How can you tell if a pastor is picking a fight? Quite simply - every single one of these pastors picks the same fight over and over again for a season, then moves on and picks a different fight over and over and over again for a season, then moves on and picks another different fight.... These guys tend to develop what we call "one track minds."
When they do this, they become narrowly focused on one idea, and they start "calling it out" everywhere that they see it. And before long, they're calling it out everywhere they suspect it. And not long after that, everywhere they can make a case that perhaps it is happening.
I recently saw a pastor who loves to preach sermons that agree with the culture on a number of hot-button issues go on a rant about "conservatives," drawing his information from a left-wing political "watchdog" group whose entire existence is based on "gotcha" moments, real or imagined, centered on right-wing political figures. One politician with an R by his name had said one thing, and this group went off on all Republicans, on all conservatives, on all Christians calling them backward and stupid and accusing them of twisting the Gospel and making ludicrous claims. As if this one guy speaks for everyone who votes Republican or calls themselves a Christian.
And by the way, that's another way you can tell you've got one of these activist pastors in front of you - they are always calling out Christians for being wrong and hate-filled and backward and stupid. They are always railing against the church, for some reason. Except, of course, for their church, where they are doing it right. Whatever it is. All of the other Christians in the world are very, very wrong.
Anyway, this pastor starts laying into conservatives and those who call themselves Christians because this one guy said something really dumb in his public platform. And then, a couple of days later, he got a ministry email from some organization to which he is apparently a part (or he wouldn't be getting their emails), and it was an offer of financial resources. But it included the disclaimer, "Conservative churches only."
So immediately, this pastor starts going off about how political conservatives control all of the money and are out to destroy those who are "trying to be like Jesus actually was" (i.e. him and his church) and it's all a great big conspiracy against liberals and democrats and the future of our country is at stake!
The thing is...when someone is talking about a conservative church, they aren't talking about politics. They aren't talking about a church that votes Republican. They are talking about a church that holds to a doctrine of true biblical interpretation, one that doesn't add to the Scriptures or twist them in the face of culture. Being a conservative Christian is not about politics at all, but because that's this pastor's pet project right now, he spun it so that it sounded like it is.
And that's what tends to happen with activist pastors. They latch onto a single idea, and then everything becomes about that. Every sermon, every tweet, every post, every meme, every everything becomes centered on this idea because, again, what they want is for you to see them and then to hear them tell you that they are acting like Jesus. Even though they're picking these fights every time and sometimes, as we've seen, even fabricating them just to "win." Because the truth is that if you hear a certain message enough, you'll almost always start to believe it.