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Election Year

"Put not your trust in princes" (Psalm 146).

This year, Americans will go through another presidential election cycle; as a pastor and a citizen, I am apprehensive.

I am worried because political seasons seem to commodify fear and spark division. I am exhausted from endless debates that never seem to settle anything.

Nonetheless, I am hopeful that, this time around, we as a church can collectively decide to love our neighbor across political divides. I am committed to doing my part to spark conversations that connect instead of polarize.

Our differences matter, but our commitment to love one another matters more. I believe the church is the place to put this into practice. 

I visited a leader in our church recently who gave me hope that this is possible. In our visit, he brought up his respect for one of his good friends who is very politically different from himself. I know both of these men. They are both long-time leaders in the church, and they work well together.

Their differences in the way that they think complement one another. One is meticulous in detail and processes on a systemic level, while the other is a bulldozer that values expediency and getting things done.

Both mindsets are needed. They do have conflict but their commitment to respect enables resolution through the challenges.

In our culture, we have been taught to avoid talking about politics and religion, but this has led to a lack of understanding of politics and religion. What we should be taught is how to have a civil conversation about a difficult topic.

These conversations rarely happen on Facebook. The algorithm incentivizes polarization instead of meaningful dialogue. Mark Witas, a pastor/chaplain friend of mine who works for Adventist Health, recently made a post about this that resonated with me. He gave his permission to reshare his social post here. He asked, “Has anyone ever changed their political affiliations/leanings because of Facebook posts? Me neither.”

During this coming intense political season, how about we litter Facebook with positive posts about the things that bring us joy, the God appointments we keep with our fellow humans and the positive people who have made a difference in our lives?

Jesus says, "Seek first the kingdom." What's the kingdom? It's right in front of you. It's all the beautifully flawed human beings that He's placed around you at work and school. Seek their good. Seek to bless them. Seek blessings from them.

As you do, if you are inclined to share on social media, bless us all with your experiences.

Resist investing your posts on how right you think your side of the political aisle is. Remember, the empire is not the kingdom, and it never will be. Invest in the kingdom and you will not be disappointed.

As I look back on posts I have made during previous political seasons, I realize I can do better at this. I am committed to spending time connecting with others rather than correcting them. I am committed to placing my trust in the only leader who never fails. Placing trust in presidents and political parties is a path to disappointment.

In this election cycle, may we as a church give our allegiance to the Leader who united men from all ends of the political/religious spectrum and prayed that His followers would be one.

As I have been reflecting on this, I have been meditating on Psalm 146. Read it in context for yourself, but I want to leave you with my 2024 paraphrase for this election season.

Psalm 146:3–9 (Kevin's Presidential Election Paraphrase) 

Put not your trust in presidents, 
in mere mortals, in whom there is no salvation.

With their breath they make promises that they cannot keep, after four years; 
when they leave, their plans and projects leave with them.

Instead of looking to a president to find real hope, 
put your hope in God and know real blessing!

The God who made heaven and earth,
the sea and all that is in them,
who keeps faith forever;

who executes justice for the oppressed,
who gives food to the hungry.
God frees prisoners.

He gives sight to the blind,
He lifts up the humble and the fallen.
God loves justice and those who speak up for righteousness,

The Lord watches over refugees and strangers,
He takes the side of orphans and widows,
the arc of the moral universe may be long, but it bends towards justice!

Featured in: July/August 2024