A Cool Drink for Hot Politics

2017 Has Been A Rough Year For Evangelicals

A few days ago I received the above article from a dear friend of mine. He was not trying to make a point by sending it but, rather, was expressing his own frustration with what's happening among professing evangelicals in our politically-charged nation. 

Here are a few of my thoughts...

  1. I agree that in many circles Christianity has been over-politicized. The unfortunate result of this is that some well-meaning believers have made foolish comments and are placing too much hope in things/people other than Jesus. They say and do things that do not align with the teachings and lifestyle of Christ. This truly saddens my heart as it makes Christianity seem highly political and irrelevant.
  2. I do not agree that this is the case for all of evangelicalism. To state such is equally foolish. It doesn't take long for one to look around the world and see how evangelicals have dynamically impacted the world in 2017. Churches have been planted. The Bible has been translated into new languages for the first time this year. The poor have been well cared for. Christians have been sent out and persecuted around the world. All under the authority of Jesus (as evangelicals). In fact, the church in Thailand, where I once was pastor, just reported over 100 conversions in the month of December alone. Wow! "Rough year for evangelicals"? Maybe inside the political bubble. But as a blanket statement? Absolutely not.
  3. We, as Christians, must guard our hearts and minds when it comes to the political hotness of this D.C. area. Our response must not be accusing, angry or cynical. Otherwise we become self-righteous in our own judgements and condemnation of others. Jesus warns us in Matthew 7:;2, "For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you." Let's make sure our own judgements, regardless of what others are saying and doing, are filled with grace and mercy.
  4. Our hopes and future are not in politics or political leaders - good or bad. Jesus tells us we are to "give to Caesar what is his and to God what is His" (amazing, because Caesar was not a Jew-friendly guy). We are also urged by the Apostle Paul (1 Timothy 2:1-2) that "prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people--for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way." This is not easy, especially when one does not agree with the leader's lifestyle, leadership and/or political positions. But those things take a back seat to our greater calling in Christ. Jesus honored Caesar. Peter instructed Christians to do the same under the Roman tyranny. And Paul urged Timothy (a Jew under political oppression) likewise.
  5. From the dawn of Christianity, some folks in the church have simply not gotten it. In Acts 20:30-31 Paul warns the Ephesian church, "From among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for 3 years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears."
  6. There is a real enemy, Satan, who wants to defame and discredit the name of Jesus Christ. He also hates the followers of Jesus and will go to any length to weaken their testimony and the witness of His Church. Our battle is against him alone, and not people (Ephesians 6:12). Our weapons, therefore, are not forged with the strong hand or the sharp tongue, but with the sword of the Spirit, God's Word, and prayer in the Spirit. Only these have the "divine power to destroy strongholds" (2 Corinthians 10:4).

In the midst of sharp division, where lines are drawn and the divide is widening, Christians do have a place. It's the same place where Aaron, the priest, stood when the wrath of God was being poured out on a grumbling and disobedient nation and thousands were dying. Numbers 16:47-48 tells us that Aaron ran and took incense from the altar and made atonement for the people, then he went and "stood between the dead and the living, and the plague stopped." Between. Church, we are to run to the altar, grab hold of the atonement (1 John 2:2) and stand in the neutral middle as peacemakers (2 Corinthians 5:18). This doesn't mean we can't have a political opinion because we certainly can. It does mean, however, that our opinion does not divide nor does it supersede our representation of Christ in this world. We are to be like the angel when asked by Joshua (5:13-14), 'Are you for us or them?' His response: "No. I am the commander of the army of the Lord. Now I have come." As I've heard so beautifully said before, Jesus didn't come to take sides... He came to take over. Sisters and brothers, the overflow of our lives in Christ should be a cool drink for a politically hot nation.  

Along The Way People

Let's face it, life is busy.  With important meetings and pressing deadlines, time becomes a precious commodity.  In an age when the quality of your day is measured by the productivity in it, we have little room for interruptions.  We move to and from appointments with expediency and tunnel-vision.

