Faith and politics are the two topics that are prone to cause issues due to deeply held beliefs, philosophies, emotions and motivations. Not only can each of these issues divide friends, family, and society on their own, but when combined they can become even more volatile — lobbing verbal assaults via social media from the safety and anonymity of our own homes. If you are a Jesus follower, hear this clearly, that is not an appropriate way to act towards others — no matter what their politics or faith is.
“In 1 Timothy, Paul writes about how faith and politics should be addressed in our churches and our world. Jesus follower, you would be wise to take this message to heart, not just agreeing with it, but actually putting it into practice in your life.
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession & thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed at the proper time. And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a true and faithful teacher of the Gentiles. Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing.” (1 Timothy 2:1-8, NIV)
Nowhere does it say we are to only pray for those who have faith/politics like ours, but instead we should pray for ALL PEOPLE. And lest you want to lean towards prayers of the imprecatory nature; Paul clarifies that we should pray FOR people, intercede and give thanks, asking God to give them help and comfort and blessings. Fellow Jesus followers, when was the last time you prayed in this way for those who you strongly disagreed with?
Paul also strongly challenges us to pray for those who are in leadership and authority over others. Praying the same blessings, intercessions, and thanks for them that you are to be praying for ALL PEOPLE. Again there is no exemption clause that gives us the freedom to avoid praying for those who are on the opposite side of the political/faith spectrum.
Paul continues to say that an attitude of generous prayer towards others is pleasing to God and leads to peaceful lives. It reorients the believer's heart to the passion and purpose of God’s Kingdom instead of their own hearts' meager kingdom; and when believers (from all walks of life, faith, and political areas) are fixing their eyes on Jesus, they find unity in the only solution for a fractured society — Jesus Christ. How can we as Jesus followers claim to love Jesus when the hands we lift up in prayer and praise are messy and burdened with anger and controversy?
Let me close with a quote from the founder of the Methodist movement, John Wesley, from his journal dated Oct. 6, 1774: “I met those of our society who had votes in the ensuing election, and advised them: 1) to vote, without fee or reward, for the person they judged most worthy. 2) To speak no evil of the person they voted against, and 3) to take care their spirits were not sharpened against those that voted on the other side.”
This is solid, and practical wisdom that is in line with the character of Christ. Let us embrace the wisdom of Paul and the counsel of Wesley as we approach the polls this week. It pleases God and benefits all of mankind.
Peter Epler is pastor of Ketchikan Naz Church.
Perspectives is a regular column sponsored and written by members of the Ketchikan Ministerial Association.