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.

quote: the God of the second chance

 

“In terms of qualifications and rights, we are all like Jonah. Who can claim to be qualified for participation in the divine work? Who has not disobeyed in the past and forfeited any rights that might pertain to serving God? The service of God is thus … always a second chance, always an undeserved privilege. And if vocation comes to us, we can never say that it is on the grounds of our gifts and qualities, or our capacities for the job at hand. The call of God is … a sign of mercy, in that he is willing to employ the unworthy …” (Peter C. Craigie)

quote: how is it God reaches out to us?

 

“God is holy and just. In all his deeds, God is true to himself and faithful to his promises. In contrast, we act in opposition to our true selves and break our covenant promises. Rather than acknowledging God’s gifts with grateful hearts, we take our lives for granted; or, even worse, we use them as if we had created ourselves. When we ought to honor God by conforming to his holiness and justice, we follow our own foolish inclinations and reject the divine wisdom embodied in God’s law.

“Even if we admit that God has bridged the gaps between being and nothingness, between meaning and meaninglessness, why should the righteous and holy God reach out to an arrogant and ungrateful sinner? That which is nothing might at least arouse pity, since its pitiful state is not its own doing. But the ungrateful lawbreaker who considers himself wiser than God clearly deserves the consequences of his actions. Divine righteousness on one side and human unrighteousness on the other, God’s holiness above and our unholiness beneath – how can God bridge such chasms? And why would he do so if he could?

“To our amazement, God wills to have fellowship with the unrighteous: he chooses to save sinners from the consequences of their actions. … Why does God forgive sinners and reconcile them to himself by taking on their sin? Because he loves us with a love that ‘surpasses knowledge’ (Eph. 3.19), and that provokes our wonder and amazement.”

(Ron Highfield, Great Is the Lord: Theology for the Praise of God; pp. 175-176)

a prayer for the oppressed & persecuted

 

Great God, Ruler over all, we come before you in the name of the Lord Jesus, the Prince of Peace. Your power is indisputable and all-surpassing. Your rule ever is right and good, just and merciful. All glory, honor, and praise be to you, God!

Without your rule, God, we would be nothing at all, swept away with the wind. And we sadly confess that your rule, we often ignore. Wipe away this weakness in your servants, we pray, and bring your kingdom to completion in the lives of your people. Forgive us, God.

Thank you for every measure of quiet and calm that you have granted humankind. Thank you for working your will of peace through rulers and officials, heads of state and governmental leaders, throughout all the world. Thank you for the many things we take for granted in how we are able to live our everyday lives.

And God, hear our plea for relief to all who live lives that are always greatly burdened and often in upheaval. We pray for all who groan with the rest of creation under the weight of sin, but who also must bear the added weight of affliction for faith, beating for believing, torture for trust, and threatening for obedience to you. Shield those who are in jeopardy now and deliver those who are on the brink of martyrdom. Set the captives free and break the rule of those who rule with little sense of humanity. In it all, God, may witness of you and your supreme rule abound.

Decree it and it will be, God. This we believe and know. Pour out your compassion and bring justice. Sweep away oppression and bring in your kingdom more now than has ever been before.

Amen.