Disclaimer: If, by this title, you are expecting that I’m going to tell you who to vote for or even what to think about specific issues, please know that I will do neither. If, as you read this, you feel like I’m telling you who to vote for or what to think about a specific issue, please re-read what you just read…because that’s not what this article is about.
It’s 2016, a new calendar year, a particular kind of calendar year at that, a presidential election year. Yippee! Or not! Some people love presidential election years because they are full of the hope and promise of something new OR something staying the same; it all depends on what you’re hoping for. Other people dislike presidential election years because these years feature a ton of political ads, non-stop political rhetoric, more muckraking (yes, it’s a word) than many people care for, few news stories about other worthwhile topics, and a great deal of tension between hard-liners on each end of the political continuum.
Whether or not you like or dislike election years, whether or not you are liberal or conservative, whether or not you are Republican or Democrat or some other party or independent, I’ve got a few pastoral words for you this presidential election year. I’ll share one in this article and add a few more throughout the year.
First and foremost, when it comes to your political identity, try to make sure it flows forth from your Christian identity (and not the other way around.) I’m guessing that last sentence will be read by conservatives and liberals, alike, with thoughts that I’m pushing the agenda of the other side, but I’m not. I’m simply suggesting that when it comes to choosing the issues that matter for you, let those issues be informed and even shaped by your understanding of God and Jesus, whatever that understanding may be. I’ve known plenty of people who are absolutely on fire for Christ who let that fire lead them to support the Democrats, and I’ve known plenty of people who are absolutely on fire for Christ who let that fire lead them to support the Republicans. In my estimation, it’s the fire for Christ that is important. Jesus did not encourage us to have split identities: one identity in our private lives and another identity in our public/political lives. He encouraged us to have one identity in Him. Plus, when our identities in Christ are left out of the public/political arena, the Christian voice gets left out of the public discourse, and, believe me, that vacuum WILL be filled by something else. Do you want that?
Happy presidential election year! – Pastor Brad