PART 1 – It’s an election year…
Maybe you’ve heard, maybe you haven’t but a great number of people will be involved in a small process at the end of this year to decide who would be president of our nation. Every election year it seems that we see many people become involved in, not just the political process, but politics and all that it entails for better or worse, and often worse. In any given election year, and at my age I’ve seen a few, there is an overwhelming outpouring of opinion and in those opinions it often looks like people who normally love Jesus, don’t really think He’s capable of much in the way of influence or power.
During this time it seems a lot of people want their church to chime in on such issues and declare moral rightness in voting one way or another, whether in regard to a candidate or party, or with regard to specific propositions. It may be that there is a mass of confusion for people who love Jesus and are trying to follow after Him when it comes to political involvement. There are a lot of questions that come from this confusion, at least questions that need to be asked. Such as; where do we truly find hope? How do the hearts of people really change? What makes me so passionate about this stuff?
At the very least there is the obvious confusion and at the very worst there is a borderline idolatry (or maybe even outright idolatry) that occurs every election cycle. Some people, as followers in Christ, want to know what their role is, if they are supposed to have a specific political affiliation or if it is the church’s job to tell them how to vote. Others believe they have the answer and are more than willing to share… many of whom are wrong (there… I said it).
So to help bring perspective, I thought I would offer this 3 (maybe 4) part blog into the conversation. By the way, a conversation that involves people who love Jesus who find themselves on either side of the “aisle” for whatever particular reason, so please read on.
First thing we must start with is the basic mandate of the New Testament Church (big “C”), which is found succinctly stated in two scriptures:
Matthew 28:19-20 – Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Acts 1:8 – But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in all Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the Earth.
From these two passages we can see and discern Jesus intent for the Church. We are to be about proclaiming the Gospel, baptizing, and teaching people who have come to faith to follow Jesus (making disciples). In addition there is as outlined in Acts 2:42-47 the church in community, but I believe this is what it looks like when the Gospel is lived out by the people of God. This is a corporately held mandate for all believers; it is not one that is executed solely by the pastor or leaders however we do understand that there are positions of leadership given to the church for it’s guidance and benefit. So then we have to look at the biblical role of the pastor.
The pastor or pastor/elder (the Greek word is the same) is given a very specific role within the church and it’s important that we understand what that is.
1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 lay out the qualifications each man should possess as he is called, as well as Paul’s second letter to Timothy he instructs him this way “and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” 2 Tim 2:2
Paul also gives what I believe is the most complete and concise pastoral directive in Ephesians 4:11 – 12 “And He (Jesus) gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry for building up the body of Christ” The passage goes on to describe that equipping as building in maturity that we may grow in Christ-likeness.
From these two things I have drawn the distinct conclusion that my role as a pastor is to preach the Gospel (Acts 1:8, Romans 1:15-17) , teach the full counsel of the word of God (2 Tim 4:2), continually lift the name of Jesus as our Lord and Savior and only hope (John 3:14), challenge people who have come to faith (believers) to live lives in response to the Gospel (Romans 12:1) , and teach/empower those believers to share, teach, and lead (Ephesians 4:12) all of this is also encompassed in Matthew 28:19-20
You may be able to see where I am going but we are not done, and I would please ask that you refrain from passing total judgement before getting all 3 (or 4) parts of this blog. Feel free to comment and ask questions. There is more to follow and in the next post, we will cover the confusion of the roles of the church and the pastor and more importantly the confusion of the role of politics and the gospel in our lives.