By Pastor Jamey VanGelder
I am amazed at the identity crisis I fall into each political season. The political commercials get me feeling strong emotions against candidates. The media gets me angry about issues so I vote out of emotion. And truth be told it isn’t the liberal media using this technique alone. Conservative media uses my religious values to persuade my vote as well. I don’t know about you but It leaves me confused and frustrated. Which hat will I be wearing the day I vote? Am I a Christian voting today? Am I a pastor voting? Father? Concerned citizen? Patriot? Am I voting based off of my values for an issue? All the pressure and hassle can drive a person to not want to vote at all. So let’s cut to the chase and bring some clarity…
As a Christian my job is to live a life in relationship to the God of Heaven. The word Christian literally means “little Christ” or a person just like Jesus. And Jesus was not for or against political ideals. Christianity has existed under all forms of political rule and will continue to do so. Voting is not the duty of a Christian. When someone says that all christians need to get out there and vote, they are appealing to my value system to support their view. Or if someone makes a statement which causes me to feel guilty for voting a certain way. That is just weird. I don’t vote because I am a Christian. I vote because I am a citizen of this nation. The choice to vote or not vote does not make me a bad Christian. However, it may mean I’m an irresponsible citizen.
My vote is not determining whether America will become God’s nation again. Let’s be clear about something. When Jesus died on the cross two thousand years ago He purchased the planet; that included America. By voting to put a Christ follower in office doesn’t mean this nation belongs to God or is turning to God. The spiritual ownership of America has never been in question. He bought it a long time ago. It’s not for sale. What my vote is doing however, is determining what type of nation I want to live in during my short stay here on earth, and what type of government I want ruling over me. It is determining what type of nation I want my kids to grow up in and raise grandchildren in. And the choice is mine to make.
As a father my job is to secure a positive future for my children and grandchildren. Because I live in a nation that allows me to participate in building that future, I am going to exercise that right to the best of my ability. I want to see my kids have a future in a nation that is prosperous and provides freedom for them to become all that God has made them to be. Because of this, I care deeply about the issues candidates are representing. And I will vote according to which one presents the best future for my kids and this nation.
As a pastor my job is to mentor, disciple, and lead people to be followers of Jesus. As a pastor I don’t preach on politics, not because it’s against the law. I don’t preach on politics because Jesus didn’t preach on politics. Jesus’ ministry was under a Roman Empire that would eventually exterminate Christians. He had ample opportunity to speak to the subject of poor government, and yet He held his tongue.
My values as a Christian may persuade me to agree more with one candidate over another. Perhaps even feel passionate towards them. And this is an ok thing to have happen, even normal. However, this is where I see people cross the line into thinking that they are voting for “God’s Candidate.” This can cause division and judgement towards people and causes me to demonize opposing candidates. It’s ok for me to be passionate about my values and take stands for them. I just don’t pretend that I am doing what God would do. I own my convictions and will vote accordingly.
And lastly, I won’t be asking God who to vote for. That would be abdicating my personal responsibility to govern and try to make God responsible for stewarding my vote. It was God who gave Adam the authority to govern the earth in the very beginning of creation and He has not taken that authority back. It is human being’s responsibility to govern. So I own the responsibility. I will make a conscience choice as to which political system I want to live under. I will look at the issues carefully and choose whom I think represents my ideals better. Then I will Vote! I am so thankful I live in a nation which gives me the opportunity to vote for who I think will do the best job at leading.
All that to say this, Go out and vote! Not because you are a christian, not because you are angry and not because someone told you to. Go out and vote because you are powerful and you are playing an active role in forming our nation for the next generation. I am a patriot who has served and loves this nation. I am also a christian and pastor who loves the Lord. I don’t have any confusion about the roles of each. When I cast my vote this election it will be as Jamey VanGelder a responsible private citizen. I encourage you to do the same.
Read more at http://www.jameyvangelder.com!