A Word to Shepherds on the Dangers of Disengagement

Martin Niemoller was a German Lutheran pastor and theologian who became a leader of a group of clergy who opposed Adolph Hitler and the Nazi regime. His resistance eventually led to his arrest and confinement in several of the infamous Nazi concentration camps.

After his release by the Allied troops, he continued his ministry as a leading voice of repentance and reconciliation for the German people following the dark and evil days of WWII. He penned the following words as a warning of the dangers of succumbing to political apathy.

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

As I was taking my kids to school this morning, I was reflecting on the current battle for religious liberty taking place right NOW at the Indiana Statehouse. I have received several kind notes from legislators and lobbyists thanking me for making the long haul from Northwest Indiana to our Capitol to speak on behalf of liberty.

They were reminding me that my voice matters.

But in between the lines, there was a clear and sober plea from those on the front lines that we need more voices, especially the voices of our shepherds – the spiritual gatekeepers of our cities and the ones who stand in their pulpits each week to declare the Word of the Lord.

I sensed the Holy Spirit reminding me of these powerful words from Rev. Niemoller, while adding a few new stanzas to make it more relevant to our times.

First they came to attack God as Creator and the source of truth and morality, but I said nothing because who was I to “force” my religion on others.

Then they came for the unborn, enshrining “CHOICE” as the new authority and “FREEDOM” as the reason to destroy an innocent life. But I remained silent as the Supreme Court had ruled and submission was my God-given duty.

Then they came for marriage, proclaiming “love is love” while redefining the sacred institution of marriage into a social arrangement for adults of the same-sex. But I remained silent because I didn’t want to be on the wrong side of history.

Now they are coming for religious liberty, labeling the clear teaching of the Scriptures on sexuality as “hate speech,” shaming believers who live out their biblical convictions as “bigots,” and attacking our Christian business owners with threats, lawsuits and fines. But I remained silent because my role is to preach the “gospel,” not to get involved in the political skirmishes of the day.

And then they came for me. And now I have no pulpit, no flock, and no voice because there was no one left to speak for me.

Shepherds, your voice of courage, clarity and conviction is needed now more than ever. Now is the time for ACTION. I’d love to hear from you. Please contact me at the Indiana Pastors Alliance as we work together to faithfully proclaim the good news of the Lordship of Jesus over all of His creation.

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