Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Submitting to those placed in authority over us (Hebrews 13:17) - reflections on the election and our elected leaders.

This is a re-print of the article that I wrote to my congregation for the weekly  email newsletter. I don’t normally use the same article for both avenues, but since today is Election Day I was prompted to do so. I hope those of my congregation who bother to read my blog won’t mind.

In Hebrews 13:17 it states: Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.” I have always applied that verse not only to church leaders, but also to the elected political leaders thus raising the question as to how does a person honor the authority of those with whom one disagrees?

We are in the final days of a long – very long – political process. Hopefully, by this evening, or early tomorrow morning, we will know who the president and other elected leaders will be. Regardless of who wins, we should all work together for the sake of our country.

There are those who have already stated that if the president gets reelected they will do everything in their power to make sure that nothing he proposes gets done. These are the same individuals who committed themselves to make sure that he was going to be only a one-term president. I’m not sure how that thinking is going to heal our country or move it towards a better day. I’m sure if their candidate wins they will be expecting to receive cooperation from across the aisle.

My feelings came to the surface recently when I was asked if I was a Democrat or Republican. I responded, “Neither, I’m a Christian!” The individual didn’t know how to respond initially, but was quick to recover with, “Well, that means that you are a conservative and thus, a Republican.” To which I stated, “You are wrong on all accounts! I’m a Christian. I do not take sides – conservative or liberal. I choose to be in the ministry of reconciliation. As Christians we should go out of our way to bring people together. To do whatever we can to heal the divide that is so evident throughout our country.”

This is a change for me. Previously, I’ve taken sides using Facebook and emails to express those thoughts, but this year more than at any other time I’ve been haunted by what a Christian’s position should be in the middle of all this mess. One person stated that he votes based on one issue and only on one issue – period – end of story. And I thought, “How sad.” I didn’t know how to respond and if I did it would have only opened a debate. I was speechless as was the person mentioned earlier. He just stood there and shook his head … he too was speechless.

He was more speechless than the young female that turned to be and ask what my sign was. I knew what she was getting at, but I gave her the response that I have been giving for the last 12 years … “My sign is the sign of the Cross. I’m governed by the Grace of God and not by the movement of the planets. My horoscope is written in 66 books of the Old and New Testament.” She looked at me, kind of stunned, then smiled and shared, “Good answer!” ... and walked away singing a happy tune.

In short, we are in a position now more than ever to move the public dialogue in a total different direction … and hopefully, bringing about an entire new way of thinking. Oh, by the way, I think that it is a great way to witness to the truth that is within us! Yes, we need to take sides … actually we need to take only one side – God’s. Yes, we do need to vote based on the best information available, but once the nation has spoken then work with whoever is elected to heal the nation for the sake of all people.

And now for the task at hand – to pray not that one candidate wins over another, but rather that God will work in and through whoever wins to heal the country so that we can get on with the business of helping to heal the nations of the world … not as international policemen, but as people who worship a God who called us into being for a purpose … a divine purpose. 

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