Monthly Archives: August 2016

Why God Won’t Rescue Us This Election Year

 

Yes, it’s going to be a memorable election year, no matter what happens…and unfortunately, it will be memorable for lots of anxiety and anger, along with whatever other milestones are reached.

In response to all that unpleasantness, I frequently see one of my Christian friends’ Facebook feeds sport a meme that reminds us all that “Jesus is Lord” or that “God is Still on the Throne” or “Jesus is King of kings.”

Now certainly those things are all true, but why are you bringing them up now?

If it is to point out that God’s ultimate will shall be realized, then carry on.

But if what you are trying to say is that It’s all good, God is in control and he will save us from ourselves…I have to say I don’t think that’s true.  And to say that isn’t to besmirch his sovereignty!

One of the things revealed to us in scripture is that God is omnipotent…but he voluntarily limited his power when it comes to us, by giving us free will.  God doesn’t override our choices.  God will lead us and guide us by his Spirit if that is what we want…but if we are bound and determined to make foolish choices, he isn’t going to stop us.

And so when it comes to our election, we’ve been given plenty to work with to choose as wisely as possible – we not only have the Bible, we have the Holy Spirit of God within us to guide us into all truth!  We have been given wisdom and God will give us more if we will ask in faith.  We have been educated and know how to read and how to look things up and fact-check and know what a candidate really said (and we even have helpful fact-checkers who will help us know what they said last year!).  We have been taught that the priorities are to love our God and then to love our neighbor (who is anyone in need of mercy)…and even to love our enemies.  We have been taught to be suspicious of fear and anger and defensiveness as our motives, and to seek first the kingdom of God so we can proceed from peace.

We’ve got what it takes to choose well.

But if we persist in believing what is not true, in operating out of outrage or fear or tribal identities other than the kingdom of God, if we insist that only one issue is important to God and therefore we won’t bother to learn about anything else, if we find ourselves empowered by hatred…and THOSE are the elements of how we choose who to vote for, well…God isn’t necessarily going to rescue us from a terrible mistake.

God is going to let us have what we choose, with all the good and bad consequences that come from our choices.

Enough Old Testament history ought to demonstrate that bad kings got chosen and they then chose badly as kings…and the innocent were hurt.

So yes, God is on the throne, for sure…and he has promised that this world will come to an end and his own kingdom will come.  And when it does, there will be no more tears, no more mourning…and no more sin.   Jesus is King of kings and one day all nations will acknowledge his Lordship.  But this isn’t that time and he isn’t on the ballot.

So in my opinion, we need to take our right and privilege to choose our own leaders in this country very seriously.  And if we are followers of Jesus, we ought to be “wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”  We need to understand that we can’t vote into existence the kingdom of God on earth – that’s not how it will come.  We can’t vote or in any other way coerce people who aren’t Christ followers to behave like they are.  But we sure can vote and in other ways influence our government and culture to be just, to be wise, to care for everyone and to do what is right, as much as we can in this world.

And we need to put in the time and effort to choose well.

God isn’t going to rescue us if we choose to do it badly.  He will let us have what we think we want.

 

How Christians Should Vote….

 

 

I have a few political opinions.

But this isn’t the place where I am going to air them.

This is, however, the time and place for Christians to start thinking about what it means to follow Jesus as a voter.

The original writers and readers of the New Testament could not have imagined a world in which everyday people got a say in who their rulers would be!

In their world, rulers came and went and one could only hope they’d be just sometimes…at the very least, that they would not make things worse.

So our system of government, however warped it may be, would have been a shock to them.  And for that reason, the Bible doesn’t explicitly tell us how to vote.

Loving your neighbor

But we should vote the way we do everything else…loving God with our whole heart, soul, strength and mind, and loving our neighbors as ourselves.  Who is our neighbor?  The one we can have mercy on, as Jesus taught us in the parable of the Good Samaritan.

Jesus demonstrated for us how to live in this world, as “citizens of the kingdom of heaven.”
Jesus wasn’t afraid, and he wasn’t defensive.  He treated the weakest, the most needy, and those who were objectionable to the religious folks with the same respect he gave everyone.

And he wasn’t at all impressed with power – not the devil’s offer of the “kingdoms of this world,” and not Rome.

Nor was he troubled by Rome and their occupation or even their taxes – looking at the Roman coin with Caesar’s head on it, he said “give Caesar what belongs to him, but give to God what belongs to God.”  Caesar’s coin with his image?  The king can have it.  People made in God’s image?  They don’t belong to anyone but their Maker.

When we vote….

When we vote in the USA, we need to vote with our neighbors in mind, and their needs – not just about what is good for us and our families.

When we vote in the USA, we must not just vote for what is good for Christians – Christians are sent into this world that does not know God to show them God’s love.  Sticking up for our own interests first is the exactly wrong way to go about it.

When we vote in the USA, we must avoid the temptation to vote with only one issue in mind.  Our neighbors (and us, too) need more than one thing from government.  Love deals with the real world, and one-issue-voting is a shortcut.

In the USA, the church has benefited from surprising things, like the “separation between church and state” and the First Amendment which not only protects our religious practice and speech, but also has prevented the government from establishing any one state church or religion.

Freed to practice our faith without government entanglements has grown the American church.  We must not give that away, even at the “cost” of offering the same freedoms to others.  In a free marketplace of ideas, the gospel shines – we don’t have to be afraid.

When we vote in the USA, we are voting for people to take office.  Every person is flawed; everyone is a sinner.  If we are looking for someone sinless to take office, we will wait a long time!

So, in my opinion, we need to look for someone who is responsible and who is interested in looking out for all Americans as government does its work.  Anyone who writes off part of our population is, in my opinion, not a safe person as president.  Anyone who “will say anything to get elected” might say anything to get whatever they want…or their friends want.  If that kind of practice can be proven, it’s a big problem.   Anyone who appears not to believe in both justice and mercy is probably not going to do us good.

Love one another as Jesus loved us

Sincere Christians sincerely differ about political parties and candidates.  We are commanded to love one another as Christ loved us, so those things cannot be allowed to break fellowship among us.

However, sincere Christians who want to love their neighbors need to be willing to listen and learn, and like any good candidate, not write off swaths of their neighbors or enjoy cruelty to anyone.

In my opinion, certain kinds of political speech found on Cable TV and radio stations wears down the soul and teaches us hatred of our neighbors, and ought to be avoided.

In the Spirit, let us not be afraid and do for others what we would want for ourselves.  Vote like that.

 

Next time, why it’s not enough to say, “Jesus is King”