Thoughts For My Fellow Christians on Election Day

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Today is an exciting and potentially historic day for our great nation. It is a day in which we once again have the privilege of exercising our right to vote and it is a day that many on both sides of the political aisle feel will have monumental impact on the direction of our nation. It is also a day that many believers have been anticipating with great fear and anxiety. While I have absolutely no idea what the outcome of this election will be today, I do know that God cares far more about how His people treat each other and represent Him than He does about a particular political party winning or losing. With that in mind, I have a few brief thoughts for my fellow believers that I hope will be considered on this election day.

You Are a Christian First

If you a follower of Christ, that identity supersedes all others. Before you are an American; before you are a democrat or republican, conservative or liberal; you are a Christian. You are a child of God and as such you are His representative. You a citizen of His kingdom with temporary citizenship here in this world. Your obligations are to him before they are to any political party or social cause. Many Christians are approaching this election with the claim that they are voting based on their faith and their beliefs, all the while acting in a manner that is absolutely contrary to Christian behavior. I urge you to consider not only the rightness of your stance (because you just might be right), but also the manner in which you are taking it. Christians cannot be mean-spirited, nasty, dishonest, fear mongers. It is sad to see so much hatred, ignorance and divisiveness among the body of Christ. Remember, today and every day, that if you bear the name of Christ than you must live in a way that honors him.

We Are All Americans

Somehow this particular election seems to have gotten even more divisive than usual. Those of us who are Christians must remember that while it has been a great privilege to live in a country that has largely supported our Christian values and lifestyle God has nowhere promised that it should be so. Being American is not about faith or specific political positions. In fact, the beauty of America is that we are a diverse people unified under the belief that we are all free to believe, like and live however we want. Those who stand across the political divide from you are just as American as you and likely love their nation just as much. Wherever we end up after this election, I can promise you that our nation will be much better off if we get over the “us and them” mentality that has dominated this election cycle and get back to being a unified nation of diverse beliefs and preferences.

God Is Still In Control

Regardless of who is our president or what political party is in power, God is still sovereign over this nation and His world. I want to urge my fellow believers to stop acting in fear as if God cannot handle it if certain people or parties are in power. God is in control, and the simple truth is that He might not want what you expect Him to want. There is no guarantee that he wants you to have religious liberty. There is no guarantee that He wants you to live in a nation that makes it easy to worship Him. There is no guarantee that he wants you safe or wealthy. We just don’t know. What we know is that He is in control and we must accept that His ways are not our ways. Trust Him. Rest in Him.

Prayer Is Our Weapon of Choice

With many Christians taking to social media to fight it out over their political views, I think we need to be reminded that “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places(Ephesians 6:12).” The way we fight that battle is not through clever arguments or nasty rants on the internet, but by “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication (Ephesians 6:18).” I urge you today to be in constant, persistent, selfless prayer. Pray for your brothers and sisters who are voting and pray for your brothers and sisters around the world who never get to vote and are living in persecution for their faith. Pray for your current president as well as for the next one. Pray for your nation, communities and neighborhoods. Pray for your church family. Perhaps most importantly, pray also that God will give you a spirit that is in line with His; pray for a heart that sees this world and the people in it the way He does. Pray! Pray! Pray!

You Have Been Given Peace

Too many Christians are walking around these days worried and in a panic. They are troubled over the state of our nation and all worked up over who will be the next president. I can tell you this: if you as a believer do not have peace now, you will not have it when you get your preferred president either. That is because genuine peace cannot be dependent upon circumstances. Peace is an untroubled heart because of faith in Christ regardless of circumstances. Jesus said to His disciples, “I am leaving you with a gift–peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid (John 14:27).” Peace is a gift from God, but we have to choose to experience it by trusting Him, refusing to dwell on the circumstances, and by being grateful for the blessings He has given us.

God is a Big God Who Deserves to Be Honored

My biggest concern is not for the outcome of this election, but for God to be glorified by His church regardless of what happens in the election. My heart’s greatest desire in all of this is that the church would stand up for what is right, while also acting right; that we would represent our Lord in a way that will make Him happy and not ashamed. While many people will be discussing the election and its potential outcomes and problems and so on throughout the day today, it is my desire to simply remind you that you serve a big God who is in total control. Don’t worry; don’t be afraid. In the words of Paul, “May the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way 2 Thessalonians 3:16).”

 

Photo By Harley Pebley (Flickr: Prayer for USA) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Sunday Supper March 29, 2015

In a feature reminiscent of my childhood in which Sunday supper consisted of a smorgasbord of leftovers and a random assortment of other foods, I bring you an assortment of random items of interest from the past week.

