Happy New Year friends!
As we begin a new fiscal year, we ought to be voting upon new nominated officers, new Deacons, and a new budget. Alas, in the era of the “socially distant” Church, we’ll have to await safer days when we can hold a church-wide meeting. We will, however, as citizens of this temporal, lesser kingdom – well, constitutional republic – vote in the days ahead. As a public policy analyst [class of 2009; go Tar Heels!], I am always fairly closely tuned to the political goings on during seasons like this. As someone with an ideological bent more closely aligned with libertarianism than anything, I laugh at, and sharply critique, the ridiculous actions and words of many partisans. As a follower of Jesus, it breaks my heart to see folks treat their neighbors so poorly. It also breaks my heart to see millions of fellow countrymen genuinely place their hope in a political party – or even an individual – as a source of salvation.
I love to analyze fiscal and monetary policies, foreign policies, immigration issues, domestic social policies, legislation, and court rulings. After all, our systems are extremely complex, our elections are multi-faceted, and our opinions should be thoughtful and nuanced. I would, humbly, ask you to consider two issues as more important than others in our political decision-making. First, always consider the issue of religious liberty. We live in an increasingly anti-Christian culture, where the freedom to practice our faith continues to be targeted for attack. Second, and much more importantly, I ask you to consider the issue of abortion. I have said from our pulpit, and will continue to declare that whether or not abortion is made illegal “our goal should be to make abortion obsolete.” That being said, I will always advocate for laws and policies aimed to hem-in this scourge. How anyone can genuinely advocate for these heinous procedures at any time, through any method, and claim to be a follower of Jesus is beyond me. I would rather support a pro-life communist than someone who thinks partial-birth abortion could ever be excused as “ethical”.
Let me also say that the “God-is-a-Republican” crowd is alive and well in our denomination and beyond, and let me caution you against this alignment. Folks that used to be evangelical leaders have ceded their role in advancing the Kingdom of God, making charlatans of themselves, and instead taken up a role in advancing a political party’s agenda. As a pastor, I am infuriated by men who stand in the Lord’s pulpits and throw away their credibility by devolving themselves into partisan mouth-pieces. True children of the Most High ought never be defenders of foul speech and apologists for ungodly leadership, making excuses for wicked behavior. May God have mercy on me if I ever go on television and so poorly tarnish my witness.
As citizens of God’s Kingdom, we ought to be the best citizens this kingdom – constitutional republic – has. Let me remind you that in North Carolina, the dead line to register to vote is October 9. We ought to educate ourselves. I have a very helpful non-partisan, Christian voter guide; this is particularly helpful for “down ballet” races. Please contact me, and I’ll be happy to get it to you. I am convinced that only about 20% of Americans are voting FOR anyone, and though I would like nothing more than to forego voting altogether in several of these races, I would regret even more to discard this precious right. In addition to being responsible and informed, let me encourage you with this: our hope it not in an individual – or even a party – in this world. Our hope rests in an eternal King of kings, who is uniquely capable of saving souls, transforming individuals, societies, cultures, and nations. I have taken great pride in the fact that Democrats and Republicans can sit on the same pew and worship together in our church every Sunday. May we all remember that God honors our witness, when we keep second-, third-, and fourth-level issues in their proper perspective and remain unified around the main thing. My hope is that our witness will be even stronger across our community in the days ahead, showing a divided society that our focus is on things above!
Our fathers’ God, to Thee, Author of liberty, to Thee we sing;
long may our land be bright with freedom’s holy light,
protect us by Thy might, great God our King!