jesus was already regarded as not being a friend to Caesar caused Pilate to consent to Jesus' death.
Forget that Caesar had enslaved the Jewish people. Forget that he was their
oppressor. Forget that they labored under the heavy hand of Caesar's tyranny and taxation. They, the Jewish leaders, had formed a friendly alliance with Caesar, an alliance from which they personally greatly benefited. Therefore, they would let no one, not even their Messiah and Savior, jeopardize their friendship with Caesar.
It grieves me deeply to report that, in my estimation, this desire to be
Caesar's friend has eclipsed the willingness of many of today's pastors and
preachers to speak the truth. More than that, they even seem willing to join
those forces that seek to silence anyone who dares challenge Caesar. Once
again, especially if Caesar has an "R" behind his name.
We preachers must remain independent from the fetters of the desire for
popularity or political approval. We must not give in to the temptation to
become glorified politicians. As preachers, we have but one task: preach the
truth, stand for the truth, and defend the truth. Whether the truth hurts
Democrats or Republicans should not concern us. Whether we are considered "friends" to presidents should not matter. Who knows how Israel's history might have been changed for the better if those 400 prophets had followed Micaiah's example and not groveled before Ahab. Who knows how Germany's history might have been changed for the better if that nation's 14,000 pastors had followed the example of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and not groveled before Hitler.
By the same token, America's future will be largely determined by which
example today's pastors and preachers decide to follow. Dear brother pastor:
dare to be a Micaiah.