Throughout my time, both as a follower of Jesus, and especially as a leader of other followers of Jesus, I have felt a pressure to engage my beliefs and convictions into the political system. Just as there is a, perceived by some, moral formula to how live my life as a follower, there is also a, perceived by some, moral formula guiding how followers of Jesus should vote.
In my part of the world, as in many parts in the States, there is a political referendum on the ballot this time around of the sorts that can tend to blur the lines of politics and faith. So it goes without saying that well meaning and not so well meaning people on both sides of the issue have distinct views where one should take their moral stand. As a leader of a community of people who follow Jesus, I’ve been asked by other leaders of neighboring faith communities to publicly make a stand in a published letter to the editor in the local print media. That’s a given on any issue of this sort. One side had a specific view on how I personally should vote and how I should “encourage” (ie., coerce, guilt, shame, …) those I lead to vote. The problem is this; there are just as many leaders of Jesus followers who have signed, and encouraged me to sign, a letter stating the total opposite view on the issue. Two groups, two opinions, but one God…. How does this resolve itself?
I’m not an expert, but in stepping back here is what I have concluded. First of all, the issue at hand, as in all of the rest, has multiple sides to it from a faith issue. On one side, we have a life style choice being challenged, and I do feel that the Book of Books does have something to say on the matter. This is not always a popular choice with one camp of people who follow Jesus. On the other hand, I do also feel that the Book of Books has much to say on love and respect and how, as people created Imago Dei (in the image of God) we are all worthy of these things no matter what our opinion may be of choices, one side or the other. This leaves me in a place between, removed from the Christmas card lists of both camps…..whatever.
Here’s the thing…. I am absolutely going to vote. I am absolutely not going to tell anyone how I will vote as a follower of Jesus, nor will I tell them how they should vote. I have been called to lead a group of people into the greater mission of God, far beyond our personal views, country and state objectives, and general moral dilemma of the day. I have not been appointed as a representative or political delegate to the people of my congregation. I am fully aware that this statement in and of itself is enough to gather enough disdain from both sides. That’s fine by me. I have a sign positioned as I leave my office that reminds me to “stand up for what’s right, even if I’m standing alone”. As a follower of Jesus and a leader of followers of Jesus, if I am to be faithful to His teachings contained in the Book of Books, I could lead from either direction. I have always believed that if you can’t win, then you do what’s right. So the best anyone will get from me is the admonition to vote, not from your own self conviction, but with the lead of the best counselor we have, God’s Holy Spirit.