Q & A: my political Facebook posts

 

Q. David, for someone who is apolitical, you certainly don’t shy away from posting links to articles on political subjects on your Facebook. Why is that?

A. I pray the news. I refuse to simply “scan and stew” over or “glance at and gossip about” news that appears in my news feed. Instead, I deliberately attempt to re-frame such in my mind so that they become prompts for me to pray. I believe such is a healthy way of engaging the news that helps me keep the leverage of spiritually-healthy habits in my own hands. That is, rather than just being a passive sponge soaking up what happens to come my way, I seek to actively take people and matters to God in prayer. That’s where they belong, right?

For example, if I come across piece that stirs up in me a reminder to pray for a person or people group spotlighted by that piece I am either not accustomed to praying for, then I pray for them, then and there. I occasionally share links to such posts, along with comments as to how that particular items moved me to pray, with hopes that it will spark in others similar prayers.

Q. While prayer is certainly good, wouldn’t it be better for you, and perhaps for all, to just ignore the whole political scene?

A. I think not. What good would that do? It isn’t like politics is going to just go away anytime soon or that people are going stop drinking in the news. No, we’re just like the ancient Athenians, aren’t we? (“For all Athenians, and even foreign visitors to Athens, had an obsession for any novelty and would spend their whole time talking about or listening to anything new.” – Acts 17.21, Phillips)

And so, if the news if going to wash up on us and we’re going to choose to swim in it, then someone needs to be modeling how to swim in the surf, how to avoid being carried out to see by the riptide, and how not to drown in the swell. I seek to humbly instruct. Period. Among other things, true Christ-followers seek to hold up to the Lord in prayer all who are leaders, not merely those we happen to agree with or who we want to see become leaders (1 Timothy 2.1-2).

Q. Noble. But really now, how many people do you think are actually going to take up seriously praying the news? You’re pretty much alone in this, buddy.

A. No, I don’t believe I’m alone in this by any means. And I seek to lay out and model good. Whether anyone else takes that up or not should have no bearing on my choice of doing what I understand to good in the light of Scripture. I believe I see many people making unhealthy choices all the time as to how they process, or fail to process, “the news.” I seek to hold up a good way of handling “the news” and leave what is done with all of that up to God and others.

Q. Well then, do you have any advice or thoughts in general about how to read your posts, particularly if they link to political matters?

A. Do remember, I am apolitical and so, I refuse to stump for or promote any particular candidate anywhere. If you find some news links I post offensive, recall that they just might have been offensive to me in some way, too. I post not because I necessarily agree or disagree with everything in a piece, but because I know others are likely encountering the same or similar and because such posts prompted me to do the very best thing I could do – talk with God in some way about it all.

speaking my mind on politics: a Q & A

 

This is a rare moment … I’m speaking my mind on elections, human politics, etc.

Q. David, where exactly are you in all of this political business these days?

A. I consider myself firmly apolitical.

Q. To which party do you belong?

A. Jesus Christ is my only “party.” Some of the words of a well-known hymn we still sing come to mind: “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name. On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand; all other ground is sinking sand. … His oath, his covenant, his blood supports me in the whelming flood.” I mean those words when I sing them. Wholly. Especially in flood years, like election years. Jesus is Lord.

Q. I’ve heard you say you dread “election years.” Why?

A. Frankly, because anger, division, hate, rancor, and resentment grow like strong, abundant weeds in our society during those years and I consistently see those same things even increase among many Christians at the same time. Election years prove to be fertilizer for some of the worst of things with people’s attitude and behavior toward others, not the best. Such grieves me.

Q. Who will you be voting for?

A. You speak in the future tense. I do my voting in the present tense; daily. Such voting is called “prayer.”

Q. Who would you hope Christians would vote for in this Presidential race? Steer us a direction. Be specific; name names.

A. The last time I answered that question was when I was a very naive young man, a still new Christian, and an exceedingly green preacher. The year was 1980. I believe it was a mistake to answer that question then and I’ve not answered that question since. I plan to never answer it again.

Q. Don’t you think that the only reasonable candidate to vote for is _____ because they believe _____ [insert one specific issue here] is _____ [right or wrong]?

