Ask A Pastor
By Pastor Scott Osenbaugh,
The Healing Place (Nashville Assembly of God)
It has been said that in polite company, keep the conversation limited to the weather and one’s health. Want to start a situation? Bring up politics (almost as inflammatory as religion). The American public is daily awash in something political, and nearing the national elections as we are, the flood of political balderdash is nearing tsunami levels. It doesn’t matter the office, the candidate, the party — there are positions and platforms, and there are people who agree and people who range from simple disagreement to a vehement revulsion towards some candidate or issue.
In my younger days I did some political activism, of a sort, nothing earth shaking but some canvassing, some sign placement, and the ubiquitous bumper sticker. Mostly, though, the depth of my involvement in the often bonkers world of politics has been my mark on a ballot on election day. Knowing the passion often awakened from discussions about how Candidate “A” has a better position than Candidate “B” on Issue 1, I have done my best to avoid getting into such repartees, and all the more so since becoming a pastor. My calling is to proclaim Christ, not stump for my preferred candidate. So, my lawn stays free of small signs exhorting “vote for (whomever)” and my car bumper has no partisan stuff glaring at the driver behind me.
However, this is not to say that I have created an insular situation for myself that treats anything political like it had the Zika virus. While as a pastor I don’t get openly involved with campaigns for a certain person, I do get a little heated up on a couple of issues that loom large in America’s current landscape. They are issues that, in my theological opinion, run counter to the Word of God, and when something does try to contradict the Scriptures, my hackles get raised and I am ready to deal with the situation.
Therein lies the deepest a pastor ought to go, at least from where I sit. The calling to serve the Lord as a minister of the Gospel is a calling to be wholly devoted to promoting the Kingdom of heaven and helping folks find their way into the presence of God. No liberal or conservative or middle-of-the-road candidate will be able to feel the pain and the inner turmoil of seeing people destroy themselves with their lifestyle choices, when Jesus offers so much more. And neither will any human politico ever be able to actually end the suffering sin has brought on people who need a Savior. As I said, I do vote on election day, but my greatest responsibility as a pastor is to be God’s shepherd, God’s watchman, God’s worker, doing what is necessary to advance and to promote the Kingdom of God. The answer for the human condition is not in electing so-and-so or what’s-her-name — but in presenting Jesus Christ to a lost and dying world.