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Between the Vote

“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.” Romans 13:1a (NIV)
 
Christians are commanded to take an active part in their government (Rom. 13:6-7). As we face a new presidency, active involvement generally translates into voting. We discuss the issues and candidates involved; where we stand and whether our perspective has changed over the years.

What if, however, voting is the easiest form of influencing how our communities are governed? We can spend our time going back and forth about which presidential candidate (or local leader) we will choose, but how do we use the time in between elections to work out our Christian imperative? And if we are using that time, are we advancing God’s kingdom or our own moral beliefs? Voting is not the first step in our civic duties—it is the last step. We do it to ensure all the work in between casting the vote is preserved and continued. 

       It is the “in-between” times of voting that has given me the most trouble in the last few years. The past eight years have revealed that our country is hurting more than ever in regards to race, justice, and gender equality. How do I, a black woman, navigate through feelings of resentment, bitterness, and a sense of superiority?

I know the feelings do not reflect God, but the hard part is letting them go in the face of the atrocities revealed on every social media outlet and rehashed in the news. I struggle to give my feelings over to God. How do we keep the perspective of the whole kingdom while doing work in the valley?

Recently, I spoke with Brittany White, a professional organizer for the "LIVE FREE" campaign and a woman who was formerly incarcerated in Alabama state for five years. Her work in the Dallas-Fort Worth communities is directed by Faith In Texas, an organization that falls under the PICO National Network. PICO is an acronym for People Improving Communities through Organizing.

Watching Ms. White work is a humbling experience because she never questions where God puts her to do His work. Noticeably, I have observed her accepting people of all races and beliefs, even the most bigoted beliefs, to have conversations that move our communities toward unity. Her time is spent organizing individuals who were formerly incarcerated, and their supporters, to help end mass incarceration. Her specific demographic is the African-American and Hispanic communities, but she believes her work crosses race and gender.

I asked Ms. White where the faith part of her work comes in and she immediately said, “My whole work is faith. There is no way I can do what I do and see what I see without faith in God. It’s too hard.”

She went on to say, “I work in communities where there is no immediate change.” To paraphrase Ms. White, until we feel the sting of true sacrifice that comes with civic engagement, we will continue to feel resentful. Ms. White said, “We have to see people like Jesus saw people. His only concern was for their soul.” 

She continued, “I never understood fear until I worked with illegal immigrants who live in fear of being deported. They are mistreated and underpaid, but can’t do anything about it.”

With her usual frankness, Ms. White finished her explanation, “You want a quote? Here it is: We [have] become too complacent as Christians because we are used to instant gratification. We like soup kitchens and mission work because we see immediate results, but we don’t have to stay there. Our faith is too comfortable.”

That pricks. My own feelings are the result of my own pride and focus on myself. My direct work in the church and my work outside the walls of the church should always reflect God. Most importantly, I need to be found working. Not just every two and four years, but always being about my father’s business.

How will you commit your time after November 8, 2016? How will you spend the time in between the votes?

Dear God, protect me against complacency in civic duty and give me the desire to sacrifice for the sake of your kingdom. In Jesus name, Amen.

Written by: Nikki Hearon
 
Don't forget to vote today!

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