I was still in my twenties pastoring my second church in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, when a church member met with me to set me straight:
“Preacher, you need to know that whenever you start preaching against cigarettes, you’ve stopped preaching, and you’ve started meddling.”
What he was saying is that he could sometimes tolerate me preaching parts of the gospel that made him a little uncomfortable. On many things, he could quietly agree to disagree. However, he would have big problems with me if I started preaching things that went against the very heart of who he was: a proud smoker from the city that RJ Reynolds built.
I respected where he was coming from. And although I did not believe the man should be smoking cigarettes, I never preached a sermon in that city against tobacco. In other words, in his eyes I never went from “preaching to meddling.”
Because I believe in the separation of Church and State, I have adopted a similar understanding when it comes to preaching and politics.
What I am saying is that I can sometimes tolerate politicians making policies that may make me a little uncomfortable. That’s just the nature politics. On many things, I can quietly agree to disagree.
But sometimes politicians stop politicking and start meddling. Sometimes the State enacts something that goes against the very heart of who I am: a pastor who has been called to preach the gospel that Jesus proclaimed.
And when they start meddling, we need to start preaching.
For further reading regarding preaching and politics, please see this article by Rev. Dr. Molly Marshall, my seminary theology professor who continues to inspire me today: What Does Preaching Look Like after the Inauguration