In a little more than a month we’ll be having a presidential election in the United States. It’s a big deal and I encourage everyone eligible to vote. But I think in this politically charged season the church needs to be reminded that we are not a political party. Our allegiance does not lie with the Republicans or the Democrats. Change we can believe in is not dependent on who governs this great nation.
And as great as this nation is, our cries should not end at God bless America, but continue to include God bless Iraq, God bless Afghanistan, God bless Ethiopia, God bless Haiti, God bless China, God bless Peru–as Christians we should seek for God to bless all the people of the world.
All of this comes to mind because of the story of a missionary couple, Heather and Mike Colletto, trying to raise funds for their work with Trans World Radio in Slovakia. It seems their fund raising efforts have slowed because of Heather’s support for Barack Obama. Heather defends her support of Obama and Mike cares more about why you vote for someone than who you vote for. He also points out that God isn’t an American. Both Jason Boyett and the Burnside Writer’s Blog have covered this issue and offered their perspectives.
The message this kind of action sends is that the church cares more about politics than evangelism. That sucks.
I’m all in favor of Christians voting and making their voice heard. But when we presume that our political ideals are God’s ideals and anyone who disagrees is somehow less of a Christian, then we’ve lost the way (we need to learn how to disagree well. When political action becomes the primary way of living out our faith, then we’re in more than trouble.
Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw make this argument in their book Jesus for President. They point out that Jesus did the very opposite of seek political power. They point out that our primary citizenship is in God’s kingdom, not in earthly nations.
As the church, it’s contrary to our faith in Christ to follow John McCain’s admonition to put “country first.” And as Christians we also know that Barack Obama’s claim that the United States is the “last best hope on earth” is false. We have a greater allegiance and a greater hope.
My prayer is that the Church can move beyond political affiliations and national identities, that Christians would support one another (like Heather and Mike; here’s how you can give to support them) in evangelism, and that we can be known for love, mercy and grace, not our politics.