Pastor's Reflection 9-29-16

Religion and politics are largely believed to be extremely controversial topics, and I think that assessment is probably accurate. I also feel very strongly that the church is not a place to express partisan views, but I do feel that it's important for us to vote and to elect leaders who we believe will best represent what God desires for our individual lives, for our nation, and for our world.

I know I've struggled with finding a way to make good, faithful decisions from a Christian perspective when it comes to electing our leaders. I happened to come across an article this week that was written by Dr. Rob Saler who is a Professor of Lutheran Studies at Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis. He gives what I feel are some excellent points that really spoke to me personally, so I share them with you today:

As one who is skeptical that Christian values ever align entirely with one political party or another, I would suggest that Christians might nevertheless ask the following questions:

1). Which candidates aligns best with your sense of the balance between letting Christian values impact laws while not imposing those values directly onto non-Christians who are also Americans?

2). Which candidate speaks to issues that are best handled within the public/legal sphere, rather than the issues that are best handled within private organizations/faith communities? In other words, which candidate is focusing on what you think secular governments ought to do as opposed to what churches ought to do?

3). Which candidate balances our need for security with our need to show mercy to "the least of these" (Matthew 25)? Which candidates' vision calls you forward into taking risks on behalf of those whom God loves who might also be in danger in the world?

4). Which candidate's vision brings out your "best" self, the self that you think best reflects what God is calling you to be? Which candidate is bringing that out in others?

5). When you put yourself in the mindset of a person with very different privileges than you - someone who is poorer, more likely to be targeted by hate crimes, someone who does not have whatever advantages in life you have - can you explain why your candidate's positions would be good for them as well as for you?

6). Since Christians believe that violence should always be a last resort, and one to be lamented - which candidate will use violence reluctantly and only when necessary, and only to the degree necessary to achieve peace?

7). Which candidate best aligns with your Christian call to display appropriate patriotism - that is, being proud of America without turning America itself into an idol?

8). Which candidate understands the role of the President to be one of collaboration with other aspects of the United States government in order to promote peace and the provision of basic needs (life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness) on behalf of all Americans?

9). Which candidate's vision aligns best with God's call for us as Christians to love and seek the benefit of people around the world, and not just Americans?

10). Which candidate will use the power of the office to look after the earth, that is, the creation that God calls "very good" (Genesis) and intends to redeem (Revelation)?

Have a blessed day! I hope to see you on Sunday for Part I of our six week campaign, "40 Days in the Word!"

Pastor Janice

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