In case you hadn’t heard yet, today is a big deal. Over the years voting for president has become for me both exciting and a little bit scary. It’s exciting because of the stir. Like it or not it is a competition and someone will come out victorious. And like or not, we love competitions. I truly believe that politics are for some people what sports are for others.
But it’s scary too. Not because “my guy” might not win. Of course I have my opinions about all of this stuff, but I’m not brave enough to admit those opinions here. If you want to sit down and buy me coffee I’ll fill you in my thoughts. Of course that assumes that you care about my political opinions; which I know you don’t. I digress. My fears are more centered around the fallout that will inevitably take place. Each side is going to claim that the other side is cheating and rigging votes. No matter who wins, the losing side will talk endlessly about the oncoming demise of American values under “this” administration.
I guess I’m afraid of real division. I might someday get use to it in the world, but what really freaks me out is that this all trickles into the church. We all probably know God-fearing followers of Jesus on both sides of the isle, voting for either party and either candidate. This is fine and should be the case in our churches. After all, read a history book and find out that not all Christians loved Constantine. It’s okay to disagree, and maybe even healthy to some extant. The problem comes however in how we manage these things in relationship to our faith. The problem occurs when man’s politics become a bigger deal than God’s kingdom.
We all have had, and will continue to have conversations with students about this stuff. We did a short teaching with youth in our church which I’m using as guiding content for my discussions with other generations of folks as well. Below are the main points, which may help guide your conversations too!
1- Unity in the church is more important than our political opinions. Ephesians 6 reminds us who our battle is against and none of our current political parties are listed. As Christians engage the political processes of our country (or any country?), we should hold the unity of God’s people above all things. Politics are important, but doesn’t God’s kingdom rank higher in priority?
2- Let’s have our values shaped primarily by the Gospel and the Word. That isn’t to say that other sources shouldn’t contribute to political opinions. Certainly education, history, social context and others should continue to play a role. While we may disagree on the practical, political implementation of certain values, there are basic values which are clearly expressed in the Scriptures. These values can help foster the overall unity as we discuss how to implement the what we find in the Bible.
3- I believe that a reading of certain Gospel passages and New Testament Epistles can at bare minimum be seen as giving permission for Christians to be involved in the civil/political processes of their national contexts. However, it is even more clear that the Scriptures command us to be in prayer for these leaders. Paul spells this out pretty clearly in 1 Timothy 2. If the “other guy” wins tonight, are you really committed to praying for him for the next four years?
I admit that this oversimplifies things a little bit. But in a time where there is so much confusion and so much contention, I think we need to encourage our people that there are some simple truths to fall back on.
“Lord Jesus, may you guide our nation today. Give your church eyes to see how it is that we live the Gospel in this country. No matter who wins or who loses, we still pray your kingdom come.” Amen