Once again, the younger generation speaks. Paz delves into the political arena with thought provoking and personally convicting words about American election. Not that voting in of itself is wrong, but rather the dogmatic American ideology of the process. I was challenged by her words as I’m sure you will be too.
The American Presidential election is a only a few short weeks away. And each Sunday, ministers all over the country are exhorting their congregates to get out and vote to insert a reason (uphold religious freedom/against abortion/support God’s cause, etc.)
The average evangelical churchgoer is often made to feel they are failing God if they don’t vote. They are not being “salt and light”, they aren’t “holding back the enemy”, they are failing to “pull America back from the brink”.
Every four years, laboring ministers do their best to whip a heavy, creaking institution up to enough speed for a mighty collision with the political powers. Kind of like two medieval knights jousting. The impact, if the church ever built up enough steam they say, would be spectacular.
Many Christians get starry-eyed at the thought of the church becoming a powerful political force in her own right, a Christian “enforcer” of sorts.
So, is this right? Are Christians required by God, by their mandate to be “salt and light”, to be politically active?
Last week, late Sunday morning, I was sitting in a living room, talking with a small group of people, and the subject happened to turn to America.
One man started talking about how American Christians have the responsibility of saving America. He believes that God favors America and wants to bless her, but Christians have to step up to the plate. We have to stand on our covenant, that America is absolutely still a Christian nation, and that President Obama was most certainly wrong to say otherwise!
When I first heard what President Obama said (in 2009 in a Turkish press conference) that “we [Americans] do not consider ourselves a Christian nation,” my spirit quickened and the Holy Spirit brought to mind Caiaphus, the high priest of Jesus’ day.
John 11:47-52 records that Caiaphus prophesied Jesus’ death. “Now this he did not say on his own; but being high priest that year he prophesied”. It was because of the position he held that the Spirit prophesied through him, not because he was a prophet, or even a godly man.
I believe Obama’s statement was prophetic. And this isn’t the first time I have felt he has (unknowingly) made prophetic statements over our nation. Such ability to prophesy has nothing to do with Obama the person; it has everything to do with Obama the President. Many presidents, kings/queens, and prime ministers throughout history have been led to prophesy simply because of their position.
So, if America does not consider herself a Christian nation, what does that mean for the Christians? What is our responsibility?
I started out by examining Jesus’ life on earth. Keep in mind, Jesus lived in a very politically volatile society. There were the Jewish Temple politicians, the Pharisees and Sadducee s and their government. There was the monarchy of (evil) Judean kings and their government. There were the Jewish rebel factions fighting a guerrilla war for their various beliefs. And over all of this, trying to keep everything from flying apart, was the mighty Roman empire, the Caesar. There were Roman governors, Roman military, and of course, Roman tax collectors.
Each group had its own political agenda, with plenty of infighting and shaky alliances between them. The situation was so bad the first thought Jesus’ followers had was, “He has finally come to set things straight! Hallelujah!” They were confused and disappointed when Jesus told them, “My kingdom is not of this world”.
In fact, in spite of the political situation around him, Jesus never preached politics. Instead, he stayed focused on his mission – the advancement of the kingdom of God. The transient kingdoms of this world were not Jesus’ (or any of the Apostles’) focus.
Some argue that Jesus wasn’t politically involved because he couldn’t vote. By contrast, we should be because we can.
Nothing Jesus did showed him to be a person careful of his public image. He was an extremely bold and controversial figure in his day. He could have exhorted people to rise up against the evil government. Many expected him to. But he didn’t. He preached the kingdom of God, the truths of repentance, righteousness, holiness, and justice. His message was to the individual heart, not the government.
The problem today is that too many in church are Americans first and Christians second.
As a nation, Americans are quite egocentric. I read a good newspaper editorial recently that pointed this out. For example, if talks break down between two middle-eastern nations, we immediately ascribe it to something our President did or didn’t do. If a nation experiences social turbulence, we immediately credit American influence at some level. We tend to see everything that happens on the international stage as developments of decisions we have made, policies we have enacted, stands we have taken, videos we have posted to YouTube.
While America does have world influence, I don’t believe it is any longer as great as many Americans assume.
Now, just wipe that foam off your mouth. I am not an anti-patriot. But this idea that we as a nation are so important, so powerful, indispensable to the world and to God, is nothing more than pride.
Just as God is no respecter of persons, I believe He is no respecter of nations. It is those who fear Him and work righteousness who are accepted by Him. America does not get some type of “free pass” simply because of her godly origins. The only nation that could possibly make a Biblical case for any sort of special consideration in God’s eyes would be Israel.
I bring all this up to point out how this egocentricity of American culture has been carried right into the American church pew and made itself at home.
American Christians mistakenly believe that not only are most world events ultimately developments of this nation’s actions, but also most national events are developments of the church’s actions – results of something the church is or is not doing right.
Christians pray, they vote, they fight, all to uphold this struggling society on God’s behalf. They lament when ungodly men and women take office because they blame ungodly laws for corrupting the land. But I take a different view. Wicked governments do not make wicked nations, wicked nations make wicked governments.
It is not about a battle for righteous laws, it is about righteous hearts.
I thank the Lord for those believers He has called into political office and activity. I thank Him for all those He has appointed to administer justice and hold back evil for the sake of His name and His people. But God is not depending on American believers to save the USA any more than he depends on Iraqi or Saudi or Chinese believers to save their respective nations.
And I don’t believe God holds America in some special esteem; He loves His people. It doesn’t matter which geographical nation your body lives in; when you were born again you became a citizen of “a holy nation, a peculiar people.” That is the nation He loves.
So, back to the original question. Do Christians have a spiritual obligation to vote?
In this, as in everything, you are to be led by the Holy Spirit. He may tell you to vote. At other times He may not. Seek Him to find out. Be salt and light as the Lord directs. And never make the mistake of assuming that just because someone ungodly takes office and a nation suffers judgment that God’s hand is not in it.
God cares about the affairs of men, and He does intervene when called upon; but He is no more interested in establishing a human government on the earth right now than he was in Jesus’ day. His kingdom is not of this world. He blesses the nations and individuals who follow His ways and judges those who don’t. But neither choice affects His sovereignty, or the ultimate success of His purposes, in the slightest.
Regardless of what happens in the American political arena, stay focused on the kingdom you are an eternal citizen of, the kingdom of God. Work to advance that kingdom. Everything else is just temporary.
- Christian Nation? Really? (shawnwilson.wordpress.com)