Beyond the Vote… – Jeremy Austill

**Because this week culminates with our Presidential
Inauguration, at the risk of disagreement and discomfort, I want to spend a few
sentences discussing politics.

I am well aware my 38 years
of living provides a limited perspective on all matters, politics included.
Some who read this have witnessed a much greater swath of American history.
Therefore, I have no misgivings of total comprehension or exhaustive
conclusions. Jesus so often asked questions and I have found doing the same
leads us deeper into His ways. As it pertains to Church and state there are two
predominant, opposite end, schools of thought among followers of Jesus. On one
end is the belief that the Church should pray for governmental leaders, detach
from politics and its rhetoric and at the most vote and trust the sovereignty
of God but overall deem it as irrelevant to a believer. On the other end is the
belief that the Church should pray for governmental leaders (we all tend to
agree here because the Bible communicates it explicitly), become intensely
involved in the conversation of politics, use the political system as a means
to enact God’s Kingdom in our nation and see it as shirking responsibility to
not be heavily involved. Within those schools of thought, and all the area in
between, are a million conversations and many layers of nuance.

History teaches us earthly
government has often moved forward (or backward) disregarding, manipulating,
capitalizing on or putting into submission God’s people. Whether we speak of
Jewish people or the Church, earthly government has had an ebb and flow in its
relationship with believers in God. At times listened to, at times used as
pawns, at times reviled, people of faith throughout history have always been
required to navigate the murky waters of human government which seems to be
fueled more often than not, by a love of money, self-ambition,
self-preservation and a thirst for power or control. It seems it is a bygone era when
our government bent its ear to the Church and received counsel and respected
its stance.

Let me state clearly, I believe the body of Christ is commissioned
by God to have a voice in a nation. What happens when that voice is either
diminished or ignored? My prayer in this hour is the Church would have a
prophetic voice, speaking into the culture of our nation. My fear is we
have allowed ourselves to become pawns in the political process. Throughout the
past 40 years the word evangelical has almost become synonymous with Republican
to the ears of most of the nation. Much discussion can be had, juxtaposing the
Republican Party with the Democratic Party, and I am fully aware of the big
issues, lesser of two evils, reasoning behind this linking of evangelicalism
and the Republican Party. In full disclosure, I have never voted democrat
because of the party’s stance on abortion. I disclose this because I do not want the next few thoughts
to be dismissed.

Found within the evangelical
embrace of republican politics is a strain, a pressure point. Not all Republican politics are congruent with the message of Jesus and His Kingdom. As
a result of the embrace, is it possible the evangelical community has vacated
the moral high ground and therein caused the diminishing of potency in its
voice? To embrace the party is to on some level give the appearance of support to things which conflict with the Gospels of Jesus. Is it possible the Body of Christ would do well in this moment, with the
Republican Party now having the presidency and Congress, to speak firmly to the
party regarding the areas which are incongruent with the Kingdom of God. The
Republican Party has become comfortable leveraging abortion to secure the
evangelical vote. The Republican Party has benefitted from the evangelical
movement yet the inner workings of greed, hunger for power, self-serving
decisions and even some of its more public philosophies do not represent the
heart of God’s Kingdom. It is possible the next move for the Church in our
nation is to now, while the Republicans have a position of authority, put a
demand on the party to clean up its own corruption and inadequacies and to
bring healing to the core of our nation. They have leveraged us to gain
power…now it is our responsibility to leverage the power we have given them for
the good of God’s Kingdom and for the changing of culture in our nation.

 **I have a million and 1 other thoughts on this
particular topic but it is too much for one blog entry. The trouble with this
format is it leaves a lot of room for interpretation and removes a lot of
context to make accurate interpretations. But I leave it this entry as is for
today.

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