Over the last few weeks, some in our church fellowship have been looking to Scripture and discussing how a Christian should be involved in the political process in our country. What does it look like for a Christian to be a good citizen? How does a Christian approach a presidential election like the one we have before us this year? What are the issues that are really important? I have come to at least one conclusion. These questions defy easy answers. There has been so much vitriol – so many harsh words – and there are so many strong opinions. We’re all aware of the “gridlock” in Washington, and it is probably fair to say that our governmental processes are in need of serious repair. But how does a Christian wade through all of this and be both a faithful citizen of the United States, and also faithfully and graciously represent the Kingdom of God?
In preparation for these discussions at church, I have read from several different writers, and I would like to share the thoughts of one here now. These thoughts come from a pastor in Mansfield, Ohio named Mark Pierce.
“If I claim to be a Christ-follower, what should be my response to the presidential election? Paul’s letter to the church citizens in Rome tell us that we should submit to the winner. The reason given for this is a stunner! It won’t be because one side is more right than the other. Rather, our response of submission to the victor comes because “all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God” (Romans 13:1). In other words our response – our submission – is not a Republican or Democratic response, but a godly response. We should see our response not as to Mr. Obama or to Mr. Romney, but to the Lord God Himself.
When the election dust settles, let’s not worry so much about what the winning candidate will do or not do. Let us concern ourselves more about what we will do. Let us do what is right. Let us influence our neighbors and our leaders with our own good actions. Let our own activities of Christian love overcome the fear that wells up within us from the uncertainty of our future.
Our response as Christian citizens goes beyond submission and personal responsibility. I have searched Romans 13 thoroughly and have found no place where we are instructed to agree with all the positions of our newly elected president. We are, however, to give him the respect and honor of his office. We should respect and honor him not just because he will be our president. We give him respect and honor because he is God’s appointed authority. We give him respect and honor because God’s Word instructs us to do so. We give him respect and honor because that is the correct Christian response toward those who lead us.”
Sound words. Thought-provoking words! Convicting and challenging words! Especially convicting in light of yesterday being the annual observance of the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. We have brothers and sisters in Christ around this planet whose lives and livelihoods are at risk for no other reason than that they are Christians. Some are beaten, tortured, and imprisoned. Some are killed. Their suffering is great. I wonder what our persecuted brethren in southeast Asia or Africa or South America would say to us about the things we think are so vitally important. I believe they would have much to teach us . . .
So, on Tuesday we will vote. Maybe we’ll know the outcome by Wednesday. But my prayer is that the weeks and months and years ahead will find followers of Jesus living out their faith in unprecedented ways – doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God – regardless of who occupies the White House for the next four years.