Two weeks from today, Americans will have the privilege of electing their government. Please take that privilege and responsibility seriously! Go vote. This year’s election offers us two very different visions of America, a real difference of policy. Please remember that it is not just a Presidential election! We are selecting people who will set public policy from local townships right up to the Senate. There are many reasons you may feel that your vote ‘does not really count.’ You may find it hard to support either party. Never the less, pray, think, get informed, and VOTE!
Paul urges us to remain engaged with the authorities that govern us. “Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation. This is the way our Savior God wants us to live.” (1 Timothy 2:1-3, The Message) Even as you wrestle with the choices of this election, pray. Ask for wisdom in your choices. Pray that God will guide those who are entrusted with authority.
Since we belong first to Christ and live under His authority, our lives should be markedly different as we approach this election. Pastor Rich Villadas of New Life Fellowship in Queens, NY offered these important thoughts that I am sharing with you today. Christians in America can (yes, we must!) demonstrate the life of faith that we claim. What marks us?
1. We are NOT paralyzed with anxiety over the results of this election.
I have voted in every election year since Jimmy Carter was elected President. For many years I was much more politically active than I am these days, even running for local office 25 years ago. And, I have never experienced a time when people are as anxious about the results as they are today. Stark pictures are painted by both parties that describe the end of life as we know if the ‘other’ guy is elected. While the election will have real consequences, Christian know this – we are secured in the hand of our Father. So, quiet your thoughts.
2. We PRAY for those with whom we differ.
The words hurled around these days are caustic, cutting, and cruel. We no longer differ with the ‘other’ candidate, we attempt to destroy them, offering mockery and disrespect. Even families allow themselves to be divided to the point of breaking relationship over Red and Blue. Christian we cannot do this and claim to be Jesus’ disciple. Yes, there are real differences and we continue to PRAY lovingly for those with whom we disagree.
3. We acknowledge our own blind spots and limitations.
To listen to some Christians speak, one could assume that they have just stepped away from a direct conversation with the Almighty, such is their certitude! No matter what you think you know, you do not know it all. We all bring our pre-conceived ideas, our experience, our assumptions to the process. Humility allows us to listen and learn. Being humble does not mean we set aside convictions, but we will admit that we do not share God’s omniscience.
4. We refuse to be trapped by the error of anointing a candidate or party as THE ONE that belongs to God.
5. We are passionate about the ethical concerns that JESUS teaches us.
Jesus taught us that that all morality flows from two commandments: “to love God with all one’s heart, mind, strength, and soul, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself.” Understanding public policy in terms of caring for ALL people, of every race, of both sexes, the poor and the rich, those who share our faith and those who do not – is no easy task. It is oh so easy to adopt slogans and sound bites without considering the very real impact on other people. Christian we must always ask ourselves if our support for a candidate or party is people-centered, if we are advancing those things which Jesus made of first line importance to us.
6. We are shaped in our behavior by Jesus’ voice more than the culture in which we live.
7. We live with a HOPE that is incomprehensible to those who are not alive in Christ.
The Word reminds us that we hold “unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” (Hebrews 10:23-24, NIV) Whatever the outcome of November 3, God will still be Lord of all, Jesus will still be our Savior, and Heaven will still be our eternal home! This hope should steady us, keep us focused on serving, and keep us from fear-mongering.
Friend, I ask you to join with me in recommitting ourselves to the care of our Father. Our peace is not born of apathy or ignorance but of a deep assurance of the unwavering care of God, our Father. Yes, we have to make a choice of party and/or candidate and I really hope that you will exercise your right as a citizen of these Unites States, but never forget – we are first citizens of the Kingdom of God. Let’s live like it.
Republican or Democrat, there are plenty of issues with the positions of each party. Someone has said that “If any Christian fits neatly into one political party, that Christian does not neatly into the Kingdom of God. God transcends all politics.” Amen.
My appreciation to Rich Villodas for giving me the outline for the Coffeebreak today. I pray the Spirit will fill us with the wisdom and peace of God.
The word from the Word –
“O LORD, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me!
Many are saying of me, “God will not deliver him.” Selah
But you are a shield around me, O LORD;
you bestow glory on me and lift up my head.
To the LORD I cry aloud, and he answers me from his holy hill. Selah
I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the LORD sustains me.
I will not fear the tens of thousands drawn up against me on every side.
Arise, O LORD! Deliver me, O my God!
Strike all my enemies on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked.
From the LORD comes deliverance.
May your blessing be on your people. Selah” (Psalm 3, NIV)