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When we start thinking about preaching, does anyone ever think of politics? What does politics have to do with preaching? Aren't we supposed to keep those two subjects separate—never the twain shall meet? Why should we bring such a debated subject into preaching?

One definition of political from Dictionary.com is "having a definite policy or system of government." Typically when we think about politics, aren't we thinking about who is in office in a particular branch of government? When we talk about politics, don't we start discussing policies and issues? The church often does not engage in political preaching; but at its core, preaching is political. Politics claims that we need to listen to and obey a certain power or authority; by this definition, we are unable to be faithful in preaching unless preaching is inherently political!

Another definition of preaching from Dictionary.com is "the art of delivering sermons." OK, so what is a sermon? That definition from Dictionary.com is "a discourse for the purpose of religious instruction or exhortation, especially one based on a text of Scripture and delivered by a member of the clergy as part of a religious service." This means our Christian claim of Jesus being the King of kings and Lord of lords (1 Tim. 6:15) is political.

Jesus Christ came to us as a baby in Bethlehem: "The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!" (Luke 2:11), and His kingdom was foretold before His birth: "He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the throne of His ancestor David. He will reign over Israel forever; His kingdom will never end!" (Luke 1:32-33). We can proclaim this truth with absolute certainty from the pulpit.

This kingdom we proclaim is counter-cultural. "Then He said to them, 'Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on My behalf welcomes Me, and anyone who welcomes Me also welcomes my Father who sent Me. Whoever is the least among you is the greatest'" (Luke 9:48). This is a statement not from this world, a world of pride, of climbing the success ladder, of doing everything possible to get ahead of others. This truth must be from a different world. Whoever is the least is the greatest? What kind of foolish notion is that?

Biblical preaching does not seek to influence the modern world, but wants to move people to a different world, a world that is unavailable to them without preaching. Faithful preaching is always part of the process of conversion from death to life, from old world to new world, to redemption and restoration. This new world is the kingdom of God. Old worlds must pass away for new ones to come to life, and people typically do not let go of their old world freely and without struggle. Truthful preaching without conflict is an oxymoron, because we always are seeking to move people from where they are to where God wants them to be.

Authentic biblical preaching helps those listening toward conversion, a shift of power and transmission of authority, nothing less than death and resurrection. Every faithful Christian sermon by this logic is political, as it always contains a dispute about who is in control of our world and consequently our lives.

Preaching can't stop being political or stop proclaiming the truth about the kingdom. Preaching can't stop pointing people to Jesus. Preaching can't stop advocating for change and redemption. Preaching consequently can't prevent conflict and can't stop being political, for that is fundamentally what it is! Preaching calls people to a new life and a new King.

Preaching is God's servants proclaiming His reign. It is not yet entirely established, but its totality is coming. In Luke 11:20 Jesus says, "But if I am casting out demons by the power of God, then the kingdom of God has arrived among you." He continues in verses 17:20-21, "The kingdom of God can't be detected by visible signs. You won't be able to say, 'Here it is!' or, 'It's over there!' For the kingdom of God is already among you." Preaching moves from saying what the world around us is and is doing to freeing people in order to move them toward Christ and His kingdom.

What is the kingdom of God like? When Jesus was asked this in Luke 13, He returned two answers: "Then Jesus said, 'What is the kingdom of God like? How can I illustrate it? It is like a tiny mustard seed that a man planted in a garden; it grows and becomes a tree, and the birds make nests in its branches. ... It is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Although she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough.'" The kingdom of God permeates, spreads and grows. The vehicle of preaching is one tool used for its growth.

What else do we know about the kingdom of God? In the Gospel of Luke, we find these answers: The kingdom of God has a narrow door (v. 13:24); belongs to children (v. 18:16); anyone who doesn't receive the kingdom of God like a child never will enter it (v. 18:17); it's hard for rich people to enter (v. 18:24); those who sacrifice for the kingdom of God will be repaid (vv. 18:29-30); the kingdom of God's totality is not yet realized (v. 19:11); based on signs you can know the kingdom of God is near (v. 21:31); communion has its meaning fulfilled in the kingdom of God (vv. 22:16, 18); Jesus will have people eat and drink at His table in His kingdom (v. 22:30); Jesus will remember people in His kingdom (vv. 22:42-43); people wait for the kingdom of God to come (v. 23:51).

