How to Be a Christian for the Next 4 Years

4-years

Like you, I am trying to find a way forward this election cycle.

The American election of 2016 has been an incredibly awkward, stressful, frustrating and demeaning experience. The Founding Father’s foresaw the fragility of the great experiment of democracy… urging the citizenry of the United States to remain vigilant and skeptical against the corrupting temptations of both soul and government. A nation that doesn’t prioritize itself with personal integrity turns itself towards fallible leaders and falsely-therapeutic ideologies.

The swords of division in 2016 have cut deeply into every aspect of American life, and have nefariously infected Christian communities. It’s been sad for me to see good friends who support one candidate demean supporters of the another candidate. “You can’t be a Christian if you support a candidate who _________________ (Fill in the blank with “demonstrates sexual aggression” or “demonstrates corruption of power”, Etc).” If these arguments are true, then Christians can’t support anyone.

So how then should we vote? How then should we live? When there is no clear political path, how can a follower of Jesus speak up for what is right or against what is wrong?

Today I’m putting together some initial thoughts, the articulation of which I am still developing, on how to be a Christian for the next four years. Please feel free to leave constructive thoughts of your own in the comments:

  1. FOLLOW JESUS  – Perhaps this election will bring me, a Christian, back to my knees. Perhaps the painful truth will begin to sink in: There is no possible way to cast a vote for a Presidential candidate who will bring unity to the Polarized States of America. There is no candidate who will quell my worry, satisfy my desire or fulfill my hope. As a follower of Jesus who cares about my nation, I can, however, try to cast my vote for the administration that I believe will most reflect my views towards life and that will support the constitution of this nation. In other words, I can try to discern how my political engagement before (and on) November 8 could most honor Jesus. And after November 8, I can commit to trying to follow Jesus in every step on every day for the sake of those around me. Followers of Jesus throughout history and geography have learned to be faithful in the midst of disparaging governance. So no matter the outcome of the election, my attentiveness to Jesus certainly has room to deepen and mature. Matthew 9:9John 21:20-22
  2. PRAY FOR GOVERNMENT – Whether mine will be a majority or minority vote, I have no choice for the next four years but to pray for the President, the administration, the Congress, the Supreme Court (and other judicial courts). I also can pray for local school boards and representatives. I do believe that if I don’t pray for government I will likely become just an annoyingly resounding gong within the public sector. 1 Timothy 2:1-2 (See also…)
  3. PRAY FOR OUR COUNTRY– Caring for my nation must be a priority. I need to put the interests of society in proper perspective. Much of the cultural, ideological “pursuit of happiness” in American culture is too self-serving and counter-productive to the betterment of communities. If I become a self-server, looking for government to support my will above the will of my neighbor, my attitude rings of arrogance and ignorance. My heart should bear the burden of care for the soul of this nation, more than it cares for my own. I must also realize that my concern is not a temporary one. Generations should be in the focus of my vision for this land. Psalm 78:1-7; Philippians 2:3-4
  4. ADVOCATE FOR THE SANCTITY OF LIFE – I can rally around two groups of people: Those who are pre-breath and those who are peri-breath (i.e. Those who are yet to take their first breath and those who have already started breathing). Millions of babies have been aborted in the United States. In the years ahead, millions more will be. I should not sleep comfortably about that. Likewise, if I don’t speak up for those who have been given breath, then my voice should equally be muted. If I don’t advocate (“speak for”) on behalf of those whose voices are being silenced, then what voice should I be allowed to have?  If I decry partially, why listen to me wholly? May my message be one of sanctity and dignity for everyone created with inalienable rights. Psalm 139; Proverbs 31:8-9
  5. CONFESS AND REPENT– For the next four years I can be honest and sincere, genuine and determined. Mine should never be a judgmental, plankineyetis life. Instead I should live humbly, not seeing myself as better than others, but seeing myself in my proper role as a forgiven (and being-forgiven) follower of God. 1 John 1:8-10Luke 6:41-42
  6. LOVE MY NEIGHBOR (and seek love from my neighbor). Jesus didn’t want us just to advocate for others, he wanted us to live in such a way that others could advocate for us. You know you are a true neighbor when you both love your neighbor and are loved by your neighbor. My testimony about life and God means very little if I cannot practice and receive love. Luke 10:25-37; (See alsoand also…)
  7. DISCERN AND STAND FOR TRUTH – Finally, and continually, I must wisely decipher what is good. During stressful times, it is much to tempting to retreat or surrender towards self-medicating philosophies. Much of the current election cycle has revealed the nefarious schemes of manipulation… whether among politicians, news media, celebrities, or Facebook citizens. May I not stumble like a simpleton, “unaware and compliant”. May I not fall into the trap of pushing or imbibing false narratives. May I not be blown about by high-sounding arguments of those who would enact evil schemes because they have been granted the power to do so. May I seek truth. And may I and live accordingly. Micah 2Micah 6:8Colossians 2:4-8

 

 

Ken Castor

Ken Castor is a husband, dad, pastor, writer and teacher. He serves as a professor at Crown College, Minnesota, where he equips students to pursue Jesus-Centered Faith and Next Generation Ministry. For 20+ years he's focused on equipping the next generations in places like the U.S., Canada, and Northern Ireland. He's the author of Grow Down (Simply Youth Ministry, 2014), Make a Difference (Broadstreet, 2016), the Blue-Letters Editor of the Jesus-Centered Bible (Group, 2015) and numerous other articles and Bible Study guides. But, whenever possible, he gets down on the floor and builds Lego with his kids. Connect with him @kencastor.

2 thoughts on “How to Be a Christian for the Next 4 Years

  1. Thanks for the encouragement, Tim. Your comment makes me think of the “Stockdale Paradox”! We need reality in order to overcome false hopes. Your last phrase, sadly, is an all too-real, frightening scenario.

    Like

  2. Ken,

    In this world we have trouble, for sure. I appreciate your thoughtful approach in describing what is actually happening in our political world. I am reminded that for some people, power is their god and politics is their religion.

    Appreciatively,
    Tim Morrison

    Like

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