Sounding Off

Vote-Your-Conscience

How to Vote Your Conscience as a Christian Without Feeling Guilty

Dear Friends,

Many years ago when I first responded to God’s call to ministry I was taught a valuable lesson in humility. I had interviewed at a small church with the intention of attending seminary while actively pastoring a church. 

The interview process in my denomination involved meeting with a pastoral search committee. The committee members would then vote on whether to invite a candidate to deliver a sermon at a ‘neutral’ church in which only the search committee members would attend.

At the time, a ‘neutral’ church sounded to me like a place where two opposing armies meet to discuss surrender terms without getting shot. Frightening. If the search committee decided you were worthy enough, you would be invited to meet the congregation at the home church and preach, after which the congregation would vote on whether to call you as their pastor.

After preaching at the neutral church, the committee huddled in the parking lot while I stood by my car out of ear shot. When the huddle broke, the chairman of the committee approached me and said something to the effect of, “that was the worst sermon we have heard in a long time but since we are short on candidates we want you preach for the church anyway and let them decide with a vote.”

Needless to say, I was a little crushed and somewhat miffed, yet I had the sense that God was sending me to that church for a reason so I agreed. About two thirds of the membership voted for and one third voted against. I accepted the call with trepidation with the idea of winning the naysayers over by working hard for them.

It truly was an uphill battle. I loved the folks in that church with God’s love yet there seemed to be little progress with the naysayers regardless of how hard I worked. The folks who voted against were far more vocal that the ones who voted for so it was a thankless and discouraging job at times.

Eventually, I met with the naysayer group and asked them how I could improve my performance and gain their respect. I pointed out that the church was growing with many new believers being baptized. Also, the church was rapidly becoming the fastest growing small church in the state. Plus, the finances had improved dramatically so that we were no longer in danger of having the utilities switched off.

It turned out that they were still attached to a former pastor who wore nice shirts and ties and preached hell fire and brimstone to them which was not my style.

Somehow, with all that hell fire and brimstone, they had missed the entire point of the Gospel of grace and love for those outside the church, as well as their own pastor. They professed to love God yet they were willing to destroy what God was trying to do simply because they didn’t like him or his choice in clothing.

Today, some in the church seem confused with this same type of hypocrisy concerning politics. In order to vote our consciences we first need to examine our core values and determine what we truly believe. Do our beliefs square with God’s Word? For example, let’s say that you detest abortion and you sacrifice your time and talents for the unborn and to help unwed mothers so that they might not abort their children before they have a chance to breathe outside the womb. Yet, because you simply don’t like the person in charge, whose actions demonstrate similar beliefs to yours, you would cast your vote for someone who unashamedly stands for taxpayer funded abortion on demand.

I would hope that as a Christian you would feel guilty about that. I would hope that you would overcome your dislike for a human being who has many flaws yet stands for what you profess to believe in. Even if that person’s motives are not pure, isn’t it a person’s deeds that matter most?

The Apostle Paul when asked about people who preach from wrong and flawed motives said to the church in Philippi, “But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice…” Phil 1:18.

So friends, I appeal to you as a fellow child of God to look at the larger picture and examine your motives, then vote with your conscience without feeling guilty.

God bless!

Pastor Charles

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