Several years ago a friend of mine was running for political office. I volunteered to help his campaign by walking in a parade and passing out candy. Afterwards, I learned this upset some people in the church I was serving at. They did not feel it was right for me as a minister to participate in the campaign.
It was then I learned a valuable lesson...
Never use my influence for anyone but Jesus Christ.
I rarely talk about politics. It's not because I don't have an opinion or am embarrassed by what I believe. I choose not to talk about politics because I may lose an opportunity to speak with someone about Jesus.
Politics have become incredibly divisive in the United States of America. This saddens me because I love my country and I enjoy politics. I am fascinated with both the process of politics and the historical impact of politics.
What concerns me is how "extreme" each political party becomes when trying to characterize the opposition candidate. Obama becomes the "Obama-nation" and Romney will surely become "Mr. Rob-me." Paul Ryan loves to push old women in wheelchairs off cliffs, and Joe Biden... well, let's just leave the Vice President alone.
Because of this uncivil tone, our society is incapable of debating politics in a reasonable and dignified fashion. Once a person declares political views opposite of yours, they must be written off, or worse yet, destroyed. This unfortunate climate requires a wise approach in choosing our words. The words we use determine if we will have an opportunity to influence someone for Jesus. I never want to waste my influence working to establish an earthly kingdom, as opposed to the kingdom of God.
During this election season, I believe it is good to step back and get some perspective. For me, my perspective comes from Philippians 3:20, "But our citizenship is in Heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ."
This perspective does not mean I'm apathetic about my home in the United States. Quite the opposite. My faith in God motivates me to make a difference in the place I live now. But in seeking to make a difference, my faith reminds me I'm a citizen of Heaven, not just a citizen of this nation.
If this nation was all I had to trust in, then I'd definitely go to the extreme in presenting my political views. (After all, if my side doesn't win this election, we are done for!)
But my faith reminds me of a few things.
1. My hope is not in a political candidate. Political candidates will let me down. They will not keep their promises. They will compromise themselves morally. But most importantly, they cannot save my soul.
2. I will speak on issues from Scripture which are also political topics. For example, I have preached sermons on the topic of abortion. However, when I preach about abortion, I'm not sharing a political viewpoint, I'm sharing Scripture. "God hates hands that shed innocent blood." (Proverbs 6:17) I must be careful not to shy away from subjects in Scripture which have become political land mines. We need to hear God's standard for our lives. We also need to hear, as in the case of abortion, it's not the unforgivable sin. We all stand guilty of murder. The cross of Jesus reminds us of this reality. Thankfully, it is because of that same cross we can find forgiveness through Jesus Christ.
3. My responsibility is to pray for our leaders. The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 2:1-2: "I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone - for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness." With this responsibility I must check my motives. I should not pray for impeachment or the victory of my candidate. Instead, I should pray for the opportunity to live a peaceful and quiet life. This is what honors God. This is what will give more opportunities for influencing people with the message of Jesus Christ.
After all, I never want to use my influence for anyone but Jesus Christ.