What follows is probably the most explicit political advice I can (or want to) give. I like sticking to the gospel, but politics and the gospel do intersect. So, because of that, I think it’s important for me to give some kingdom instruction that helps all of us make faithful political decisions. I want to begin with some foundational thoughts and principles and then finish with some practical suggestions.
The current Presidential campaign makes explicit what we should have seen and believed from the scriptures for years: this is not our home. The values, tactics and priorities of the two major parties and their candidates are antithetical to the gospel and the way and wisdom of God. Kingdom values that our King loves and promotes include love and generosity towards those who disagree with us, painstaking effort to be kind, self-denial and sacrifice for others, a fear of doing wrong that would prefer being wronged, and influence through service instead of by force. If I could say so humbly: the two major parties and their candidates (let’s not forget the media, too) don’t even try to pretend to embody these Kingdom values and priorities. And the one who does will most certainly “lose” according to the ways of this world.
Of course, our principle concern shouldn’t be complaining about this reality; instead, we should be investing our energy into heralding the greatness of our King and embodying his way in our daily lives. Imagine the good we would do if the energy we used to grumble was redirected into tangible works of service for the good of others in the name of Jesus. Yes, let’s do that.
Realizing more clearly that we are out of place in this (political) world, I’m hoping this makes us more hesitant to identify so strongly within political parties. I’ll say it: if Jesus is your life than you’re not going to fit into the Republican or Democratic parties – or any political party for that matter. I’m thinking too many of us have overly embraced political party affiliation at the cost of our gospel witness; I’m hoping this year’s Presidential campaign has revealed this error.
When we stop principally identifying ourselves politically and let the kingdom of Christ be our primary affiliation, our civic life will take the shape of our the Lord of Glory instead of the woefully deficient platforms of the popular parties. Have you noticed that? Neither party embraces all the Gospel priorities of God: opposition to abortion with passionate care for scared, pregnant mothers; care for God’s creation while seeing the necessity of economic development to help the poor; the need for a robust safety net for the struggling while promoting (demanding) all able-bodies to work are just a few examples. When you are principally Republican or Democrat you’re forced by your party to emphasize one value at the expense of another; it’s the way politics is played. So, FBC, rise above it! Refuse to accept the option. And do so by principally identifying yourself as a citizen of a better country – the one ruled by King Jesus.
I’m hoping 2016 is a new beginning for many of us. Let’s use this year as a pivot point where our civic involvement forever takes the shape of Christ and his way. Let’s thank God for this necessary correction and let us pray for the future of our country. Now, here are a few suggestions as you cast your vote.
- Remember what God says good civic leaders are supposed to do (Romans 13:1-7): they are to promote and ensure justice by incentivizing good behavior and punishing bad behavior. Vote for people who will do that, FBC. By voting for people who can’t or won’t promote and ensure justice you are complicit in the problems of injustice that these elected officials continue.
- Approximately 125 million people voted in the 2012 Presidential election. More will vote this year… and you will get one of them. Just one vote. When I consider this I wonder: “Maybe I can make a bigger impact locally than nationally?” FBC, even though the federal government keeps growing, I’m thinking we can make a greater impact in our own community with investment and involvement here. So, consider spending more time thinking how you can make a difference here and count your vote for local races more critical and important than your national one. Consider the impact you can make in your local school district or city government. Think about how you can shape your county’s priorities. Let’s maximize our influence by getting involved at home.
Fix your eyes on the Lord, FBC. He is our wisdom. Let’s do good to our neighbor through our civic involvement and vote while rejoicing that we have a better citizenship and an abiding one. ~Pastor Brian Wipf