This is the second part of a series on the politics of church. Specifically, on the similarities (and necessary differences) between the American political system and the 21st century church. It sounds boring, but it's not...I promise. If you missed part one, I'd encourage you to read it before continuing...
Yesterday I suggested that elders in the church should act more like Supreme Court Justices than Senators. Yet, as I watch the goings on in Washington D.C. this week, I'm beginning to wonder.
Justices on the U.S. Supreme Court are supposed to be separated from politics. They're supposed to be accountable to no one but the law. They're supposed to be upholders of the Constitution, rather than of their own ideologies or preferences. But, as you may have noticed, there are few things in American politics that are more political than a Presidential appointment to the highest court in the land.
This week, in the midst of confirmation hearings for soon-to-be Justice Elena Kagan, two 5-4 decisions were handed out by the current Supreme Court on very controversial issues. The five "right-leaning" members on one side. The four "left-leaning" members on the other. And this happens a lot. Justices appointed by Republican presidents in one camp. Justices appointed by Democratic presidents in another.
Obviously, individuals are going to have varying interpretations of the law from time to time. I understand that. But consistent 5-4 votes, split along idealogical lines, can't be coincidence. It's obvious that upholding the Constitution often comes second to personal belief systems or political concerns. Which leads me to my second point in this series...
2. Elders, truly acting as a spiritual "Supreme Court" within the church, must be able to separate themselves from church politics, be accountable to no one but Christ, and be upholders of the Bible, rather than of their own ideologies or preferences.
Any thought or inclination that elders are supposed to push through plans or programs or policies is, yet again, putting the power in the wrong place. Church is not a democracy, and elders are not called to "do the will of the people" (or the pastor). As knowledgeable, wise, and God-fearing, they are called to pray for direction and then carry out that direction under the guidelines of the Bible.
There will be pressure from many sides to fire that guy or start this program. To play that song or show this video. There may even be members of the church staff who try to twist arms and break legs in order to get their way. But, regardless of who is applying pressure, and regardless of how much money they give to the church, we have to remember that it's not about them, it's about Him. It's not about politics, it's about prayer. It's not about status, it's about submission. It's not about style or size or sermon-topics, it's about staying true to God's plan for the church...regardless of who doesn't like it.
Next time: True spiritual leadership doesn't involve counting votes.