Posted tagged ‘voting’

What Would Jesus Say To ______?

September 10, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                September 10, 2016

                     

Since I’ve been a pastor for a majority of my life people have often looked to me for guidance on a variety of issues and life situations. I’ve been asked what version of the Bible I would recommend, what to say to a child that has begun to wander spiritually, how to deal with mother-in-laws that make life torture, and what to say to someone who scoffs at the Christian faith?

All are relevant questions that trouble people’s minds.

There is one area, however, where I refuse to give people that I’ve been the pastor to any guidance, and that is the problem of politics. It’s interesting how in the blessedness of our liberty we’ve made the political arena a problem. People have become snippy! If I was able to measure on a scale the weight of political venom expressed versus mercy for the impoverished the scale would topple over under the weight of the vicious.

About 25 years ago I made a political comment during a Sunday sermon and I still remember a woman in my congregation getting up and walking out. My conversation with her the following week was eye-opening for me. She respected me as her pastor, but not as her political commentator. Our deep dialogue made me realize how powerful the pulpit can be…for good or for bad. Although I have my personal view on politics since that episode I have never used my position as pastor to influence how people should vote.

On the other hand I have used my position as pastor to influence how people respond to poverty, community needs, supporting missions, responding to catastrophic events around the world, and the church’s tendency to become insulated and isolated.

It’s interesting how those issues get pushed to the side in the midst of the daily political jabs and low blows. It seems that people are more interested in what Jesus would say about someone or to someone. What would he say to Trump, or Clinton, or Johnson, or Stein? There is a weird thirst amongst a number of religious people to dress Jesus in the coat of their political preference. The funny thing is that Jesus was always a bit wary of politics and people in power, or looking to be in power. The politics of the Kingdom of God are usually printed in a different section of the newspaper than the news of current political campaigns.

Jesus said a lot about issues. His words would not fit neatly into any one of the political parties’ platforms. People would be trying in a variety of ways to reword his views to fall within their boundaries. In effect, there would be a lot of “trying to straighten out Jesus” moments!

And thus the tension with where we are today! My family and relatives include avid Trump supporters, committed Democrats, confused Republicans, and some who will vote Libertarian for the first time in their lives…and we’re all still one family! Most of us are followers of Jesus, and most of us understand that it’s okay to disagree with one another. That we can vote for different people and still be family! Sadly, that kind of freedom seems to be lacking in many congregations of Christ-followers, and some sanctuaries this time of year simply resemble smaller versions of Cleveland and Philadelphia.

 

Political Cynicism

November 5, 2012

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                        November 4, 2012

 

Election Day is day after tomorrow. Don’t answer the phone! My caller ID tells me that in the last two weeks I’ve gotten calls from Virginia, Washington, California, Florida, Maine, and Pennsylvania. Unless I have long lost relatives that live there, only Virginia is recognizable as a “Wolfe possibility; and that only because the Wolfe Family Reunion is held each year the first Sunday in August at Twin Valley High School in Nickelsville, Virginia.

Out of state callers this time of year are about as welcome as my cholesterol count.

In today’s newspaper in our city there was a front page article that shared the opinions of local voters about the election. What stood out was the cynicism of most of the ten people who were asked about their voting preferences. A couple of them said that they are voting for a certain candidate because “he is the lesser of two evils.” Another man called one of the candidates “…a kook. Just look at his eyes. He’s a liar.” Another man said that he wouldn’t vote for a certain candidate “if you put a gun to my head!”One person who is enrolled at a local Bible college said he doesn’t plan on vote, and is not even registered. He made the comment “God is going to take care of what he’ll take care of.”

Another man was more concerned about getting Amendment 64 (legalizing marijuana) passed than about who the next president will be.

What are we to do with this? It seems that a diminishing number of voters are voting according to their convictions. Cynicism may very well elect the next president, not what their campaign platform entails.

Please understand that I am not endorsing a certain candidate. What I am saying is that our political preferences should point us towards the betterment of the present and progress in the future. How each person understands that is different and just as diverse as our population.

Voting for someone because he is the lesser of two evils takes us backwards and results in more dysfunction.

It is evident that our country has become more and more polarized in our thinking. Even the newspaper article could have had a few words changed and ended up resembling the banter before a prize fight.

But cynicism about politics is just a smaller picture of a growing cynicism about life. Say the word “optimism” to a child and he very well think you have mispronounced the name of a Transformer.

People are cynical. The next stop after that is the station for bitterness.