Christian Citizenship

 

It’s time to vote for the next president of the United States.

Some of you are very clear about the person you’ll vote for and why. Others of you are still in the process of making up your mind. But many of you are struggling with a choice you don’t like because you’re tired of the rhetoric, the polarization and the lowering of the bar of political discourse.

As your bishop, it’s not my job to tell you how whom to vote for – and I never would. However, I do want to offer some reflections for your consideration as we approach Election Day 2016.

First, vote. It’s a privilege you have been given and it is your duty to use it. The reason is very basic. It is one of the most important things you can do to seek to increase the common good as much as possible.

Second, let your faith guide how you vote. That means deeply mining how your identity as a disciple of Jesus Christ (which indeed is your primary identity) shapes how you vote in the same way it shapes everything you do. Of course, this does not mean all United Methodists in Arkansas will vote the same. But you have a responsibly to prayerfully seek God’s guidance so that your vote is a faithful reflection of the values, strategy and character you embrace as a Christian.

Third, demonstrate Christian generosity as you deal with others who vote differently from you. Don’t demonize them and put up barriers. Instead, seek to understand and build bridges because it takes everyone working together to make our nation better for everyone.

Fourth, understand that the things in this election that make you so uncomfortable are a current reflection of America’s soul. This is not limited to one candidate or one political party, but systemic and impacting everything. It concerns me deeply because I believe we fundamentally are dealing with a spiritual issue that mandates a spiritual response.

So what is your response? Pray, seeking God’s guidance. Grow deeper in your own discipleship. Reach out to make a difference in the lives of individuals, your community, and our state and nation through acts of mercy and actions that bring long-term change. But most importantly, continue to seek revival that changes all of us from the inside-out.

Being a citizen is messy business because life is complicated. Being a Christian citizen means having the courage to participate in public life in ways that help make God’s Will just as real on earth as it already is in heaven. Not through power and might, but through faith, service and power of the Holy Spirit that gives us what we need but can never get on our own.

I am blessed to be an American. I am grateful to live in Arkansas. I give all praise, honor and glory to God who calls me to abundant life in Jesus Christ – in every part of my life.