A. No. A single human life is far, far more complex than any single issue. A single life is such deep water that only God can fully fathom it. How much more so then when we’re talking about one life influencing and/or directing the lives of millions, or billions, of people on an ocean full of matters?

I will venture further. This question is usually put to me – usually, but not always – with abortion being the subject that fills in the blank. I will only say that while abortion is an extremely important matter, it is only one of a great many matters of life and death that a President decides daily that affects a multitude of lives. That is to say, there is much, much more to being truly “pro-life” than being “against abortion.”

Q. Is there some Scripture you can give me for guidance as to what a Christian needs to do in regard to elections, politics, etc. … and if you would, comment on it, please.

A. “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people — for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2.1-4 (NIV))

Many things could be said. I will offer three thoughts. First, I would observe just how much emphasis is placed in this passage on prayer. This is the whole point of the passage! And so, I would seriously ask: how do you engage the politics of this world with prayer? At all? Randomly or sporadically? When whipped into a frenzy on a certain matter by some persona in the media? Or is it quite deliberately, steadily, and with real faith in God as our only true Savior?

Second, it only seems reasonable then that those who would direct society toward the ends of peace and quiet are themselves to lead lives that exhibit peacefulness, quiet, godliness, and holiness. If not, how then could they lead others to such? These qualities are not private matters, rather, they are exceedingly public. They are qualities that are to be exhibited not merely before, but toward, all people. And, a leader’s ways are contagious. If you want a peaceful and quiet society then you need a peaceful and quiet leader who lives a life of godliness and holiness. Pray to that end.

Third, this Scripture prompts us to consider who it is that is inevitably trampled underfoot when lives are not at peace, not quiet, not godly, not holy. The answer? The weak and vulnerable, the marginalized and forgotten, the dehumanized and destitute. And so, such people must constantly be at the forefront of our mind when matters of human government are on the table. If they are not, we are only deceiving ourselves if we believe we are truly seeking the matters of peaceful, quiet, godly, and holy life.

a prayer for all civic leaders and politicians

 

Holy Father, God and King over all creation,

I come to you in the name of the Lord Jesus today, lifting up to you every civic leader and civil servant, every politician and government office holder, in this world.

Praise be to you for so ordering things that there is some semblance of order in this world gone wicked and mad.

Thank you not only for not writing off this part of your creation and allowing this world to descend into total disorder and anarchy, but for relentlessly pursuing it with your great love.

All glory and praise be to you in that you – wonder of wonders! – daily work your infallible will through fallible men and women.

And so may each and every one of these servant leaders know you, Father; truly know you and live for you for with every beat of their heart.

May you not be closed off from their first consideration in all their agreements, ballots, choices, decisions, deliberations, discussions, and votes.

Bring what you would to bear in the life of each of them to the end that they ever seek you foremost, seeking to honor and love you in everything by loving people with your love.

When they pray to you, listen to their prayers and give them the confidence that their prayers are heard by you.

Constantly call to their mind your promises as well the promises they have made to you, for these are ever greater than the promises they have made to others.

Ceaselessly broaden their field of vision, ever educating them to the needs of all the people they serve, and not merely those who like or support them.

May they ever learn, and love to learn, what is holy and good, pure and noble.

As they owe many people favors and kindnesses, ever guide them in the way of doing right, making them incapable of being bought or owned by others.

As they deal with much money often, guard their hearts, and all connected to them, from the love of money.

Shine your light on any and everything within them that even leans toward arrogance, deceit, deception, pettiness, pride, self-reliance, selfishness, or revenge.

Kill within them anything like even a single seed of the party spirit that kills the spirit of so many.

Enable them to recognize every form of subtle trickery, underhandedness, and manipulation, and as they identify such, may they not succumb to such or come to embody it themselves.

Surround them with good counsel, good friends, and good support, lest they find themselves surrounded by those who would seek to do evil to them or through them.

Remove any and all blinders with which others would mask them and summon up within them the vision to see through every unhealthy influence put to them by others.

As they are privy to and entrusted with far more than can ever be revealed to the people they serve, deliver them from being puffed up with such knowledge, along with their constituents in their ignorance.

