Monday, November 3, 2008

Election: What Christians Are NOT Saying

nI'm writing the day before the 2008 Election. Tomorrow we will elect national officials (a new president and vice president), state officials, county officials, and local officials. We will vote on several proposals (such as stem cell research, medical marijuana, and a millage regarding our county community college.)

We have been inundated with ads. Some partially true. Some mostly false. We dread picking up the phone or the mail because we know "they" will get at us in every conceivable form.

In those ads we've heard a variety of reasons to vote for this person or not vote for that person. We've been told how this proposal will devastate this area of our life or that proposal will be the "game changer" (one of the pundits favorite phrases this election cycle).

Running in the circles I do, I hear a lot from Christians about how to vote. In some cases we refer to the what the Bible says about a certain topic. In other cases, we infer what would be the proper vote to cast for the issues on the ballot.

That's fine. It's appropriate. Our democracy needs vigorous debate and expects us to vote our conscience. Certainly our religious teachings and experiences help shape us, for better or worse. I trust that people of faith who vote do so prayerfully and thoughtfully.

But there are parts of Holy Writ that I don't hear the faithful quoting. Parts that are relevant not only on Election Eve, but every day, every year. Here's one:

I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, interecession and thanksgiving be made for everyone - for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. (1 Timothy 2:1-2).

I'm curious. How many of us regularly make prayers and thanksgiving for our current President or Governor? (Notice, one is a Republican and one is a Democrat. And Scripture instructs Christians to be praying for both; for "all those in authority".)

I wonder. How many of us are willing to make that pledge, right now? Will you, regardless of how tomorrow goes, pray for our President and Vice-President on a regular basis? (Notice, I did not say pray "against" them.)

Now I can hear some of you already. "That was fine back then. But have you seen our leaders today?" Right. I forgot. Jesus and Paul had a great relationship with their government, right?

No. They were passionate about living the life of godliness, holiness, and self-sacrifice. If only we were as passionate about living lives that look like Jesus as we are about getting our people elected. If only we were passionate each of the next four years, not once every four years.

I recently heard from a pastor of another congregation who said something like this: "I wish my people were as concerned about the people who live around them as they were who gets elected and which proposals would be passed. I wish I would receive as many e-mails from my parishoners about helping their neighbor whose in a faltering marriage, working with someone facing eviction from their home, or their friend whose battling addiction as I do about how to vote on November 4."

Ain't it the truth?

Am I saying we shouldn't be passionate about candidates and issues? No. But if you're not willing to obey scripture that obviously instructs us to pray for our leaders, don't expect anyone to take you seriously about your candidate or your proposal.

And if you're not too keen on promising to pray for one of the presidential tickets, consider what the Apostle Paul writes to young pastor Titus.

Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men. (Titus 3:1, NIV)

Did you catch that? "Be subject...and...obedient". Really? It gets worse.

"(B)e considerate and show true humility." Ugh.

Now I get a good laugh from political pundits and satirists like you. But can we also recognize that there is a fine line between good-natured humor and disrespectful slander? There is a difference between honest, respectful disagreement and toxic, name-calling animosity.

Sometimes in the Church we like to be prophetic about particular issues. "Thus saith the Lord."
There are times we should do that. But let us "be the Church" in season and out of season. Let us live out scripture (be subject to authorities, peaceable and considerate, praying for all those in authority), when we're in power and when we're out.

Grace & peace

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