I’ve received that email, that message, that call. And I’ve talked with other pastors and ministry leaders who are answering the same question.
Maybe you’ve sent your pastor an email asking why they posted what they did about the killing of George Floyd, the protests, the riots, injustice, racism, our President, and more. Nothing wrong with that at all. As long as we are all seeking to learn together, be gracious with one another, not accuse each other, import motives, and dismiss one another, let’s talk. Let’s learn. Let’s get convicted by the Holy Ghost, ruffled by the word of God, and led to green pastures with the Good Shepherd even as we cross through these valleys that reek of death.
Discipleship Not Damage Control
I don’t mind answering these questions. Some people may view these moments as having to do damage control. Not me. This is part of discipleship. For all of us.
I’ve addressed all of the topics mentioned above. Not always with the skill and precision I’d like; emotions are high. My keyboard and post button need new brake pads. Gavin Ortlund shared wise words on addressing these issues on social media.
How I Responded To The Question
A visitor of our church kindly emailed and asked if I could give more clarity to my posts and views.
Here’s what I said, edited and amplified:
Thank you for your kind and gracious email. I’m glad that you felt compelled and comfortable to reach out. I’ll try and clarify here with two points, first, on the unjust killing of George Floyd and the events surrounding it. Second, on the seemingly political nature of my posts.
On Posting About The Unjust Killing of George Floyd
The killing of George Floyd was unjust. Flat out. Christians must speak out against injustice. We must seek justice. Our Scriptures are filled with calls to do that.
Now, some interpret me calling for justice as speaking out against the police. I think that’s an illogical and false conclusion. I’m grateful for our police officers. My uncle is retired HPD and SWAT. Our church has four wonderful officers. I wrote another post thanking the great work of HPD during the protest in downtown Houston that drew 60,000 people.
Additionally, I don’t think all police officers are bad or racists—which I’ve been asked and accused of. I don’t approve of the riots and looting—which I’ve been asked and accused of. I never thought I’d be accused of approving such things by publicly lamenting the death of a man made in God’s image.
No one should conflate calling for justice with approving of chaos. Just because we call attention to one thing, it doesn’t mean we are condemning other things. We understand this on Mother’s Day.
Every Mother’s Day, husbands and children post on social media about how their special lady is the best mom in the world, the greatest wife in the world. No one writes back, “So, you think my mom is trash?” We understand what each post means. We get it. But when it comes to racism, injustice, Christian ethics, or saying the lives of black people matter, people assume and import the worst worlds of meaning. And that’s something to examine in our hearts.
Am I Being Political?
In one sense, I’m not striving to be political. Ever. I’m not “into politics” like many are. As a pastor and a writer, it is part of the task of discipleship to speak to things in the culture around us and address them from what I think is a biblical worldview, so we can learn how to follow the way of Jesus in these moments.
By making a statement on President Trump’s, in my opinion and others, photo op with the Bible, I was illustrating how this is what it means to take God’s name in vain. The third commandment on those famous tablets is about more than God’s name attached to a cuss word’s hip. It’s using God as a prop for purposes that God doesn’t approve. I’d go as far to say the way some Christians say no to people—let me pray about it—is a version of using God’s name in vain. “I would have done what you are asking, but, God said no.”
Now, by commenting on our President, I’m not telling people how to vote. I’m not telling people to bend their conscience. I’m not even making a statement that I’m against him or his policies. We must pray for him. He needs it, and we are commanded to bring his name up to our Father (1 Timothy 2:1–3).
I think it’s important for Christians to see that the Kingdom of God isn’t red or blue. The Kingdom of God transcends American politics. I’m concerned that many Christians accidentally want American politics to inform Kingdom ethics. That’s not Christianity. I’m worried that some evangelical Christians have been more discipled in these cultural moments by Hannity, Shapiro, Cuomo, and Matt Walsh than they have been discipled by Moses, Isaiah, Paul, and our Jewish Lord of all. Listen to the outlets of your choosing. Listen to the wisdom of God above all. If our daily routine involves watching hours of news, with only 2-10 minutes in the word of God, we will not learn how to think, feel, and act in the way of Jesus.
The news of a crucified man coming back from the dead is a type of political message. That’s how citizens of the Roman Empire heard it. “They are saying there is another king—Jesus” (Acts 17:7). These Roman citizens understand what Christians were claiming: Caesar, Rome, and the world must follow Jesus. It won’t be the other way around. Jesus is King. Jesus is Lord. Not Caesar, not Rome, not America, not the President, no one. His name really is above every name.
Over the last ten years of preaching and ministering at Redeemer, I have consistently called our church to honor and pray for President Obama and President Trump. I have also pointed out areas where these leaders (and others) are out of step with God’s word, and we should not pretend that it’s okay because we want their policies.
Throughout my preaching ministry, I’ve addressed things from racism, injustice, coronavirus, abortion, terrorism, sex-trafficking, the opioid crisis, immigration, the sanctity of marriage, LGBTQ +, etc.—all from God’s word. Here is my goal: What does our prophetic word—Genesis to Revelation—teach us how to think, feel, and respond to all we see in this world so we can walk uprightly with Jesus.
I hope that helps some, brother. Grateful for your email. And I’m glad that you reached out. I know email can always be a challenge, so if a phone call or coffee would be better, I’m sure we can make that happen in the next couple of weeks.
God be with you,