It’s election time…and I feel compelled as a pastor to once again reiterate two important things that Christians should remember going to the polls.
1. The number one problem America faces is not a problem of leadership, but a problem of citizenship. By all means, go vote! It’s your responsibility as a citizen.
2. But when you go vote, do not go thinking you are voting for any messiahs. There’s only one messiah and He visits us regularly in the Divine Service every Sunday.
And if you are one of the myriad of Americans who think our leaders are failing us, do note that our leadership is a reflection of our citizenry. The expectation that any leader will be the messiah is our number one fault as citizens.
Of course, you may correctly argue, politicians want us to think they are the messiah. Remember 2008?
Yes, but as Christians, we should know better. Our leaders need more from us than our votes. They need our prayers. They need our best efforts at keeping the 8th commandment (a commandment politics and the media all but ignores).
In short, they need us to be good citizens too. Those responsibilities don’t end the day after election day. It’s not like the one way we can be citizens is by voting and then we can go back to castigating our leaders for not living up to our expectations when we voted for them. This would not be God-pleasing.
Sure, as Christians we do want leaders who uphold and defend our right to worship freely and who do not make our allegiance to the nation/state higher than our allegiance to our God. There are many concerns on the issues that matter to Christians. We want them to uphold life and to protect the rights of all…including the unborn.
I’m talking about the bigger picture. Christians have lived under pagan rulers for centuries. How did they do it? By learning to dance with them. How did the early church come to convert the Roman emperors? By avoiding them?
All leader/citizen or leader/member or leader/follower relationships are about learning to dance together. Even husbands and wives who have loved each other for many years have to learn how to dance together when they go to dance classes. Politics, organizational health, yes, even church health, is about learning that dance. In any situation where there is a leader, both the leader and the “follower” have to learn to do their roles well and work together for the sake of the dance.
Sadly, many American citizens quit dancing once they cast their vote. In the end, there’s much more we can do as citizens than we let on. It may be easier to blame our leaders for all our troubles. (After all, it’s always easier to blame the other person in all our personal troubles, too). But when we go to the polls tomorrow, I hope we’re asking another question besides who is the best candidate.
How can I be a better citizen for the good of my neighbor and my country?
Lord, bless our nation and help us all, leaders and citizens alike, to be responsible to one another. AMEN.