Furthermore, the posture of putting others’ needs before our own is what makes Christianity distinct and unique—it is a hallmark of the faith.
“Throughout history, when the church has opted for the tools and the machinery of the kingdoms of this world, the church ends up looking just like this world. And the church ultimately becomes a pawn.” When we demand our way, we lose our distinctiveness of not being in it to win it. When we push our own agendas, we become “just another organization with a self-serving agenda.”
Stanley takes a moment to qualify what he’s saying by differentiating between a person’s rights as an American citizen and the body of Christ’s rights. As a citizen, Stanley says one should vote for and stand for one’s freedoms as guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States of America. But acting and speaking as the body of Christ, our actions and words must not be for our benefit but for the benefit of the people and communities we are called to serve.
Political parties, on the other hand, are all “in it to win it.” This is why Stanley believes “pastors and churches should never publicly align themselves with anything or anyone other than Jesus of Nazareth.” Additionally, “It’s always a mistake for a church to drape itself in the garb of either political party.”
Bowing to Caesar?
Going back to the church’s decision to postpone meeting in person, Stanley says that decision “is not what’s best for us.” But regathering at this time would be a loss for the community—both because of what could happen and also because of the message it sends, Stanley believes.
While he avoided mentioning churches or leaders who disagree with this decision, Stanley did address a phrase several have been using lately (namely, John MacArthur). “We’re not bowing to Caesar,” Stanley said. “We don’t have a Caesar. The last Caesar died in the 5th century. Our government is not Caesar. A president is not Caesar. We have a we-the-people representative form of government.”
Stanley addressed fellow church leaders by encouraging them to “resist the temptation to do what’s right for your church if it jeopardizes the health and wellbeing of the people in your community.”