While it is questionable how much time actually should be spent examining or discussing secular politics in a sermon, all sermons that are faithful to the art of preaching characteristically will make a claim about who actually is in charge and therefore will create a group of people who are different from the world. We must not fail to realize the large political call we are placing on the listeners with essentially an invitation to move to another world. This is a hard word for the congregation to hear, but the results are not up to us. We are called to plant the seed, to cultivate the soil and to leave the harvest to God.

Through preaching about Jesus and His kingdom, we are entering a massively political arena, where we declare who has power, authority and whom we will follow. This is good news: The King is on the throne. His kingdom never will end. Through preaching, we have the privilege of communicating this truth to those seeking Him every Sunday.

Willimon, William H. (2010). Proclamation and Theology (Horizons in Theology) Abingdon Press.

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Alexander Drysdale Lay Preacher Uca Australia

commented on Jun 19, 2014

Sex with a capital 'S' or Religion with a capital 'R' or Politics with a capital 'P' should be avoided. Religion, as Christians should be looking at it, seems to me to be a small 'r' because we are not important. What is important is that God loves us and if we live our lives in that context (and what that context means) then we will love God in return and that love will show in our lives and bring others to Jesus by example. This is not politics. It is not republican or democrat or Coalition or Labor in Australia. It is our relationship with God. That is not political. It is factual and always will be.

Carlos Jones

commented on Jun 20, 2014

The bible is a political book. God created laws in the beginning and those laws created a culture. In matthew 5 Jesus talks about not coming to abolish the law but to fulfill it. If he is talking about laws then why shouldn't we. It is up to us as believers and disciples to have Kingdom influence not only in church but also in politics. If we are quiet in the world then we permit new laws that may affect the polity of the people within our church. It is time for us collectively as THE CHURCH to not only talk about what is happening in our world from the pulpit but to inspire our congregation to get involved. So we can have a voice and speak about the Kingdom and advance the Kingdom of God on a larger scale.

Alexander Drysdale Lay Preacher Uca Australia

commented on Jun 20, 2014

The bible is a book which is the word of God. Certainly there are laws in it. Those laws are the foundation of our world especially our Christian world. I hear all you say, Carlos, but I can't see how the bible is political. We fight for what is right, not for what politicians say.

Carlos Jones

commented on Jun 20, 2014

Jesus was a revolutionary that changed the way that people thought and responded to authorities in government and religious leaders. Many of the disciples were brought before government because of the things they were speaking out about. Jesus was crucified by the government. Paul was held captive by the government because of what he stood for. Jesus went against the culture or law of that time when He and the disciples picked corn on the sabbath, healed on the sabbath etc. This went against the culture, which heavily influenced politics. I don't believe we should be democratic/republican/ Coalition/ or Labor in Australia. But I do believe that we should stand for laws that have Kingdom foundations. If we know what Laws God has established and we see government perverting that then we should say something about it. If we are silent then we permit all that happens in the world and allow authorities that may not be Godly to rule, when we have a voice and a people that can be heard.

Matias Indrajana

commented on Jun 22, 2014

For example Luke 15:11-24 the call of theme "Prodigal son". Jesus does not tell after the son is welcomed to the home. Some audiences shared the everlasting love the Father must proclaim even when they have not sinned or they are going to make sin tomorrow then they (the audiences) knows that they act of behalf of perception God they will be welcome as well. The audience project their will and their respective action will not matter for similar and same mistake. The preacher with an oxymoronic call, be able to set the theme for example "Scandalous (Shocking) Father" so that the audiences will not be able to predict the outcome of the God judgement tomorrow and element of "Reconciliation Process, Will to Change so to Joy Kingdom of God" of the son should remain the covering theme. It is probably the sermon beyond politics.

Matias Indrajana

commented on Jun 22, 2014

For example Luke 15:11-24 the call of theme "Prodigal son". Jesus does not tell after the son is welcomed to the home. Some audiences shared the everlasting love the Father must proclaim even when they have not sinned or they are going to make sin tomorrow then they (the audiences) knows that they act of behalf of perception God they will be welcome as well. The audience project their will and their respective action will not matter for similar and same mistake. The preacher with an oxymoronic call, be able to set the theme for example "Scandalous (Shocking) Father" so that the audiences will not be able to predict the outcome of the God judgement tomorrow and element of "Reconciliation Process, Will to Change so to Joy Kingdom of God" of the son should remain the covering theme. It is probably the sermon beyond politics.

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