  • I watched Unbroken this week and was pleased. It is the story of Olympian and WWII POW Louis Zamperini. It was a good movie and fairly accurate as far as I could tell. You can see more about the movie here. If you’re curious about the accuracy of the movie, there is an interesting article here. As usual, the book by the same name that the movie was based on was even better and I highly recommend it.
  •  Thom Rainer offered some excellent observations about mean churches over on his blog.
  •  Paul Seger, the General Director of Biblical Ministries Worldwide had some helpful and brief thoughts on short term missions trips.
  •  Great article entitled Why You Should Think Twice Before Badmouthing Obama admonishes believers to honor our president regardless of our personal opinion of him. I’m not sure how recent this article is, but I came across it through a friend this week. Good stuff.
  •  My most frequently viewed post this week was Thoughts on Religious Freedom. The impetus for that post was the signing of Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, but I didn’t really comment much on the bill itself. Here is some information from the Gospel Coalition that might prove helpful. To be fair, here is a perspective from a group opposing the bill.

I hope you enjoy this random collection of stuff. What have you been reading or watching that is interesting, enjoyable or helpful?

Thoughts on Religious Freedom

My state of Indiana made national news yesterday when Governor Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The bill is being painted as a protection for the religious liberty of business owners by some and as aggressive discrimination (primarily towards the LGBT community) by others. I suspect that the real truth lies somewhere in the middle, though I am not qualified to speak to the true intent or implications of a bill such as this. I have no desire to argue with anyone about the merits of this bill, though I suspect as with most things it will do some good and cause some harm. What is for certain is that opinions on this topic are varied and intense, and this always fosters inappropriate dialogue and behavior from all sides. When it comes to my own personal feelings on these types of issues, my greatest concern is that Christians represent Christ well – regardless of our political, social, or theological opinions. Toward that end, I have some thoughts that should shape our speech and actions during controversial times such as these. Consider the following:

  • Religious freedom is a sociopolitical blessing and not a divine guarantee. I am thankful for the religious freedom we experience in our nation, but God never once promised that society would always make it easy or convenient to follow Him. Religious freedom is nice, but it is given to us by a human government and might one day be taken away by that same government.
  • Religious freedom must be shared equally. We cannot bemoan the religious liberty of those we disagree with and complain about ours being infringed upon at the same time. I do not have to see every belief as theologically or morally equal to stand up for that person’s right as an American citizen to have that belief.
  • Religious freedom is not the historic norm. Christians should expect to be disagreed with and even persecuted. Jesus predicted this (Matthew 10:22; 24:9; John 15:18-19) as did Paul in his writing to Timothy. Paul said that “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (2 Tim 3:12).” Though we are blessed with religious freedom at the moment, it is not to be considered the norm by true believers. We should expect persecution, and when we receive it, we should respond with love and prayer and gentleness.
  • It is always right to obey God, whether it is legal or not. In Acts 5:29, Peter and the apostles told the government that they must obey God rather than man. When they made this statement, they were also willing to face whatever consequences that may have come with it, and we should as well.
  • We must distinguish between God’s law and our own personal beliefs and preferences. This is where there may be a great deal of difference in the determination of what violates God’s law. I opt to see this line drawn at sins that God Himself spells out for us. In context of the law we are discussing, I believe it would be a sin for me to participate in homosexual activity myself, but that it would not be sinful to provide business services for those who do.
  • We are called to be holy, not to force others (particularly an unbelieving society) to be holy. There is no scriptural obligation to force moral legislation on an unbelieving world. God wants changed hearts before he expects moral conduct anyway, so there is no spiritual benefit to forcing unsaved people to abide by our beliefs. The only purpose this serves is to make it more convenient for me to live as a believer in my society and convenience is never promised or even encouraged by God.
  • Theological or moral correctness are never a license to mistreat another person. This is probably the issue I am most concerned with in the Christian community. For some reason, the church seems to believe that as long as they are right then they can also be mean and hateful. This is unacceptable and dishonors the Lord. I am not saying that it is never ok to say that someone else is wrong or that someone’s behavior is wrong. I am saying that it must be done in a loving manner. There is no room for name calling or disrespectful, angry and out of control conversation.
  • God’s Kingdom is not of this world. Above all, we must remember that this world is not our true home. I am afraid that we get so caught up with every societal issue that we forget this is all temporary. True believers will set their affections on things above (Col 3:2). We will not be ensnared by the temporary things of this world (2 Cor 4:18). Practically speaking, this means that our priority should always be spiritual things. When it comes to a disagreement, the other person’s salvation should always concern me more than my rights or my correctness on a particular issue. Unfortunately, many Christians would rather see lost people burn in hell than violate their own earthly comfort or convenience.

I’m sure that there is more that could be said and I am certain that many will be offended by what I have written. Regardless, I assure you that my heart’s desire is to see God’s people rise up and show His love in a way that is so uncommon and so unexpected that it might just make a difference in this dark world in which we live. To God be the glory forever!