Cameron Strang, the Florida Evangelical publisher of the Christian magazine, “Relevant”, had the opportunity of a lifetime as a Christian when he was invited to deliver the opening prayer at the Democratic Convention. I don’t know if Mr. Strang considers himself a Pastor or just a Publisher but he said that he changed his mind about delivering the benediction because he didn’t want to be seen by his magazine readers as “picking a political side”. I ask Mr. Strang to turn to his Bible for guidance on the issue.
In Matthew 24:14, Jesus says, “And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it…” (NLT) Jesus would surely mean that Democrats should also hear the Gospel.
Jesus above all pastors did not worry about being seen picking a political side that would offend the religious “powers that be”. Matthew 9:10, “Later Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with such scum?’” Jesus replied, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor – sick people do”…”Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’” Jesus did not worry about offending the Pharisees, He knew where He was needed.
Jesus went about His ministry preaching to sinners and unbelievers. He spent much of His time with people who were considered outside of acceptable religious society. I can’t ask Him directly but based on what the Bible says about Jesus and the kind of Pastor He was, I don’t think he would place political considerations above sharing God’s love through prayer with anyone on earth, including Democrats.
Now I am not naive enough to think that perhaps Mr. Strang could have made his decision based on things he’d rather not talk about. Perhaps there were restrictions he had to agree to in order to give his Benediction. Perhaps the leaders of the Democratic party said he could not mention sensitive things like abortion in his prayer. Perhaps he agreed and then had a fit of conscience about it.
But that isn’t what he is saying publicly, he is merely saying giving the prayer would place him on the Democratic side of the election politics. I can’t respond to hypothetical reasons he backed out, only to what he is saying, and the reason he gave simply isn’t supported by Scripture.
Mr. Strang has in fact picked a political side by publicly accepting the invitation and then reversing his decision and declining it. It appears that Mr. Strang chose magazine circulation over Gospel dispersion. He says that he does want to share the Gospel, but in more private settings within the Democratic Convention. Most Christians know Matthew 5:14 where Jesus says, “You are the light of the world – like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead a lamp is placed on a stand where it gives light to everyone in the house.” (NLT) It is sad that Mr. Strang chose not to let his light shine from the “hilltop”; it was a rare opportunity to be relevant.