As a pastor, I enjoy time with other people... providing they're on my calendar.  My schedule helps me maximize daily appointments and ministry.  Anyone who needs me otherwise, well, should make an appointment.   It's stewardship of time, right?  After all, I have many spiritual things to do... like blog.  Even Sunday mornings, with all the final details, I sometimes find myself irritated by the interruptions of those who need to talk to their pastor (the audacity of some people - didn't I just talk to them last Sunday!).

But as I look into the Gospels I find a different model at work.  It seems much of Jesus' ministry happens between appointments - interruptions while he's in transit.  I'll share three examples:

  1. The rich young ruler - "As he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him..."
  2. The ten lepers - "On the way to Jerusalem... he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance..."
  3. Blind Bartimaeus - "As he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar..."

No doubt you could find more... many more.  In fact, it appears that a large portion of Jesus' great teachings, parables and miracles happen with people who've stopped him along the way - with no appointment!  As I watch Jesus it becomes painfully clear, these people weren't interruptions to his ministry, but interruptions for his ministry.  Which, I guess, doesn't make them interruptions at all.

This makes me wonder: what we so often see as "in the way" people, does Jesus see as "along the way" people?  Are we passing by people that Jesus would have stopped for.  Have our finely tuned schedules actually squeezed out some meaningful ministry?  If so, we need to re-model after Jesus to have a better "along the way" ministry.


  1. "Along the way" people are those God-appointed interactions that come to you outside your own scheduling - these interactions are unplanned and unexpected.  They are God-appointed - that is God brings them to you.  Note: these people came to Jesus, he didn't go looking for them.  Not every person is an "along the way" person.  Remember, Jesus healed all who came to him, but he did not heal every person he set eyes on.
  2. "Along the way" people will often come at inopportune times - people came to Jesus when he was "setting out on a journey", on his way somewhere, or just leaving.  Expect "along the way" people just as your about to go on vacation, sit down for dinner or run into the supermarket to quickly pick up a gallon of milk.
  3. "Along the way" people will often appear to be "needy" or "dirty" - notice the ten lepers... they stood at a distance.  People who came to Jesus often had a significant need which left them separated from general society.  Maybe for you it's the homeless man at the Metro stop, or the beggar at the intersection near work.  It may be that person you're embarrassed to be seen with.
  4. "Along the way" people will not always result in a high return - In the 3 examples above, Jesus saw different results.  For the rich young ruler, there was no return.  For the ten lepers, there was little return (only one).  For Bartemaeus, there was a large crowd and a high return.  But the return never stopped Jesus.  He ministered to people out of love for them, not love for the results.
  5. "Along the way" people need Jesus - Jesus didn't simply heal people.  He ministered to them.  He appealed to their faith.  "Along the way" people don't need a handout from you, and for heaven's sake they don't need a tract.  These folk need the touch of Jesus, a friend to minister to their faith (or lack there of) and need.  They need you.


  1. Pray for divine appointments -These are God-appointed interactions, so pray for them.  Prayer also helps set your eyes to see when those "along the way" people come.
  2. Schedule "along the way" time - Give yourself a little more time between appointments. Look around and turn off the tunnel-vision.  Slow down when you walk the hallways or sidewalks, and make eye-contact with people (not in a creepy way, please).
  3. Prioritize people - God loves people the most.  It's okay to love your job and being productive in what you do.  But keep your highest priority on people.  This is why God has given you the ministry of reconciliation.
  4. Avoid the "in the way" people - There are still "in the way" people.  In Mark 11 Jesus meets a few.  Ironically, it's because of the ministry he'd had with "along the way" people.  He politely excuses them without answering their questions.  People who only seek religious rhetoric or question your motives for serving others are "in the way" people.  The more time you give to explain yourself to "in the way" people, the less time you'll have to serve "along the way" people.

Father, help me to SEE people, SLOW DOWN for people, and SERVE people... just like Jesus.  Amen!