On November 3 our nation will head for the polls during a national election. Millions have already cast their vote either through the mail or by early voting. Following are a few pastoral thoughts as we approach the election.
Christ was active and present in the work of creation. “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…’”-Genesis 1:26 He entered this world to live a perfect life for you. He bore your sin as His own all the way to the blessed cross to die in your place and then victoriously rise from the dead on the third day to give you eternal life. Because of His work you are free – to help and serve your neighbor in love.
Christ is still in charge of this world. He rules in two camps; through the State (God’s Left Hand Kingdom) and through the Church (God’s Right Hand Kingdom). The aim and goal of Christ’s rule through the State is justice. The aim and goal of Christ’s work through His Church is mercy.
The State’s primary source of rule and authority is through the Law found in the conscience. The State establishes laws based on what is right motivated by the guiding principle to “do no harm.” The State must only punish those who have broken the law. The Church’s only source of rule and authority is the Gospel. Our guiding principle, “love covers a multitude of sins.”
In our representative republic elected individuals represent the citizen body and exercise power according to the rule of law under the constitution. We elect people to serve in office and through their work they establish laws, and work on our behalf.
As citizens, we have the privilege to exercise our right to vote every two years. If we are in favor of the work our representatives are doing we re-elect them. If we believe they have failed we vote them out of office. We follow the laws for a good conscience and for fear of the consequences of breaking the law. For this reason we are obligated to give respect, honor and pay our taxes. (This is all spelled out in Romans 13)
As Christians we also pray for our leaders so that we can live in peace and be about the business of gossiping the Gospel; serving God and our neighbor in love. This is what Paul spells out in his letter to Timothy – “I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving be offered for everyone — for kings and all those in authority—so that we may lead tranquil and quiet lives in all godliness and dignity.”-1Timothy 2:1-2
The State has no business ruling the Church and the Church has no business running the State. Asking the government to help your church is like asking Caesar for really good seats at the Coliseum – and we know how that went. For this reason; as an example, we do not receive State vouchers at Wyneken. It is the Church’s school so we pay our own way. This is why we sing the hymn, “Praise to the Almighty my soul adore Him” at least once a month as we enter an election cycle. Stanza two simply reads:
Earth-born they are and soon decay.
Vain are their counsels at life's last portal,
When the dark grave engulfs its prey.
Since mortals can no help afford,
Place all your trust in Christ, our Lord.
All this said, I cannot nor will I tell you how to vote. My only encouragement is for you to be as informed concerning the issues as possible and to vote your conscience. Do not be afraid to speak your mind.
The societal issues we are facing are numerous. I’m old enough to have lived through the turbulent 1960’s. These issues have not fully been resolved so they still linger.
As Christians we are given to pray. I’ve include some below.
A prayer for our nation: Almighty God, You have given us this good land as our heritage. Grant that we remember Your generosity and constantly do Your will. Bless our land with honest industry, truthful education, and an honorable way of life. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion, from pride and arrogance, and from every evil course of action.
Grant that we, who came from many nations with many different languages, may become a united people. Support us in defending our liberties, and give those to whom we have entrusted the authority of government the spirit of wisdom, that there may be justice and peace in our land. When times are prosperous, may our hearts be thankful, and in troubled times do not let our trust in you fail.
For Good Government: Eternal Lord, Ruler of all, graciously regard those who have been set in positions of authority among us that they may be guided by your Spirit, be high in purpose, wise in counsel, firm in good resolution, and unwavering in duty, that under them we may be governed quietly and peaceably; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
For Responsible Citizenship: Lord, keep this nation under your care. Bless the leaders of our land that we may be a people at peace among ourselves and a blessing to the other nations of the earth. Help us provide trustworthy leaders, contribute to wise decisions for the general welfare, and thus serve you faithfully in our generation to the honor of your holy name;; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
And least we forget, 26 November, we will celebrate yet another National Thanksgiving.
Collect for Thanksgiving–Almighty God, Your mercies are new every morning and Your generously provide for all our needs of body and soul. Grant us Your Holy spirit that we may acknowledge Your goodness, give thanks for Your benefits, and serve You in willing obedience all our days.Collect for the Harvest – Almighty God, Your crown the fields with Your blessing and permit us to gather in the fruits of the earth. As stewards of Your creation, may we receive Your gifts in humble thankfulness and share Your bounty with those in need; through Jesus Christ our Lord.