Summary: Let's vote but let's also make sure we're living out the Great Commandment and the Great Commission.
Engage as Citizens
Rev. Brian Bill
November 5-6, 2016
Early on the morning of the final presidential debate, I brought the newspaper in for our 96-year-old neighbor like I normally do. Pointing to the headline in the paper, I asked Val if she was going to watch the debate that night. She quickly replied: “No way. It’s all disgusting.” Later that night, Beth and I sat down to watch the debate with our 17-year-old daughter. After about 10 minutes, Megan stood up to leave and said, “This is disgusting.”
When I shared this story during our staff team time on Tuesday, Pastor Chad perceptively quipped, “at least we now have something that brings the generations together!”
That’s a pretty sad commentary, isn’t it? Val has been through at least 18 presidential elections in her lifetime and is now disgusted with the political process and our daughter, who hasn’t voted yet, is already turned off by all the vitriolic verbiage.
The polls back this up as 71% of seniors say they are stressed and half of all adults are experiencing anxiety during this election season. On the other end of the age spectrum, according to one study, 1 in 4 millennials would rather the earth get hit by “a giant meteor strike” than have Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton in the White House.
Here are some words that describe what many are feeling – fear, anger, disgust, distrust, frustration, embarrassment, and hostility. One blogger who is a believer commented, “We live in a culture where snipers live behind laptops and smartphones. Fewer people are interested in debate and more are looking for enemies to eviscerate.” Some have become unhinged and others are on the ledge. Charles Lyons, a pastor in Chicago, writes: “This election highlights our social decay and cultural rot. This election serves up exactly what we deserve…we’re in the middle of what we helped create.”
Our country is conflicted by all the campaigning and some Christians are castigating other Christ-followers who might have different political views then their own. I came across this satirical article with this headline: “Nation’s Christians Look Forward to Questioning Each Other’s Salvation in Post-Debate Discussions.”
“…Multiple sources confirmed Wednesday that Christians across America are looking forward to questioning each other’s standing before God as they discuss the night’s event and the looming election at large. ‘It’s a refreshing litmus test we only get every four years,’ noted American citizen Christopher Gilmore. Erica Womack, another American, echoed Gilmore’s remarks, adding, ‘It’s a convenient way to tell true from false believers, since no one who disagrees with me politically is a true Christian. They may say they are, but they’re not.”
This is obviously satire, but I wonder how closely this reflects what many of us really believe.
As I prayed about what to preach this weekend, I came up with ten biblical convictions that will help us engage as citizens. We’ll finish by walking briefly through Romans 13:1-7. But first, here are two preliminary points.
• I’m a pastor, not a political pundit. While I do follow politics with great interest, my understanding is pretty basic. But that’s OK because my calling is to be a pastor. The word “pastor” means shepherd and as such, my two primary responsibilities are to spiritually lead and Scripturally feed this flock. 1 Peter 5:2: “Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you…”
• I will not lift up one political party or denigrate another. I recognize that this topic can be emotionally explosive and so I want to make an appeal for us to be open to what the Bible has to say. [Let’s not look at the Bible through Republican or Democratic lenses – hold up red and blue plates]. I came across this quote: “We aren’t here to one-up one another, but to help one another up.”
Related to this, I won’t share who I’m going to vote for and have never used the pulpit (or table) to proclaim my political views. That’s not to say that I don’t receive pressure to do so. One person sent me this note a couple weeks ago: “Pastor, we’re holding our breath awaiting your sermon on politics…” This individual wanted to know which candidate I’m going to promote. I’ve been helped by this verse from Daniel 2:21: “He changes times and seasons; He removes kings and sets up kings…”
In an effort to communicate a more tender tone today, I’m going to sit down.
1. Voting is a stewardship issue. It’s our privilege and responsibility to vote (and some of you have already done so). Deuteronomy 1:13 describes the importance of choosing wisely when Moses gave the people this charge: “Choose for your tribes wise, understanding, and experienced men, and I will appoint them as your heads.” Note the importance of character as a qualification – wise, understanding and experienced.