With the Iowa Caucus coming up tomorrow, the Presidential Election season will effectively go from the pre-season, if you will, to the regular season. I thought I would write an extra post this week to address worship leading and politics.
Government and politics are a part of our world and a part of our life. Even Jesus recognized that government and politics play an inevitable part in this world, “…render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s”. While most Christians would probably agree with these two statements, anything beyond this point regarding the Christian life and United States of American politics is open for discussion.
The purpose of this article is to explore how worship leaders might address politics in worship. First, we are going to look at promoting unity. Scripture, as we will uncover, is very clear about the necessity of unity in the body of Christ, or the Church. Secondly, we are going to look at the Christian declaration “Jesus is Lord” and what that means for politics today.
As the psalmist declares, “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” (Psalm 133:1) As members of the body of Christ, a people in covenant with the living triune God, we are required to be in unity with one another. Paul makes this explicitly clear in his letter to the Church in Ephesus, “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:1-3)
Paul places great importance about living in “the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace”. In fact, this unity is a part of living a life worthy of our calling to Christ. This is an essential part of our witness to the world as the Church. The Spirit has even equipped us with different gifts for the attaining the unity of the faith (Ephesians 4:13).
Worship leaders, this is our first responsibility when dealing with polarizing politics. We must call our people towards unity. Practically, this may include avoiding comments, even humorous remarks, about politics. Be sure to avoid assumptions about your congregation. We may even take the time to proclaim the unity we have been called to. However, what do we call our people to unite around? Or better yet, Who do we call our people to unite around?
Jesus is Lord
We must call our congregations to unite around the person of Jesus. More specifically, I would encourage you to call your congregations to unite around Jesus as Lord. Let us turn to our brother and sisters of the early church to see how they handled the Christian faith and politics.
First, newcomers were questioned regarding their trades and professions. Trades and professions that either required an oath containing idolatrous commitments and working with idols in any way were forbidden in the church. (Stewart-Sykes, On the Apostolic Tradition, St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, Crestwood, NY, 2001) This was the spirit of the early church. Their allegiance was to Christ alone.
Granted, Caesar declared divine status and idols are physical representations of divine beings. While the politicians or those running for political status in the United States do not claim divinity, the principle of proclaiming our allegiance to Christ alone remains.
Secondly, as we see in the book of the Acts of the Apostles, the early Church quickly find themselves declaring Jesus as Lord of all (Acts 10:36, 11:20, 20:35). What at first seems like a simple claim, quickly finds great importance in historical context. The people of Rome were required to declare Caesar as Lord (remember, Caesar declared divine status). When Christians declared Jesus as Lord, they were undermining the whole Roman world. When we declare Jesus as Lord, we must understand the depth of our proclamation. We are proclaiming our allegiance to Christ alone and will not give any part of our allegiance to any other.
When we all gather during this time of political divide and uncertainty, let us, as worship leaders, be advocates for unity and declare that Jesus is Lord! Let us lead our people toward a sole allegiance to Jesus, the risen King of kings and Lord of Lords. This can take shape through our song selection, the nature of our prayers, and our approach towards communion.
As you all go about navigating this political season, keep your eyes on the cross, and point others that way. It is at the cross we find the greatest display of humility. Let us put on this humility and remember that at when Jesus comes again “every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Philippians 2). Peace be with you all.
“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.” 1 Peter 3:8
Jason Palmer is the Administrator of TalkingWorship.com. Jason has a Bachelor of Science in Ministry with a Worship Arts Major and Music Minor. He has lead worship for evangelical churches for 7 years and desires to see worship leaders become confident in their calling.