by: Rev. Ed Schneider
We are very shortly arriving at another election cycle throughout the American political system of governing. Within each election cycle, whether it is local, state, or national, Christians from every sector of American society raise their three-headed monster on display for all the world to experience. The three headed monster I am referring to are three basic categories of Christian thought or involvement within governmental or public policy issues:
- the Fearful Faithful,
- the Apathetic All-Stars, and
- the “Let’s Take over the World” for Jesus crowd.
Our country is so fractured by competing voices of opinions that many people from every part of our society, even Christians are getting lost, tossed, or bullied toward voting for policies, procedures, or people they know little about. Because of this sometimes overwhelming aspect of our voting system many people, even Christians, have tuned out and turned off their participation in the practical process of getting involved with decisions regarding public governance.
The “Fearful Faithful” say Christians shouldn’t get involved, the “Let’s Take Over” crowd says we should be running the country and of course the “Apathetic All-Stars” say, “Why get involved? Nothing ever changes… just different faces.”
Let’s take a closer look at not only our three categories of stereotypical Christian involvement, but also what the Bible leads us to understand.
First, we have the “Fearful Faithful.” They won’t get involved because it would draw attention to them. They may feel that their Christian faith is a purely private activity and bringing their faith journey into the realm of public policy or the choosing of a candidate would expose them to ridicule.
The second category is the “Apathetic All-Stars.” From my perspective, this is the hardest one to rationalize. Although lukewarm Christians are certainly referred to in the Bible as being possible, it also implies that it is seriously unlikely to be factual. Those claiming to be Christians who barely seem to live within the normal course of everyday life can’t possibly represent the healthy and vibrant example of what Christ gave his life for 2000 years ago
Then there is the third category; the “Let’s Take Over the World” for Jesus crowd. They are definitely not week or dispassionate. Although mostly authentic in their intentions, the “let’s take over the world for Jesus” crowd more often than not scares me and many others for good reason. This “take over” crowd has dramatically lost the foundational concept of “winning souls” for Christ while exchanging it for “imposing Christ” on others.
Our Bibles are replete with the message of getting involved with the world around us; it shares the basic understanding that we are to extend ourselves within the life of the community we live. Our Bibles tell us of a number of people who have gotten involved and made a difference, both good and bad.
- In the 15th chapter of 2 Samuel, it describes Absalom blatantly campaigning for the throne.
- In the four Gospels, it painfully describes Pilate’s attempt at gratifying the public’s clambering over the revolutionary Jesus even though he personally saw nothing worth condemning.
- There is the story of Zadoc, the priest, trying to positively influence the placement of the new king by being a public supporter of David.
- There is Nathan, The prophet of the Old Testament who in 1 Kings influences the election of David’s successor.
Women were also prominently acknowledged in this process of public policy in candidate election. Some of the many noteworthy examples of women would include:
- the “wise women ” of Abel (2 Samuel 20:16-22) who saved their city through diplomacy, or
- in 1 Kings where Bathsheba helps to secure the crown for Solomon.
- Mark 6:17-28 tells of how Herodias was constantly influencing the administration of Herod.
- And there is always the good old standby of influence pedaling by Momma Zebedee who tried very hard to make sure that her two boys, James and John, would be power-brokers in the future kingdom of Christ.
Like it or not…comfortable or not…the United States of America is a pluralistic society. We are now, and have always been, made up of many different kinds of people from many different points of view. There are Jews, Christians, Muslims, Mormons, agnostics, atheists, nature lovers, sports fanatics, lazy bums, and energetic entrepreneurs. There are men, women, young, old, experienced and novices everywhere you look. There are population centers with their own cultural distinctions from every corner, coast, and conclave throughout America. There are multi-generational Americans and brand new citizens.
Quite literally there are more than 300 languages spoken in the United States. Approximately 60 million people in the USA do not speak English in their homes. There are those who believe strongly about a number of issues as well as those who could care less about most things everyone else is excited about. In America there are folks who label themselves as deeply liberal or dramatically conservative. We even have folks who will vote for someone whom they strongly believe in, while others vote for an individual because they hate the other guy.
This country is made up of every degree of person, experience and opinion. In a pluralistic society, it’s an important reality that our diversity is a significant part of our overall strength. However, one of the worst things that can happen is when any of these intentionally competing or so socially interacting sections of America’s population remove themselves from the process of public policy discussions, personal interaction with others who are different from themselves and the foundation of our political election process.
Everyone, even Christians, have the privilege to express their views and preferences. Everyone, even Christians, are an important component of the cultural fabric that makes up this great nation. Everyone, including Christians, need to vote their “informed “conscience or stop complaining where the country is being directed unless they’re willing to do something about it. Everyone, even Christians, have the right to be heard and respected.
I’m not foolish enough to believe that all Christians will vote or think in the exact same manner. That would go directly against our human nature and the foundation of what a pluralistic society is all about.
The bible says…
14“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15 nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.…Matthew 5:14-15
Get involved, get informed. Make a decision and vote! Don’t be afraid. Vote! Don’t complain. Vote. Don’t stay home. Vote. And when you are done voting…..remember this….YOU BELONG TO CHRIST !