The Call to Engage

 
“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. “Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”
Romans 13:1-2,7-10
 
In a strange twist, the apostle Paul begins chapter 13 of Romans talking about submitting to government authorities and then connects this Christian civil responsibility to the second portion of Jesus’ summary of the Law, namely to “love one another.” Just to remind us all, St. Paul is talking about the Roman government! Thanks be to God, we live not under Roman rule but the rule of law with the rights of a constitution which, among other things, guarantees our right to vote.
 
Even as I am writing this blog, I’m aware of my own frustration with the state of politics in our country. It is easy to ignore what is happening around us and simply go about our individual lives. Yet, if I take Paul’s admonition seriously, how I engage or refuse to engage in society is really a response to the command to love my neighbor. Furthermore, our Lord Jesus calls us to be salt and light in our city, county, and state. Part of this calling is lived out as we engage with issues that affect our community and speak out from a Christ-centered perspective.
 
You may be thinking, “Why is Alex all the sudden talking about politics?” I write this blog today in light of our upcoming general election on November 6th. You may not be aware yet, but locally “this year's November ballot will be the longest voters have seen in at least 20 years.” In addition to many state and local officials to be elected, the ballot will contain twelve proposed amendments to the Florida Constitution, two Alachua county referenda, and two city of Gainesville referenda. The Supervisor of Elections anticipates completing a ballot may take up to 30 minutes. My fear is that for some, this will become overwhelming and they will simply give up in the process. I do not believe this is an option for Christians who take seriously Paul’s words in Romans 13.
 
To this end, I would encourage each of you to seriously review the proposed amendments and referenda, along with candidates and prayerful consider how you should vote. Sample ballots are mailed out but you can also obtain one at voteAlachua.com. In addition, I am personally working through the amendments and referenda and would be willing to lead a non-partisan discussion with members of the congregation in order to seek greater clarification. Please contact me personally if you are interested.
 
I will close this with a quote by the late John Stott, “if we truly love our neighbors, and want to serve them, our service may oblige us to take (or solicit) political action on their behalf.”
 
May God guide you in all these things,

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