I know a man very close to me who has never cared much for going to church. He has never been much of a singer, nor has he ever been moved in a major way by listening to music. He’s not offended by sermons, except on rare occasions; but he’s not excited by them either. He finds church-going to be somewhat of a chore.
He believes in God. He will not dispute what the Bible teaches. Nether does he lead a life full of sins that he would have to give up if he devoted more of his life to serving God. Nonetheless, to focus much of his thinking on God or much of his energy on serving God has never been a priority of his. It always seemed to me that he would never grow closer to God. I had lost hope.
Therefore, I was thrilled when I learned that this man started to attend a weekly men’s Bible study. He told me he did so, because he wanted to learn more about God.
After he attended the study, I asked him how it went. He responded, disappointed, “They spent most of the time talking about politics. All they could talk about was gay marriage and how they all hated Obama.” This man, however, was a Democrat. He had once been a Republican, but their relentless support for the interests of big industry at the expense of workers, consumers, and the environment turned him away.
This man returned to the study the next several weeks, and the conversation changed very little. He felt left out, that everyone was against him, and that he was wasting his time, because he did not attend the study to hear about politics. That he could do by turning on TV. So he stopped attending the study, and has not returned to a church or Bible study since.
This is what talking about politics in the church can do. It can, and does, drive people away from the church and away from God. Here’s what it doesn’t do: It doesn’t change peoples’ political stances, especially those of older adults. Thus, discussing politics in church isn’t worth it. It does little good and lots of harm. So make a promise to yourself that you will never be the one to bring up political issues in church. When you keep this promise, you will be the kind of peacemaker Jesus encouraged us to be.