Protect their hearts from the callousness that can grow from being constantly exposed to the friction and toil of gossip, lies, misrepresentations, misunderstanding, rumors, and slander.

As their families live constantly in the face of the camera and every watching eye, and as even the slightest matters of their loved ones are ever scrutinized and examined, safeguard all from bitterness and cynicism.

Still the tongues of all who mindlessly and heartlessly criticize, judge, and demean these servants of yours, putting within us all instead the ever present reminder to only do to others as we would have them do to us.

Help them to see beyond themselves, their dreams, and personal ambitions, and to perceive instead, your calling as to what you have in mind and would have done.

Shield them from despair and despondency when their good work surely seems in vain or once again goes unappreciated.

Forget not their righteous works and grant a good harvest from every seed of good mercy and true justice that they plant.

Give them a constant awareness of, and sensitivity to, the effects their attitudes and actions have on the most vulnerable in society, and grant them the courage to gladly stand up for such without hesitation, apology, or compromise.

When they are at an impasse with other leaders, may their efforts to work together never cease, growing instead only more sincere and humble, conciliatory and constructive with each passing day.

Pour out on them a steady shower of your discernment and wisdom that they may be quick to forgive of things past and equipped to forge a foundation for better relationships between all in the future.

Forgive them of their deliberate sins, as well as all unintentional slights to you or harm to any creature or aspect of creation.

Amen.

and so this is Election Day

 

Today is Election Day in the United States.

This is a day, like any day and every day, that I seek to declare to myself, and to all, that:

* God rules the world, not the United States.

* Jesus is Lord, not the President of the United States.

* And the Spirit who is Holy does what he will; it is our humble task to discern and do his will.

It is a day we Christians say to all, whether we vote or abstain from voting, that:

* We love God and love people with the love of God, in that order and so, work with God toward the blessing of all the people of the world, regardless of nationality.

* We are all about helping usher in the kingdom and rule of God, not selfishly attempting to promote and establish our own way or comfort.

* We refuse to reinforce the walls erected in this world between people – the walls of discord, denigration, distance, and destruction; rather, we work to tear those walls down by the way we treat each other – especially those with whom we sense we have experienced, or have given, discord, denigration, distance, and destruction.

May God help us all:

* To be people truly humble and respectful of God and others; thinking of, and actively putting, others first before ourselves.

* To use our tongue and actions wisely, knowing that by our own words and deeds, we will be judged.

* To aim at nothing less than being humanity as God intended, right here, right now, by the grace of God; not segregated by our color or the color we vote.

reflection on the dissection of the election

 

As we here in the U.S. move daily deeper into the election season, may we all pause and carefully consider …

1. That all of the candidates need our sincere, earnest, and consistent prayers.

2. That the people we speak about, we do not know. We know a little – a very little – about them, but we do not know them. As we daily bank on others who do not know us to give us great grace, may we gladly extend to others what we yearn for ourselves.

3. That the people we talk about and of whom we so easily opine, have families and friends who are deeply affected by what we say and how we say it. How would you have your children, your mother, or dearest friends hear others speak of you? And so, how do you speak of the candidates? Would you dare say what you do the face of their smallest children? For whether or not you realize it, you do.

4. That it is infinitely easier for us to act as if we are very much in-the-know about what should and shouldn’t be done in governing our nation than to actually do it. It’s something akin to being a know-it-all Monday morning armchair quarterback rather than being a Sunday afternoon quarterback in the real game, no?

5. That the way we judge others is the way we will be judged.

the presidential election, prayer & Miroslav Volf

 

Miroslav Volf has been posting a series of status updates on his Facebook page laying out  (1) “a concern,” (2) a “value,” (3) a “rationale,” (4) the “debate,” and (5) “a question” for this year’s U.S. presidential candidates. If you plan to vote, you should read these posts. If you don’t plan to vote, you should read them to help you as you pray for the leaders of the world’s nations.

These same posts will likely appear in the (free) fall issue of Yale Divinity School’s publication Reflections.

If you’re unfamiliar with Volf, here’s a link to a fine interview of Volf conducted by Krista Tippett back in 2004 that will help you appreciate the man. His thoughts on enemies, forgiveness, nonviolence, and pacifism are particularly insightful and powerful.