Now we have come to the final part and thus the final point of this particular line of thinking. If you need to catch up you can can click to see Part 1: Election Year; here or see Part 2: Confusion; here. So if you are caught up or have been keeping up we now come to the crux of the matter, the center point, the lynch pin, the meat and potatoes, the bottom line… the point, which I need to get to. It comes down to this:
Involvement in the political process is a matter of wisdom/stewardship/discipleship
In other words it is the role and responsibility of the individual believer.
This being the most important aspect of this whole statement (blog series), it must be understood that I believe in the process and being part of it, being wise in stewarding your community, voting based on your convictions. As a pastor my job is not to tell anyone what to think, but to sharpen those believers who are under my care, challenging each of them to grow in wisdom, grace, and understanding of the word, which then would effect any participation in the political process. This is where it matters that we live for truth rather than carry truth around like a club, where it is of the utmost importance that we do not live like hypocrites, but walk in humility.
If we actually live out the freedom and hope that is given us through the gospel we can let go of our fervent political ideology as a means to that freedom or hope. Then we are free to enter into discussion and thought about politics more practically and less emotionally. Then people can vote with wisdom and conviction based on what they understand to be biblical, without the need to tell everyone else how sinful or unintelligent, or worse, un-Christian they are for not voting like Jesus would have voted. It also disallows the assigning of one political party as more Jesus centered and keeps the election year free from needing to turn the pulpit into a series of sermons on the hot topics, and keeps the pulpit focused on the elevation of Jesus, not the United States’ political climate, as our central object of worship. In reality it transfers politics into one of the least aspects of who we are as believers and how we express our faith (unless of course you work/serve in the political arena) and puts us back on mission to live for Jesus consistently in every aspect of our lives, this is how impact is truly made.
Change is brought by Christ-like character lived out (the Gospel in action in our lives)
Every biblical example of a man standing for right and effecting change in a government leader or system is based in that individual living as set apart and in the case of Joseph (Genesis 39-45) and Daniel (Daniel) they were first taken into slavery and then in submission to those in authority over them and by living righteous and Godly lives, as well as using the gifts God gave them to serve (even those who held them captive) it was only then that they were able to effect change and offer counsel to the leaders.
In the case of Paul before Felix and before Agrippa (Acts 23-26) it was more of the same, Paul was living out his calling as an Apostle and after being accused by the Jews he stood trial in defense of the Gospel, then he was able to share wisdom, which honestly Felix rejects and leaves Paul in jail. However even knowing that didn’t stop Paul from preaching.
The final piece of this is John the Baptist before Herod the Tetrarch in which John had spoken out against Herod’s adultery, keeping in mind that Herod was a Jewish leader and subject to Jewish law (Matt 14:1-12, Mark 6:14-29) and John was calling him out on living outside of the law. To contrast this last example, we cannot hold a non-believing President or legislators to biblical standards and get hacked when they don’t “follow the Lord” by implementing policy we disagree with.
The bottom line of the bottom line:
I hope you can understand that this is not a position I take out of fear of offense, or out of lack of conviction, or certainly out of biblical ignorance, but as a pastor I understand my calling is to elevate Jesus, compel believers to draw close to Jesus, preach the gospel, and teach the full counsel of the bible. I am convinced it is more important for us to live as faithful, seek righteousness & holiness, love mercy & justice, and from that our lives then make impact. Believe me when I say I will preach like a lion in defense of God’s truth and certainly I hope you understand that I am willing to do whatever it takes to forward the gospel in a manner consistent with the biblical calling of a pastor/elder, however I see little kingdom value in using the pulpit to contest the political measures of a fallen world, endorse clearly secular political candidates, or in any way press people toward aligning any political ideology or party as more “Christian”, when I know that such contesting, endorsing, and pressing will not bring about change in men’s hearts, nor will it draw them closer to Jesus. I will continue to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ as our only hope, the only thing that brings lasting change to our sinful hearts, the only measure of righteousness, and our only means of salvation.
Hopefully this blog is a catalyst for understanding and growth in this particular matter as I was preparing to post this this morning I came across another blog from another pastor whom I respect named Ed Stetzer and you can find that here. It may convey some of these things more concisely, but I will end with a quote from his blog this morning
“Pastors should preach something more important than politics– they should preach Christ. They should preach Scripture. When they preach Scripture, they will indeed address issues that the world sees as political, but they distract from their message and mission when they start using the church to endorse candidates”
Grace and Peace to you.