From the Pastor

Dear friends,

Early voting opened this week in North Carolina, so I thought it’d be appropriate to tell you how to vote.

Yeah, right.

No doubt, voting in the US is a remarkable privilege. According to Quora, only 44 percent of the world’s countries are liberal democracies, which means that less than 50 percent conduct truly “free” elections. What we’ve learned over time is that people living in liberal democracies have, on average, a much higher level of education, per capita income, and good health. Furthermore, liberal democracies tend to be defined by stability, fair(er?) court systems, and a free press. Simply put, freedom promotes greater income potential and better standards of living.

We know that. Data doesn’t lie. And yet only 45 percent of eligible voters in the US will cast a ballot in this year’s election.

Um, does that make sense? Not really, but, as they say, “it is what it is.”

So rather than telling you WHO to vote for, I’ll make a simpler plea: Get out there, friends, and vote. It’s your right and responsibility.

But do so with something in mind: Voting will not save us. Only Jesus will.

Here’s what I mean. When God invited us into community with one another (think Adam and Eve), he mandated that we actively care for one another (think Garden of Eden) and the kingdoms of this world (think “Proclaim repentance and forgiveness to all the world,” Jesus said), while recognizing that these systems of power can do nothing but curb our sin and create a pathway towards a semblance of liberation, justice, and freedom. Some worldly kingdoms do a better job of that than others (think US versus Yemen), but none will ever be perfect at it. At the end of the day, the kingdoms of this world will never be able to heal the world or save us from ourselves.

So why bother with politics at all? Why not opt out altogether? Because doing so fails to acknowledge God’s potential work through governments, public affairs, and leaders of this world. Further, scripture is all-too-clear that we are to be servants of all, actively seeking the welfare of others. This means playing a role in maintaining earthly peace and promoting a greater sense of stability and justice for all.

When you choose not to vote, you deny both truths about God.

So … who should we vote for? Are some candidates better than others? Are some more “Christian” than others? Well, that’s hard to answer.

What I’d suggest is something shared with me by Ken Chitwood when asked about the perfect candidate: “Don’t fall into the temptation of thinking there is a perfect Christian candidate, a flawless Christian platform, or a one-size-fits-all way to vote like a Christian. Vote according to your understanding of the scriptural imperatives, your own creative conscience, and your own personal passions of freedom, liberty, and justice that God has called you to. But know that you will not make a perfect choice. Nor will I.”

Martin Luther said something similar to Philip Melanchthon in a letter dated 1521. At that point in time, Luther had no concept of modern-day democracy or free elections, but he wrote as if he did. Be a voter, he may as well have said, and let your votes be strong, “but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world. We will commit sin while we are here, for this life is not a place where perfect justice resides, which is why we must look forward to a new heaven and a new earth where ultimate peace and justice will reign.”

Bottom line: get out there and vote.

Thanks for your good work in the garden, friends. I’ll see you in church.

+Pastor Rhodes


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