As oft happens I was once again last week given the label of being too political as a pastor… well, that’s not exactly true.
I’m not political, I’m biblical! I therefore speak biblically to cultural and political issues as clearly and concisely as possible. Fact of the matter, that’s not a new idea, nor is it unbecoming of Pastors in America.
As we celebrate our Nation’s 241st birthday think back with me to the night of April 19, 1775, the night of Paul Revere’s famous ride. He rode to warn two famous patriot leaders, John Hancock and Sam Adams, that the British troops were coming their way. They were coming to raid and destroy the ammunition dump at Concord and then to find Hancock and Adams, put them in stocks and chains, march them to the harbor, then to England to be tried for treason and hanged!
A notable thing to remember is where these guys were staying that night in Lexington…they were staying at the home of a Pastor, a Pastor by the name of Rev. Jonas Clark. There is immediately whiplash in the secular media… What about separation of church and state?
Aren’t church folks and pastors supposed to be quiet and let government do its thing? The answer is twofold; there wasn’t yet a state to try and separate the church from at this point, and without the church as we shall see there wouldn’t even be a state! Secondly, government is a God thing… He designed and blessed it, and quite honestly, it only works well when the church adds great influence to it!
Now back to Pastor Clark… from 1762-1776, Pastor Clark drew up a series of reasoned responses to the British Parliament’s oppressive rulings.
When the stamp act passed in 1765 he called it a door to numberless evils. When the Quartering acts passed in 1765 and the British troops could come into your home eat your food, sleep on your bed and break your stuff and you could not only do nothing about it but you had to pay for damages yourself, he spoke against it and said that it was an infringement of our natural God given rights. When the Tea Act passed in 1773 he said that any citizen of Lexington who consumed British tea should be looked upon as an enemy of the town. He preached sermons and wrote newspaper columns bringing a Biblical perspective and biblical truth to political issues.
That brings us to the evening of April 19th 1775 when Pastor Clark hosted these two great men, John Hancock and Sam Adams in his home. These patriots asked Pastor Clark,” are these men ready to fight?” According to Historian George Bancroft, he replied, “I have trained them for this very hour!” The next morning they were to prove it. Capt. John Parker assembled the men, 67 of them in two lines on the Lexington green; they were vastly outnumbered.
The British came around the church building and Capt. Parker said, “Stand your ground, don’t fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here!” Some 77 Americans would face about 800 British troops. Gunfire was exchanged and right there in the shadow of the church with the men of the militia who belonged to the church, who drilled on the green in front of the church, the battle began.
Pastor Clark would later say,” From this day will be dated the liberty or the slavery of the American world.” Thus began the war of independence in the shadow of the steeple, the shot heard round the world! As the smoke cleared, 18 Americans lay wounded or dead, with all of the casualties in the battle being from Pastor Clark’s church.
May we never forget the words of President John Adams regarding the influence of the church. He rejoiced that “the pulpits have thundered” and specifically identified several ministers as being among the “characters the most conspicuous, the most ardent, and influential” in the “awakening and a revival of American principles and feelings” that led to American independence.”
I am also convinced of the important a roll the first great awakening played in the seeds of revolution being sown in the heart of a new continent which produced the greatest blessing economically, militarily, and spiritually the world has ever known. May we never forget the boldness and courage displayed by the revolutionary era, Pastors who were willing to put faith into action giving their lives, if need be, for freedoms generations have come to enjoy!
As we remember the events of this week that occurred 241 years ago and the liberties they eventually produced, let’s also remember the responsibility those events place upon us. Listen again to President Adams, “Posterity! You will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom! I hope you will make a good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven that I ever took half the pains to preserve it.” Happy Birthday America, may we never forget from whence we came.
Tim Throckmorton is the former Executive Pastor of the Plymouth Heights Church of the Nazarene in Franklin Furnace Ohio and the Portsmouth First Church of the Nazarene in Franklin Furnace, Ohio. He is currently the Senior Pastor at Crossroads Church in Circleville, Ohio.