During an election cycle, probably like most of you, I have more conversation about politics than probably in the previous three years combined. At times it can be fun & interesting while other times it is frustrating & exhausting. All of us "arm chair" politicians talk with such fervor & conviction about policies, candidates & the future - all of us feel right, none of us feel wrong. As we approach election day here are some thoughts so that our Gospel Allegiance supersedes our national or party allegiance.
1. Some things are not fitting for followers of Christ to Engage in - putting a sign in your front yard that says "Hillary for Prison in 2016" or "Trump - Make America Hate Again" maybe how some of us feel but they are not the kinds of sentiments that followers of Jesus should make known publicly - primarily because it hinders our witness. but also because it shows little to no respect & honor for the leaders & candidates of our nation. Some of us may feel strongly that Hillary Clinton should be prosecuted. Others of us may feel strongly Trump is the worst candidate in years. But we should speak words to build up, not tear down; speak words that bring life, not destroy; speak truth but speak it in love. This is also true of our Facebook pages & Twitter feeds - we can speak with such anger and hatred, vulgarity and callousness. We can vilify those who do not agree with us and make strange bed fellows with those who do agree. In some cases the candidates on the opposite aisle are followers of Jesus - and thus should be treated with love & kindness as our brothers or sisters in Christ and not as enemies - even if we disagree with them on real, fundamental issues. In other cases, the candidates on the opposite side from us are not followers of Jesus at all - they are lost & they need the grace of God to be demonstrated to them & shared with them. Being sarcastically humorous or crudely humorous does not allow for either of those responses to be made known. God - let the words of our mouth and the meditations of our hearts, be acceptable in your sight - Oh Lord....
2. We must be careful not to vote & make decisions for just pragmatic reasons - it can be easy to check our theological convictions at the door when we discuss politics or enter the voting booth. We can make decisions primarily or only based on what the politician promises me or people like me. In a sense this seems natural. But remember Paul tells us "whether you eat, drink or what ever you do (including vote, speak about politics, etc.) do ALL to the glory of God. That means our primary motivation is not what the benefits are to me but how I bring glory to God in the voting booth. Ultimately, that is an issue that only you and God can know in your heart. So when you vote this year - ask yourself, is my decision to cast a ballot bringing glory to God or bringing glory (or something else) to me. Digging into this deeper - does it bring glory to God to vote for a person who supports the killing of innocent children? does it bring glory to God to vote for a person who promises me a tax break? does it bring glory to God to vote for a person is unethical or dishonest? God - whether we eat or drink or vote or argue or debate or support - may we do all to your glory.
3. Are We Choosing to Apply Standards of Morality & Righteousness Inconsistently - I remember in the mid 90's, the evangelical church for the most part was defiantly in opposition to the second term of President Clinton primarily because of his multiple scandalous affairs that had come to light in the years prior. The "moral majority" said character matters, not just politics & platforms. The democrats of course voiced their displeasure by saying "what goes on in the bedroom is private & has no bearing on one's ability to lead". This election cycle the roles have been reversed - the democrats are saying Donald Trumps lack of character matters because of his disparaging remarks about women, other races and his repeated divorces. While the republicans are boldly declaring "what went on in the past has no bearing on his ability to lead". We could make the same argument about Hillary Clinton on various issues. When followers of Christ inconsistently hold to standards not only do we lose credibility but so does the gospel. IF something is wrong & matters in 1990 it matters today - it does not matter who we are supporting. If honesty matters it should matter when it comes to Hillary Clinton & her repeated dishonesty in this campaign. If character matters then what Trump did in 2016 as well as in 2005 matters. God - may we consistently submit ourselves to your word & holiness so that we do not become hypocrites or pharisees.
4. Just because Jesus is King does not mean our votes do not matter - I am absolutely certain Jesus reigns today and tomorrow and forever. If the candidate I want to be elected is defeated all is not lost. If the Supreme Court moves farther away from where I Hope it would be God is not losing. But just because Jesus is King before and after the election does not mean we can just throw our votes down the toilet singing "que sera sera" - what ever will be will be. We are still responsible to make God honoring decisions. In my state of NY it is already clear who will win the electoral votes of this state. Like it or hate it - Clinton will win NY. But does that mean my vote does not matter? I must still vote my God honoring conscience. God has said that one day - every word we have ever had will be exposed before the throne of Christ and we will be held to account for it - don't you think that this is also true for how we vote? We will have to give an answer one day - why did you, a follower of my son, vote for a someone who has no concern for the law & does not speak truthfully? Why did you, a follower of my son, vote for a masogaonistic womanizer? I am not saying don't vote - I am saying vote with the expectation that God will ask why. And remember he knows your heart and sees right through the rhetoric. God may we remain confident that you are on the throne and be subject to your authority and wisdom in our homes, our workplaces, our schools and our voting booths.
5. Remember Neither Party Will move us any closer to the Kingdom of Jesus - I know this comes as a shock to you but liberals policies will not usher in a millennium of peace & conservative policies will not make the church great again. What moves us closer to God's design is for individuals followers of Jesus to be transformed into the image of Christ. The party of Lincoln and Nixon is not necessarily more godly or biblical. The party of Roosevelt is not necessarily more righteous. Both parties have a glimpse of morality (the democrats concern for creation care, caring for the poor, & care for immigrants are good things; the republicans concern for protection of the unborn, national security, and a strong labor force are good things) but both parties have immense problems. We do not put our trust in chariots or horses or elephants or donkeys (some of you will understand that later). We put our trust in the Lord God, make of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ his son, our King and Savior. What moves us closer to the Kingdom of Jesus? Living on mission. Sharing the Gospel with every man, woman and child. You can vote till the cows come home (is that a southern expression), you can argue about politics, you can advance a better tax code or welfare reform - but none of that will usher in God's kingdom at its fullest. Some of us care more about our politics and voting habits than about the church & God's mission. Some of us need to get our priorities straight. God - may we trusting you alone for our past, our present and our future.
There is probably more that could be said but I think this is a great place to start...This election, maybe more so than ever before, is challenging & complicated. Some of you are wrestling deeply with how or even if you should vote at all. I pray we will each honor Christ this November and beyond, all the while praying for the church to be an effective witness during these challenging times.
Come Lord Jesus Quickly - Maranatha!