Mention politics from the pulpit and you are likely to be reminded of a well-known prohibition, whether in legal terms or as a general rule of decorum. Certainly, cheerleading on behalf of one candidate or issue over another to a congregation that is likely divided in their allegiance in similar proportion to the culture at large brings the possibility for unnecessary division. Leading followers of Christ, however, to see what God’s word says about his expectations for the process and the outcome is very much the role of the Shepherd. And what God demands of all people in every situation is justice.
“But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” Amos 5:24
During each political season we are inundated with politicians promising to address what they deem is the most important issues of our time. We will be promised more of this or less of that. Assurances will be made that the politician will be tough here, tender there and right down the middle in those situations on which they don’t want to make a statement. They will appeal to our basest desires, our hidden longings and our unspoken prejudices.
Rarely, if ever, will we hear mention of how their election will result in an increase of justice and a subsequent decrease in inhumanity. Not surprising. Especially for the follower of Jesus Christ who recognizes immediately that justice and humanity are our responsibility.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: love your neighbor as yourself. All the law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37 - 40
The Christian voter must keep God’s will and purpose in tension with the cultural designs that the majority of politicians will seek to address. While a tax cut or a more libertarian approach to drug laws might seem appealing from a cultural vantage point, the Christian position on these proposals requires us to ask how each might hinder or encourage our freedom to love God or the effect that it will have on our community, the neighbors whom we love. Unless the politician making the promises has demonstrated evidence of a life lived in obedience to the Lord’s principles, disciples of Jesus must make judgments based upon how that candidate or the proposed legislation will affect their individual ability to root out injustice. The question we ask is not will they do or not do what I want them to do. The question to ask is how their election or the passing of a new law will of fact what God demands of me to do.
A Christian in 2016 is truly an alien in the post-Christian culture in which we live. There is a greater and greater temptation to abdicate our responsibility for the love of God’s image bearers to the political machinery, but his word reminds us that this is not a possible choice. Whether we participate in the election or not, whether we find all choices distasteful, whether we see no redeeming attributes in any of the candidates, one of them is going to be elected President. On the day after election day and that choices announced, the disciple of Jesus Christ will still be called to seek justice and to love others. Which of the candidates is going to be more or less likely to protect your liberty to do so?
Paul, Idaho October 2016