Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day Advice … WWJD?

This week the people of the United States will select a President, and others to represent them in D.C., and their state and local capitals.  The words of that sentence were chosen carefully.  Most people believe we choose leaders when we vote, but we don’t – we hire politicians to represent us. 

The US constitution begins with the words: “We the people,” and President Lincoln described our nation as one “of the people, by the people and for the people.”  That means that we are a nation led by its own citizens.  We are the leaders – and now we’re looking to hire someone to do a job for us. 

In Paul’s letter to the church of Christ in Rome he contends that government authority comes from God, and that God establishes a nation’s leaders … as His minister (deacon/servant), for good  (Romans 13).  If Paul is right, then according to our constitution, “we the people” are the leaders of the USA – established by God!  That means it’s our responsibility to govern well, and that our responsibility is ordained by God, and it is an act of worship. 

So, Christian leader – how do you choose someone to represent you (as an American) to the world?  Remember: we are not choosing someone to represent the Kingdom – we already have a King.  And our primary citizenship is in that kingdom. (Philippians 3.20)  We are merely selecting a representative for the temporary earthly nation called the US. 

First, go back and read Romans 13 again, and see what function God wants the government to serve:  
“It is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil”
To put this in modern terms, God is using earthly governments to serve as law enforcement and military.  Strong, just courts, a just and effective penal system, and a strong and fair military – these are things God wants. 

Does that mean God wants only those things?  Does it mean God is opposed to government sponsored social programs or education or disaster relief?  This is debatable among honest people.  Some would say that if God specifically mentions some things, all others are excluded.  Others would say that if God didn’t say there’s nothing wrong with it … then it is allowed. 

But I will add this: many times in scripture God makes it clear that He expects social justice (aid for poor, orphans, widows, education, etc) to be the responsibility of the individual child of God.  That means it’s my job – and yours - to care for them.  But (as far as I know), He does not say how to accomplish this, only to make sure it gets done.  So if you see the US as an effective distributor of your talents for social good, then that is surely fine.  If you are doing better - or your church, neighborhood or other groups are doing better than the government, then vote accordingly.  (Notice I say ‘are’ doing better – not ‘can’ do better.  Lots of people can do better than the government, but many actually do nothing at all)

Second, consider the capability of the people you hire to do this enormous job.  Yes, it’s just an earthly nation, and not nearly as big a deal as God’s Kingdom, but it matters.  Earthly nations start and end wars, they take money from the pockets of Christians and redistribute it, and they have a huge impact on the lives of billions.  So let’s be wise about our choice, and not be foolish. 

Remember that we are not picking leaders, we are electing representatives … hiring someone to do a job.  So it’s as if you had the job … will this person do what you would do?  That’s hard, because the choices we have are between politicians.  It goes without saying they are dishonest.  Both Presidential candidates in this election, for instance, have shown themselves to be very loose with the truth.  (Even though they both claim to be Christians, and simultaneously are deceptive … neither are capable of representing the our Lord in any remotely reasonable way)
So you must listen less to what they say – and pay more attention to what they actually do – their record.  Remember that our Lord said, “You will know them by their fruits.”  He was talking about false teachers, but the same principle applies.  He also said, “Wisdom is proved right by her children.”  Or, as the popular saying goes, “actions speak louder than words.”  This cannot be stressed enough.  All their words, speeches, ads and debates amount to nothing.  This is true, even for the guy you like!  They must ALL be considered to be dishonest.  After all … how many candidates do you know who are committed, true, hard-core disciples of Jesus?  I cannot name one, or even imagine one. 

So … test their actions!  Examine their records, and ask a simple question: did they actually do what they said they’d do?  Did Romney do in Mass. what he promised?  Did Obama end the war in Iraq when he said he would, or end the war in Afghanistan, or reduce troops, or close “Getmo” or repair the US economy, or make peace with conservatives as he promised?  It should be obvious that neither of them has done what they promised.  But which one came closer?  Which candidate shows the most promise for giving us opportunities as disciples of Jesus and soldiers in the kingdom?

Finally … remember these words of Solomon:

He cuts off his own feet and drinks violence who sends a message by the hand of a fool.
Like one who binds a stone in a sling, so is he who gives honor to a fool.
Like an archer who wounds everyone, so is he who hires a fool….
     Proverbs 26:6, 8, 10

The President is our representative … we send our message through him.  We honor him, and we hire him.  Hiring a fool to be President is hiring an archer with a quiver full of nuclear bombs instead of arrows.  He will be a man with power over trillions of dollars of debt and the future of your children.  Pay attention to the record, and choose wisely – or leave it to those who will take the time to make an informed decision and govern wisely and - stay at home.  Not voting is better than voting foolishly. (Proverbs 17.28) 

This is our diakonos (service, ministry) to God as leaders of the USA. 

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