Pastor Jeff’s Response to the 2016 Elections
A few weeks ago I decided to address the 2016 elections. I really did not want to do this because I do not believe the pulpit should be used as a political platform. When I announced to the congregation I was going to break my personal policy and address the issues, they erupted in applause. During difficult times I think people expect their Pastors to give them spiritual guidance and direction, and, this is definitely “difficult times.” However, rather than do what many of my fellow Pastors have done in the past, I did not publish a Voter’s Guide nor did I emphasize one candidate over the other. I simply described the manner in which a Christ follower would approach any election. He would do his research on each candidate and his/her individual beliefs and practices. He would ask himself if the candidate to whom he has decided to give support will uphold basic Christian values. He/She would most definitely vote his/her conscience. Finally, he or she would pray for whomever is elected into office.
I was not surprised when I received emails from both sides asking how in the world I could even think about supporting anyone other than ____________. Whether Democrat or Republican, each believed his/her candidate to be the only Godly choice. Once again I was reminded of how neither side is listening to the other. Both claimed their candidate upheld the morality of Jesus but neither truly understood the other’s position. While I too have a particular bent toward one candidate, I can assure you that in this election I can not confidently stand next to either one. This indeed is a vote by process of elimination or as I have heard other Pastors say, “a vote for the lesser of two evils.”
Regardless of the road you choose, Christians must never forget three fundamental truths.
1. Whoever is elected is elected by a Sovereign move of the hand of God (Romans 13). The real question we should be asking is, “What kind of a leader does America need in this season?” What kind of man or woman will turn the heart of our nation back to God? He/She may be a man or woman who leads so poorly that we soon discover the ramifications of a leader who removes God from the public arena. Perhaps then and only then will we turn back to God. Or, perhaps God will send us someone whose character and integrity compel us to truly evaluate ourselves and suddenly, through serious introspection, we begin to see our true condition and our undeniable dependence on God. Both conviction and correction are powerful tools used by God in the past and will be used again in the future.
Whatever the route God chooses, as believers living in an unbelieving world, we are commanded to pray for those in authority (I Timothy 2:1-4). What then shall we pray? Pray that God will open the President’s eyes to where real power and authority resides. Pray that God will place people around our next President who will intercede and plead on behalf of the unborn and the unloved. Should we not expect that God will send a righteous man or woman into the circles of power and influence as He did with Joseph/Pharaoh or Esther/Xerxes? He has done it in the past, He can do it in the future.
In a Democracy decisions are made by various committees and representatives. It is because of this that Winston Churchill said, “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all other forms of government.” All governments are flawed because all governments feature “man” at the top. At least in a Democracy, the people are ruled by more than one man. We need to be praying that God will surround our next president with an Esther or a Joseph “for such a time as this.”
2. We need to forever remember that while we are citizens of this wonderful Country we call America, our ultimate citizenship, hope, and trust is in another kingdom and we eagerly await a Savior from there. Some of us are weeping because we love our nation and we feel that we are seeing it crumble before our very eyes. We are not the first to feel this way and we will not be the last. America has been down this road of narcissism and individualism before and she will most assuredly be back this way again. Time is neither chaotic nor linear. Solomon wrote:
The wind blows to the south
and turns to the north;
round and round it goes,
ever returning on its course.
All streams flow into the sea,
yet the sea is never full.
To the place the streams come from,
there they return again.
What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
Just as the history of the nation of Israel was indeed cyclical, so also is the history of our world. History repeats itself again and again and again. From blessings to arrogance to disobedience to judgment to prayer and repentance, Israel seemed never to learn the lesson of what life is truly like without God.
Yet, the Hebrews are simply a foreshadowing of every nation which begins under theonomous rule and deteriorates toward an autonomous one. We seem to start well, “One nation under God,” but immediately begin drifting away forgetting that following and obeying God’s precepts and God’s willingness to open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing on us, are inextricably tied together. Instead, wanting to break away from the shackles of His precepts, forgetting that before we remove a fence perhaps we should ask why it was placed there in the first place, we go our own way until finally God hands us over to our depravity and allows us to experience the futility of life without Him. Whoever is elected this coming week will serve God in one of two ways. He/She will turn the ship back toward the values that made this country what it is today, or, he/she will continue down the present path toward a futility that will one day soon bring us to the end of the cycle where we finally drop to our knees, repent, and call on the name of the Lord. Either way, God will accomplish His purposes.
3. Let us remember that we are the salt and light of the earth. We are a different kind of people. We love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5). We do not engage in vitriol or hate on Facebook or any other type of social media. We season our speech with kindness, mercy, and forgiveness. We discuss our views positively but we do so with a type of love and mercy that becomes contagious to all who meet us.
And so we pray for our nation,
Pastor Jeff Vines spent twenty years on the mission field (Zimbabwe, New Zealand) planting churches and training leaders. From 1998-2005 he was the featured speaker on the weekly television broadcast, “Questions of Life,” and frequently debated agnostic and atheist alike on national radio. For two years Jeff served as the Teaching Pastor at Savannah Christian Church in Savannah, GA. On January 1, 2008, Jeff became the Lead Pastor of Christ’s Church of the Valley. Jeff is the author of Dinner with SKEPTICS: Defending God in a World that Makes No Sense (2008, 2011) and the newly released Unbroken: 8 Enduring Promises God Will Keep (2012). Jeff and his wife, Robin, celebrated their 30th anniversary in July of 2016 and have two children, Delaney and Sian.