Christians and Politics, Perspectives from Pastor Matthew

Election Day is next week and given this is my first time with Bergen UMC in a presidential election I wanted to share a few thoughts here. I love politics, I always have. I don’t love most of the ways that politics normally plays out, especially for our nation’s most influential office. What I do love is living in the United State of American and the potential our process has for goodness, fairness, and justice. In my younger years I wondered if one day life might lead me to a place of seeking political office, but the call God put on my life has obviously lead me in other places.
For all of my interest and passion in this important area of life I realized that I had some difficult decisions to make a number of years ago. There is a variety of opinion when it comes to how pastors should approach politics and elections. After a lot of prayerful consideration and conversation with other clergy about their approach I decided that in order to best shepherd those entrusted to my care that I needed to not be affiliated with any specific political party.
This was a difficult decision as one that had always leaned towards one particular party, but I still believe the choice to disaffiliate was the right one for me as a pastor. I have served diverse people in many settings. What I value so much about the church, is the way that it brings people together that might not connect in any other sphere of life because of their differences. They might not agree on politics at all, but because of Jesus in their lives, they gather together to find common ground around His Table.
I understand how personal and passionate politics gets for people. I have also seen people whose faith I admire and wish I could love Jesus in the ways that they do have very different political ideas from each other. Because of the call that God has placed on my life and the love I have for the people He has given me to serve, not only am I no longer registered with a political party, but you will not hear me take the side of one candidate over another.
This election cycle has had me struggle in regards to my approach due to some of the character concerns that have been so public with the leading candidates. In my continued prayerful discernment I still believe the most Spirit-led way that I can pastor Republicans, Democrats, Independents, and otherwise affiliated, is by not taking sides or revealing my hand regarding how I will personally vote.
What I will encourage Christians towards is to invite Christ with you into the voting booth. Do your homework on a candidate and on the political party’s platforms. Regardless of what other spiritual leaders may claim, there is no one candidate or party that will ever perfectly represent the priorities in scripture on all fronts (I can say this with confidence, as my reading of scripture tells me clearly that when Jesus returns it won’t be to run for president). I encourage you to read Christians that advocate for different candidates with a prayerful eye for ways that scripture would lead us in public policy.
There are many such resources out there for you to consider. One place in particular that I have always respected is Christianity Today. This year especially, they have been very balanced in the perspectives they have shared. They have had articles advocating for different candidates from the perspective of thoughtful Christians, thoughts about people of faith on “choosing the lessor of two evils”, and much thoughtful commentary on the issues that scripture demands us as Christians to take seriously.
This link will get you to Christianity Today’s political blog. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/topics/p/politics/ There are other great resources out there for Christians, but again, this is the most balanced that I’ve seen. Join me in praying for our country, these elections, and for all of our political leaders as 1 Timothy 2:1-4 calls us to:

“Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”