Last week I read a social media post that saddened me. One of our younger colleagues made a comment about all the political posturing and endorsements leading up to the Iowa caucuses and the early primaries. The remark chastised other believers for making such a big deal about the coming election and concluded something like, "A new President can't save our nation. Only Jesus can. We must stop preaching politics and get back to preaching Jesus". Well, duh? Yes, it's true on both points, though a somewhat shallow exhortation to me. Jesus is the only hope for our nation and all the others too. One day he will reign as King. But, his church is on mission to make disciples of all nations till then. Teaching people how to vote their values and faith is part of that "till then" commission. We better grow up and get busy as we fulfill our "till then" duties.
The return of Christ is a significant New Testament theme. Someone has said that it is mentioned 318 times in the 260 chapters of the New Testament. Another indicated that the second coming of Christ is noted every 25 pages of the entire Bible. It is the resounding, glorious victory of Christ over the evil kingdom once and for all. By his grace that victory is appropriated to believers here and now. We may rightly pray for his kingdom to be done on earth as it is in heaven, and labor toward that end in fulfilling the Great Commission. But, it will remain a broken world until he redeems it. Our task is to be transformed into the character of Christ, live as partakers of grace, and share his glorious gospel til then.
To ignore the charge to teach responsible citizenship is to return us to the cloistered life before the Reformation of the sixteenth century. Making disciples must include teaching God's people the disciplines of Godly living in every dimension of life, including instruction about being active participants in the nations political life. Several certainties should overlay this resposibility----
1. A political gospel is no gospel at all. To believe or declare that any candidate is
the hope of the nation is just heretical. No political party or candidate has
messianic hopes or boasts saving claims.
2. Disciple making is the process of training believers to be like Jesus. There aren't
any no trespassing zones in disciple making. It is bringing the heart and mind
of Christ to every human endeavor. Silence about voting, vetting candidates,
and understanding issues is irresponsible.
3. Spiritual leaders, including pastors and church staffers, have a responsibility
to guide people entrusted to their care in political process. Wise counsel in
specifying issues is a function of spiritual leadership. Leaders cannot run from
this duty for the sake of expedience or fear.
4. Many election issues are rooted in spiritual truth and biblical authority.
Spiritual leaders must reference dependable support and background materials
when providing political counsel or examining party platforms.
5. Congregations must join in prayer for the nation as the political processes
Confused about the issues? There are numerous information sites that reference election issues that register with believers. Two or three include---
erlc.com/topics/list/ The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the SBC
blackrobereg.org The Black Robe Regiment web site
adflegal.org The Alliance Defending Freedom website
focusonthefamily.com Focus on the Family website
Each of the political parties and all of the candidates have web sites that give summaries of their political stances and their positions on topics of interest to voters from every political persuasion. Spiritual leaders should be aware of resources to inform voters in their communities about the spiritual and political positions of candidates voting in local and national elections.
Jesus will return one day to establish his kingdom forever. Until that day, we are to watch, pray, and work. To hide in the shadows till then can never be compatible with our commission to make disciples. Peter wrote profound instruction about living and influencing political processes. He wrote---
Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the
emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil
and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good
you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are
free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.
Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.
1 Peter 2:13-17, ESV