Throughout the past few weeks, my church, The Hills Church, and I worked through a series of messages called “What would Jesus say?” regarding the upcoming election. During the first week, we reflected on what Jesus might say to Hillary Clinton. The second week, Donald Trump. Yesterday, we wrapped up the series, with perhaps the most important of the three messages, “What would Jesus say to the American voters?”
I’m so glad we worked through this series. It wasn’t easy. I was threading a proverbial needle the entire time, a political series that was as non-political as possible. I’m a human being. I have my own biases. I have my own opinions. But our stated goal throughout the series wasn’t to promote my own biased opinions. Our goal was to use the reality of the political circumstances as a tool by which to learn more about the heart of God. Period. No endorsements. No “candidate bashing.” No propping up one political agenda over another. No instructions on how to vote or for whom to vote. Our goal was to seek the heart of God using the platforms and ongoing “issues” plaguing our political candidates as an outline of sorts.
Without simply copying and pasting my sermon manuscripts for this post, I simply want to offer you a few reflections influenced by the work I put into those messages revealing my heart as a pastor as we approach the big day tomorrow.
First and foremost, remember that no matter who you vote for, no matter who wins, no matter what happens, Jesus is still Lord. It’s the most simplistic, yet most profound truth of our faith. Jesus is Lord. When these words were first uttered in the first century, they were treasonous. They were a slap in the face to the religious and political powers that existed at the time. There was no separation between church and state. Each was fully engulfed in the other, both in Judea and Rome. By proclaiming Jesus is Lord, we are declaring as they did, that no politician, no political party, no state, no government of any kind has any authority over the resurrected Lord and our allegiance to him. Whether you vote for Trump, Clinton, or one of the myriad third party candidates, at the end of the day, none of them will ever reign supreme and, for that reason, none of them are worth dividing over. Jesus is Lord.
Secondly, we need to remember how Jesus loves to flip the ways of our world upside down. One day, while talking with his rag tag band of followers, Jesus said, “YOU are the salt of the earth….YOU are the light of the world.” (emphasis mine) I don’t know why we get so bent out of shape when it comes to our political philosophies and our political candidates (and, trust me when I write “we,” the emphasis is squarely on me). The men and women for whom we vote, the men and women whom we elect to hold power, are among the last people God is interested in using to do his will in our world. Jesus didn’t seek out the powers of his day and tell them THEY were the movers and shakers who would expand His Kingdom. Jesus looked to a bunch of commoners. He called fishermen, builders, zealots, social outcasts, rejects, folks stuck in a life of poverty and sickness, known sinners, even women (an enormous no-no in first century Judea) to join him in his mission to revolutionize the world. These are the people Jesus said were the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Not the Donald Trumps or Hillary Clintons of the world. You. Me. And the rest of the screw-ups who can barely keep the bills paid and the kids fed. Throughout scripture, these are the folks God consistently called to change the world, not the super wealthy, not the super connected, not the super powerful, average Joes and Janes. So, again, no matter who wins or loses, our mission nor our circumstances change. Nothing changes. Jesus is still Lord and we are still the folks he’s desperately wanting to use to make crazy cool things happen in our struggling and hurting world.
That all being said, here’s our reality: tomorrow morning we will all be invited to cast a vote for whom we believe will serve us best as the next President of the United States. Who you vote for is entirely between you and God (if you even care to invite him into the discussion). I’m convinced Jesus, if he were standing before us here today, would have some choice words for both of our major party candidates.
To Hillary Clinton, I’m convinced he would be ecstatic at the idea that the United States is finally making it possible to cast a vote for a woman to hold the highest office in the land. Jesus was far more egalitarian than most like to give him credit. I’m convinced he would be gathering all the little girls and boys together and telling them, “NOW, anything truly is possible for all of you…equally.” However, I do think he’d have some concerns about Clinton’s trust and integrity issues. The FBI may have exonerated her, but it’s impossible to deny the number of documented occasions in which we know Secretary Clinton was less than honest, even outright lied, to the public (I’m not going to post them all here, but a simple google search will be all it takes). To be sure, if you’re breathing and your heart is beating you have lied and will continue to lie throughout your natural life. Deception is a human fault. But there’s a difference between lying, realizing it, and humbly seeking forgiveness for it and building a career based largely on deception and half truths. Honesty and humility are essential.
To Donald Trump, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear Jesus say something to the effect, “My father has spoken through a four-legged ass before. There’s no reason he cannot work through you.” God’s credentials for positions of authority are far different than ours. If we were in charge of deciding who had the potential for greatness, humanity would’ve never known a King David or an Apostle Paul. That being said, I do think Jesus would have some strong words regarding Donald Trump’s use of words. More exactly, I think Jesus would simply tell Donald Trump, and every bully who has ever lived, “Words matter.” As revealed in creation itself, words have the power to either give life or take life. When we were created in God’s image, I’m convinced that means, at least in part, that we have been empowered to create or destroy simply by the words we speak. When I see a man like Trump openly mocking people with disabilities, threatening people who live or believe differently than he does, insulting women and minorities, it breaks my heart knowing the kind of pain and anguish he’s inflicting on people. There is no life in those words. Words matter.
To wrap this all up (if you’re even still reading at this point), I think there’s one final thing Jesus would add to this whole mess. I think he would effectively say something like this, “Voting without prayer is just as foolish as praying without taken advantage of your vote.” Jesus came from a world where neither he nor any of his early disciples, had any influence on who held positions of authority. Power was given to those with the biggest sticks and the best connections. That has changed dramatically throughout the past 2,000 years and given Jesus’ penchant for being involved in the real world, I’m convinced he’d ensure we were involved in electing our leaders. You may or may not be able to stomach voting for one of the top two names on the ballot tomorrow. I get it. If I’m honest with you, I cannot either. But I’m going to vote because I know Trump and Hillary are not the only two names on the ballot tomorrow. In addition to the myriad of third party candidates for President, there are down ticket elections to be decided. Those down ticket elections have far greater influence on your life than the President ever will (or ever should). So pray (if you’re the praying type). Educate yourself. Go vote knowing exactly who you’re voting for and why you’re voting for them. Then pray some more. Then, when it’s all said and done, regardless of who wins, love people as Jesus would love them if he were walking in your shoes, speaking with your mouth, or typing away on your keyboard.
Thanks for checking out my Election Eve Reflections. I nearly didn’t post it because, like me, it’s far from perfect. But, God still uses imperfect people and imperfect ideas for his perfect purposes. May God bless us with wisdom and grace as we head to the polls tomorrow. May God bless you and may God bless the world.