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History Changers - Biblical Perspectives on Political Involvement

August 16th marked a significant day in the life of America, the Christian church and the political process, as one of the most respected Christian leaders of our time, and perhaps of any time, Pastor Rick Warren of the Saddleback Church in Lake Forest California hosted a Faith Forum, in which during separate conversations he posed the exact same questions to Republican presidential hopeful John McCain and his counterpart, Democratic presumptive nominee Barack Obama. I use the word significant, because Rick Warren, despite the success of his books and his ministry has been able to lead responsibly where so many evangelical leaders before him have failed, because they have forgotten that God has given them a trust. Leaders in the Christian church have been entrusted with Godís people and that is a great responsibility. They should not use their positions to sway people to support their personal agendas. They should also retain an air of humility, rather than degrading the evangelical voice into some sort of hyped up sideshow that becomes mere fodder for tabloids and erodes the credibility of our voices as Christians. Warren conducted this Faith Forum in a manner which should make all Christians proud, because he posed questions that should matter to the evangelical community and the Christian church in general. He did not attempt to advance any secret agenda and therefore allowed the viewers on three television networks and the radio listeners to form their own opinions. 
Many of you reading these words will know that I am a Canadian and therefore may conclude that I have no place in commenting on the upcoming election in America, and perhaps you are right. I will therefore approach this in a generic political sense, but before I do, I would like to say that there was a time only a little over two years ago when I almost began the process to immigrate to the United States and only a change in personal circumstances prevented that from occurring. I would also like to point out that I publish a magazine and eighty-seven percent of our readers are American, therefore, I have a vested interest in keeping my thumb on the pulse of the United States. I can tell you where I was when I first heard of the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Robert F Kennedy (my personal hero). During the Vietnam War, I grew up in Toronto across the lake from Buffalo New York and only a few hours from Detroit Michigan and I remember the images that came across my parentsí television. 
Many years ago, I served as a pastor for five years, during that time I was nominated to and subsequently elected to the board of directors for one of Canadaís major political parties. I served as a director for three years. I got involved in the process, because I believe that if Christians are to have a voice in society, in our judicial system, the laws that are passed and enforced and in the general governing of our countries, then we have to be involved in the political process.  The bible and particularly the Old Testament are filled with examples of men and women of faith who acted upon Godís directives to guide the nation of Israel. A look at the lives of Joshua and Deborah quickly dispels any notion that this was always done in a peaceful manner. God placed Joseph in a position of authority in Egypt and He Moses up to lead the children of Israel from bondage in Egypt. One of my favorite biblical figures Esther gained the trust and the ear of her husband the King of Persia and dramatically changed the course of history. We sometimes as Christians read about the lives of these individuals and we become so caught up in the dynamic of their spirituality and their words, that we forget about how through their actions they helped to change history. One of my favorite authors, Charles Swindoll, authored a number of books which chronicle the lives of biblical heroes such as Joseph, Esther and David. What I enjoyed about these books when they first came out a number of years ago, was how Swindoll was able to bring these individuals to life, so we could understand the decisions that they grappled with, we could feel their pain and therefore better appreciate their actions. We in the Christian church have too often used passages of scripture as rehearsed speeches and have used words and used evangelical speak that those outside the church do not comprehend, not because they are ignorant or dumb, but because we have failed to talk in terms that they understand. If you are truly interested in affecting the world in which you live, then you have to wrap your beliefs in specific actions. 
Christians often believe in both Canada and the United States, that one person cannot have an impact and cannot influence the process and decisions that are made in our nationsí capitols. I discovered during my involvement in five political campaigns, in shaking hands with people, soliciting funds, knocking on doors and working campaign floors that one plus one more plus one more can make a difference. Through the work of two committees, one focused on commerce and the other on terrorism, I watched as our recommendations were presented in our nationís capitol and eventually some of them were adopted as government policy. Were they adopted because of our white papers or did some one else gain the ear of those in power? Does it really matter? It only matters when we remain silent and as Christians, if we sit on the sidelines and do nothing, for when we do so, we create opportunities for those who do not share our values and principles.
Several years ago, I was privileged to sit under the ministry of a pastor by the name of Michael Pawelke, who was for me, my Rick Warren, because although he was the pastor of a thriving church which successfully launched two other churches, while I was a part of that Christian community, Pastor Pawelke always retained an air of humility, as he challenged our congregation on matters of ethics and morality.  He did not tell us we were all going to hell if we sat on the sidelines, but instead he educated us about the responsibility that is ours, and he did so through well-prepared and thoughtful messages. He challenged our congregation to develop young men and women who would occupy positions in the medical professions, the legal profession, in government and in information technology, so that we as Christians would always have a voice. 
On November 4th, America will elect the next president of the United States. Whether you are a Democrat, a Republican or support an independent candidate, it is not too late for your voice to be heard. 
By Joe Montague, exclusive rights reserved

Joe Montague is an internationally published journalist / photographer and the publisher of Riveting Riffs, . His ministry is dedicated to the memory of his late son Kent David Montague who went to heaven at the age of 18. All copyright and distribution rights remain the property of Joe Montague. 


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