By Dr. Curtis Christian
First Presbyterian Church
Like many Christians, Presbyterians believe that God beckons us to live out our faith in every aspect of our lives — socially, economically, even politically.
The Apostle Paul writes: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore one must be subject ... because of conscience. For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, busy with this very thing. Pay to all what is due them — taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due.” (Romans 13:-1, 5-7)
Presbyterians believe that, if called by God, we have a religious obligation to be engaged in the political process of our respective governments. According to one of our traditional statements of faith (the Westminster Confession): “It is lawful for Christians to accept and execute the office of a magistrate, when called thereunto; in the managing whereof, as they ought especially to maintain piety, justice, and peace, according to the wholesome laws of each commonwealth” (6.128).
These religious statements speak of our Christian responsibility to participate in the political process. We do so not as a means of greatness through power. Rather, we are engaged in government as a means of pious servant-hood. We believe that politicians, civil magistrates, and government officials are not masters who are to be served by their constituents. Rather, they are themselves public servants who act to make God’s love known to their constituents and to the world.
Sadly, the current political environment in this nation today promotes polarization of the American people — not a unity of these United States. Many times, perhaps all too often, the voices of political partisanship seem to shout down the proclamation of God’s reconciling love. And, more’s the pity, even well-intentioned Christians find themselves unfortunately polarized by their political affiliations rather than united one to another in faith.
No political party has a unique claim to Christianity, nor does God sanctify any one political party. Christians are democrats; Christians are republicans; Christians are independents. Christians can, by their own religious conscience, be part of most any political orientation. What must be remembered — and practiced — is that the one common denominator is their faith.
It is the hope of First Presbyterian Church that we can proclaim and reclaim our unity in the midst of these divisive days. So, after every vote has been cast on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012, First Presbyterian Church of Richmond, Kentucky, calls out to the people for unity.
At 6:30, that Tuesday evening, after the polls have closed, we invite the community of Christians to gather around the Lord’s Table as we celebrate a Communion for Unity. No matter who you voted for, no matter what be your political affiliation, no matter who wins the election, let us come together in Christian unity as we break bread together.