As a pastor, I have been given the unspoken rule to shut my mouth about politics when leading a congregation. This is a good thing since I admittedly do not know much about politics and I think I’ve been faithful to this unspoken rule, and I will remain to honor it. But you must know that it’s actually quite easy to honor it because as a pastor my calling is not to propagate political seeds of support for a certain party or policy. As a pastor, I’m called to propagate God’s kingdom, which means I am for many things that fall on both sides of the coin, but at the end of the day, I’m supporting and propagating God’s kingdom, not political kingdoms.
To allow myself to be identified by “one side or the other”, would be to say one side has arrived. Or if I begin to “champion” one side, then I begin to raise up on a hypothetical throne a “type” of savior of our day. Does anyone still believe that any one person, or one party could make all the necessary changes to get America out of the hole that we’re in with our finances, with education, with the poor and jobless, with wars and rumors of wars, with health care, with world wide injustice, with the killing of innocent humans, etc.? Apparently there are still people who do believe just that, which is confusing when history has proven man’s utter inability to create utopia, even for a short season.
But I understand the draw to want to be identified to one side or the other. We are always wanting to be identified by what we think is right and what is going to bring hope for our future. We all want to feel secure. We all want to live out our convictions. We all want to be on the winning side. If one side is celebrating, we either want to join them, or figure out a way to beat them next time. The problem is neither side is right and both sides are hypocritical, including ourselves.
A friend of mine told me over lunch that $1.5 billion was spent for each Republican and Democratic campaign, and that’s just campaign money. That’s $3 billion! How many people could be brought out of the bottom 2% of poverty with that money? How many jobs could be generated if that money went towards creating jobs for Americans who are out of work? How many children living in abusive homes could that money help? And they say they care for the middle class, the poor, for you! Our country has created a ploy to serve not the people, but the system. The system is being protected by both sides, and when systems are protected, people are overlooked and we are mostly ok with it; or at least our inaction says that we are.
So in case you’re like me and are prone to look your nose down at the system and think “it’s” the problem, we must look inward as well. You may only vote for a president once every four years, but you vote every day in between those four years by the way you live, or don’t live. The way you spend your money, the way you raise your kids, every private immoral decision you make, etc… affects this whole nation. You tracking with me? Our lives are voting machines that help direct this huge ship. How are you living?
We must not vote what we believe to be as close to our convictions as possible, and then throw our convictions out the window and live however we please. How you live determines how this nation goes. Take responsibility for yourself and stop the blaming. Sin is the problem… it always has been; and we are all sinners. Go ahead and say it out loud to yourself, it’ll actually feel good to live in truth for a moment… “I’M A SINNER. I’M PART OF THE PROBLEM.” Now that wasn’t that bad was it?
Christians are kingdom citizens, and we are called be identified by Jesus. Jesus came and didn’t support a certain tribe. Jesus came and didn’t seek to sit at the seats of high position. Jesus came and didn’t revolt against the current pagan government. Jesus came and didn’t sin against His conscience when asked to obey a law that commanded Him to disobey God’s word. Jesus came and didn’t wage war against everyone who was against Him or wasn’t inline with His political views. No! Jesus came and took what hypocritical, unfaithful, manipulative humanity deserved, and gave that humanity what He deserved. Jesus came to save sinners, so congrats to you if you have admitted you are a sinner… Jesus came for you!
It is out of this grace that we are now motivated to act and commit allegiance to Jesus. Jesus doesn’t ask us to obey out of a fear driven mentality, or even from a man-centered “what will I get from it” type mentality. Jesus asks us to obey out of a motivation of gratitude. Has the forgiveness of sins really been felt in your life? If it has, then your motivation to obey will be birthed out of gratefulness and worship of Jesus’ grace that He has shown you. If not, then your obedience will be motivated out of fear, guilt, or obligation and you will always trust in man or systems for hope that isn’t really there.
Jesus has offered grace. It is real. Jesus is the only person who can bring peace because receiving the grace that comes from Jesus, allows the Prince of Peace to be the one who is raised up on a throne in your life. St. Francis once said that for someone to be able to offer peace, one must first have peace in their lives. Jesus is the Prince of Peace, and without Jesus being regarded as such, there is no party that could ever get the desired outcome of the utopia that everyone is striving for.
So when you vote, vote with the mindset of being a kingdom citizen first, not an American citizen. Vote knowing that you are part of the problem and make a commitment to live differently these next four years. Better yet, today, you could make a commitment to follow Jesus by confessing that you are part of the problem and you need Him to take what you deserve so that you can get what He deserves.
Please exercise your freedom to vote, men and women have died to give you that right. Honor them by voting, but don’t be married to one side or the other. Know your values and which ones are most at stake in this current election. As Christian political scientist Jim Skillen once said, “Know what time it is.” Know what issues are at stake, and be an informed kingdom voter. This means you ought never to be fully endorsing one side or the other, as they both have fallen short of God’s glory and are need of being changed, just like yourself.
“Do you not know? Do you not hear? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in; who brings princes to nothing, and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness.” Isaiah 40:21-23