Spectator or Participant

There has been an interesting phenomenon in our society that has been taking a good turn these days. It is the movement from being just a spectator to a participant in life. See, being a spectator had become natural in our society. We are taught it’s fun to watch sports, TV, movies, escapades of celebrities for tabloid sales, shows, and communication (including social media) get more and more followers. We love to spectate, even to the point where we choose not to participate, not to make a contribution of some kind.

However, over these past few years and even today that is changing. More and more people are getting involved. Volunteer rates continue to increase in America as people want to participate. Service clubs and efforts are gaining involvement and publicity. Even the TV show “What Would You Do?” highlights and affirms people getting involved in uncomfortable and awkward social incidences to help. Participation is valued, encouraged and affirmed.

Though participation is encouraged, we still have this pull to just spectate in life. Maybe it’s because we are so stressed and our lives are too full we just don’t have time to get involved, so we sit on the sidelines and just watch. Maybe we don’t participate because we are too self-focused, and if we can’t see the benefit for us we just as soon would rather watch or participate in something that profits us. Yet Jesus was clear we are called to participate. In Luke 10:25-37 (the parable of the Good Samaritan) He challenged us to be active in faith and…

Luke 10:27 He answered: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”

How we participate in loving our neighbor is found in how the Samaritan cared for a victim of a brutal robbery. (Read the story again it will contribute to what we are talking about.)

As well, Jesus challenges our participation with both the government and things of God in Matthew 22:15-22 (the account is also in Mark 12:13-17 and in Luke 20:20-26) where we are told to “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” In other words, participate in the country God places you in and most certainly participate in God’s purposes always. We are not to just spectate, for it is expected we are active.

With this in mind the question comes, “How can we participate in the upcoming election?” Let me suggest 3 ways.

First PRAY.
1 Thessalonians 5:17 pray continually;

Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

1 Timothy 2:1-2 I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone– for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.

And as James 5:17b says; “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” So pray for God’s will and God’s best to come out in this election. Pray for peace and the common good for your city, state, and nation. Regardless if you can vote, we all can and should pray for our city, state and nation

As well, let me encourage you to KNOW; to gain knowledge about bills, propositions, and candidates. Yes it will take some research and looking at multiple resources, but know what the issues are and what the vote is for. Even if you can’t participate in the vote, know the issues so you can participate in discussions.

Proverbs 1:5 let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance–

Proverbs 2:10-11 For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you.

Lastly, participate by showing CARE; to care about your city, state, and country.

Jeremiah 29:7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”

Sometime read this whole chapter in Jeremiah and the circumstances where God said this to His people. It is an encouragement and challenge to us as well to participate; take action in our city, state, and country to promote the common good of where we live. To care about our economy, the heath and care of people, the aid to those who struggle, the climate of love and community, the environment, and so on. To love the city, state, and country God has placed us in.

Yet we are not to try to force people through the government to believe like us or to change other’s heart to love the Lord through legislation. Christian values are wonderful and we should vote for the common good as we seek care for our nation. However, as Richard Lee writes in an article challenging Christians how to participate in this next election, “We are not trying to legislate Christianity. That did not work for Constantine, nor the Crusades. And it won’t work today…We should not force people to follow morals without faith.” Jesus called people like that hypocrites and if you read Matthew 23 you will see Jesus reaming the Pharisees for promoting that lifestyle. Life change comes from individuals encountering Jesus and aligning life His way. Yet we can and should participate and vote (if we are able) for the common good of our city, state and country.

Now we could spend hours talking about participating in the purposes of God, “giving to God what is God’s,” but being we are in the throes of a political frenzy with a big vote in just weeks, I wanted to encourage us all to participate. It would be so easy to just sit back and spectate, but God has us all here for ‘such a time as this’ (this is a phrase that comes from the Bible book of Esther 4:14…to get the full meaning you really need to read the whole book of Esther). So yes, we are here because God wants us to participate. So do pray, know, and care.

Seeking to participate in this election with you,

Mike

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