On The Privilege of Voting

I love this country! My paternal grandparents were kicked out of Poland because of religious and racial persecution. Their home was burned to the ground by sanction of the religious authorities and local officials (That’s a story I hope to share with you in the future). Immediately following these acts of violence my father’s family fled to Argentina with nothing more in their possession than what they could fit in a couple of suitcases and the clothes they wore as they fled. In Argentina, my dad grew up in a land that needed immigrant labor but tenuously tolerated its presence. In fact, when he became an adult he was never allowed to pursue citizenship because he was an evangelical Christian of dubious Eastern European heritage – i.e., he was of the wrong religion and race. The Tolopilos were a family without a country.

Jumping forward a few decades, in the early fifties my dad (a Baptist Pastor) began to have a burden to plant a church among the growing Latino population of Southern California. At the time, that was unheard of; however, he figured that if the Lord was of the same heart with him then God would provide passage into what my father believed was the greatest country on earth. He applied for visas to immigrate and nine years later the United States of America opened its doors to our little clan of misfits; my father and mother, my two older brothers and myself.

In 1966, we boarded a Pan Am 707 and legally made our way to America. The US welcomed us, and it didn’t simply take us in; this country didn’t merely tolerate us, it embraced us and made a promise to us. The promise was as simple as it was breathtaking in its generosity. The United States of America vowed that if we worked responsibly and obeyed the laws of the land, after five years we could become one of their own, US citizens, regardless of our racial background or religious beliefs! Are you kidding me? No, I am not! If you’re not astounded by that, then perhaps you have forgotten how wonderful it is to be an American.

We kept our nose clean and as promised eventually our entire family became US citizens with full rights and with the power to hire and fire representation at a local, state, and federal level. We spent a couple generations running away from the powers who ruled, now we were part of a process that elected them. Wow! For the Tolopilos, voting is a treasured privilege.

For years on election day my dad put on his Sunday best – including his black fedora – and with confidence in his step made his way to the polling booth. This election, because of failing health, he will vote from home, but he will vote because he loves the country that embraced him and his family as if they were native sons. Voting is a privilege. We encourage you to avail yourself of the right.

Four Biblical Reminders for the Present Political Season

The much anticipated election cycle is upon us. Few events can arouse such deep hope and fear, elation and despair, camaraderie and contempt in people as vigorous elections. In these weeks leading up to November sixth, I wanted to remind you of four truths that will help you and I keep our biblical perspective – and hopefully our wits – during this intense campaign season. We encourage you to vote and as you prepare to vote, remember …

1. Be in prayer for our beloved country, our incumbent rulers, and those who are running for office. Aside from submission to governing authorities (Romans 13:1-7), our greatest responsibility toward rulers and realm is prayer.

“First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior.” 
(1 Timothy 2:1-3)

2. Be civil and gracious to all people
People who do not agree with you or I politically should not be the target of our wrath – believe me, the Tolopilos are acquainted with political wrath (see above article)! Even if they express views that are anti-biblical, remember Christ is reaching out to them through the gospel as He did to you and I when we were enemies of God (Romans 5:6-10). That being true, pray for them and show them the love of Christ by being civil and gracious.

Directly on the coattails of Paul’s exhortation to submit ourselves to governing authorities, he gives us this imperative,

“Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.” (Romans 13:8)

3. Vote your biblically fed conscience
We have the amazing privilege of living in a country that allows us, yes, invites and welcomes us to vote our conscience at the polls! Historically speaking, “Oy! What a country!!” This means you and I are free to pray for and to seek biblical wisdom as our voting guide and then to express that conviction in the voting booth.

Glut yourselves on God’s word my friends. Let it feed your thinking and your choices as you approach the voting booth.

“The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.” 
(Psalm 19:7, 8)

4. Take courage, God is sovereign!
Remember God is not empowered nor dethroned by the politics of this world. What’s more, He is using all events – including the plans and schemes, elections and political maneuverings of men – to bring about His great and glorious purposes.

The great Nebuchadnezzar, the most powerful man on earth in his day, recognized the absolute sovereign dominion of God. He confessed of “the Most High,”

“For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, but He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth; and no one can ward off His hand or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’” (Daniel 4:34b, 35)

King David professed,

“The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all.” (Psalm 103:19)

You and I have been given a great privilege, to express our conscience and will through the democratic process of voting. As with any great privilege it is good and acceptable to be passionate about our right, but as we prepare to exercise it remember to be in prayer, be gracious to all men, fill your mind and heart with the word of Christ, and rest in the absolute rule of your Great King in heaven. His magnificent purposes will not be thwarted.

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