There is no denying that in Canada, public policy today is going to affect our lives tomorrow. Even this week in the debates between the various leaders of the political parties, we heard how every vote for them is going to change the way we live and do business. I am sure that you, like most Canadians, are wrestling with the decision of who we want to lead our country for the next 4 years. I thought I would take the time to help us think biblically about what is going to happen in the next few weeks.
But first, let me make it abundantly clear that I or anyone else in church leadership should ever assert for one party over another publicly in the church. Who you vote for is between you and God, and the role of a pastor or ministry leader is not to endorse one candidate over the other in a public church life forum. This is seen as an abuse of power and I have tried to be careful as I possibly can. I’ve even gone so far as to not have a political party sign on my lawn in case it puts pressure on people to vote for the candidate of my choosing. Even though I know I could put up a sign, I don’t want to ever be criticized for being overtly “one-sided” in my relationships with neighbours. Politics can divide and if I am trying to build bridges with my neighbours, why would I let a sign get in the way? That’s my personal conviction, not that of Calvary.
But what I can do is this – I can call the church (you and I) to respond to the issues and candidates from the framework of what the Bible teaches about society, government, freedoms and conscious. The Bible speaks about issues the issues we face. We can respond biblically to the questions of medically assisted death, religious freedom, palliative care, human trafficking, refugees, child and youth in government care, poverty and homelessness, etc. We need to make sure we understand what the Bible teaches about these issues and seek the candidate that we feel would best lead our country to reflect our opinions. We then vote and trust God. Once we have a government in place, we are then called to support what we can.
Romans 13 teaches the church that the governments that are put in place are ordained by God. This means that we are to submit to their authority and also to pray for them and pray that they lead and govern diligently and honestly. Even if we disagree with their policies, we are still to respond in a Christ-like manner and pray that they are open to God leading their lives and ability to make wise decisions. Also, 1 Timothy 2:2 says that we pray for them that they would let us continue to lead peaceful lives and practice our faith in freedom and security
With this in mind though, it still means that we do have a part to play in the election process. The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada has created a website to help Christians think through the issues and vote in a manner that reflects our faith and practice: http://www.theefc.ca/Election2019
So, what can we do?
- Pray for our current elective officials – pray that God would break into their lives and that they would come to know Christ if they already do not. If they do believe, that their belief would lead them in making wise and thoughtful decisions on policies that affect our society.
- Pray for those who are seeking to be elected or re-elected – God is sovereign and we can ask God to show His power by putting the best candidate in the seat.
- Pray for those who will vote – we have a big problem with people not exercising their freedom to vote. Pray that many would make the effort to get familiar with the issues and vote intelligently. Use the EFC voter guide. Talk to others. Read the websites. Plan to get out and vote.
- Pray for our country – Our country is at cross-roads and we ask that God would provide the peace and love of neighbours to persevere through our differences.
This year, our church facility will be a voting station. We are happy to see our building used to bring the community-at-large together. Voting is important and even though we don’t publicly endorse one candidate over the other, we want Burlington to see that we do care about the process and are praying that God would lead our nation to the right government for the next 4 years.
So we pray, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6: 9-10).
Aaron Groat, Senior Pastor
Stories shape us. They remind us where we have been, and encourage us for the journey ahead. On May 26th we'll be telling stories and asking some important questions. What is the impact of your faith as you live out your life, and what is the impact of our church on the community around us.
After the service there will be a free BBQ with special guests Forest Cliff Camp. All are invited; mark your calendars and plan to attend. We can't wait to see you!
When it comes to the local church, times have changed. A few generations ago, the local church was a natural hub for the community – a connecting point – providing support and services to the entire neighbourhood. But in recent years many churches have struggled to balance gospel-centred ministries with community-centred programs. How much time should we give over to programs and events where the Word is not preached and there is no opportunity to come to Christ?
Several years ago, a ministry leader said to me, "We are a church, not a social program." Ouch. That’s a little harsh. He’s right though, we absolutely should be making disciples who love God. But we also need to love people and serve the world.
It would be so much easier if the Bible said, “Pick one - would you like to love God, love people, or would you prefer to serve the world?"
I can love God when I read my Bible, making notes in the margins and whispering “Amen!” at the encouraging parts. I can love people by making meals or talking to them when they are feeling blue. And I can serve the world by giving my money to organizations that are doing great work.
But in actual fact, for the Christ-follower, loving God comes first and the rest follows closely behind. You see it is out of the overflow of loving God that we love the people that He has placed in our lives. 1 John 4:19-21 says, “We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.“ And because Jesus Christ lay down His life for those He loved, we also die to self and serve others.
As a church we are committed to our neighbours. Calvary provides free space for GirlZone, a group presented by Boys & Girls Club, plus a playgroup for parents who are newer to the country or who need support, and for the Halton Prenatal Program (HPNP) for expectant and new mothers.
A number of people from Calvary are involved in a community Food For Life program, and we provide space and support for community endeavours such as North BurLINKton Dinner Night Out and 55+ Lunch, partnerships with Halton Police, and more. At different times of the year we collect shoeboxes of toys, baby bottles of coins, and a variety of food and hygiene items for our community. We run movie nights, game nights, pizza nights, student hangouts... the list goes on.
We don't tell you this to pump ourselves up, rather to help you see that Calvary is extensively involved in our community on many different levels. What happens on a Sunday morning is exceedingly valuable, but it's just a piece of the puzzle that makes up our church calendar.
So the question remains - since we are a church, how much time should we give over to programs that are not Theocentric? For the answer we look to Scripture. 2 Corinthians 4:5 says, “For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake.” Church, everything we do is God-centred because it begins with a love for Jesus and a desire to serve Him and the people He has placed in this community. We love others because we are loved, and we serve others because He served us and laid His life down for the church.
While we are not a social program or community centre, God has strategically placed us in the centre of the Mountainside community for a reason.
Curious about some of these things we've listed? Find out if you can drop in and see, or even if you can support some of the programs that are happening. Maybe GirlZone would like you to organize snack or teach a game. Dinner Night Out could need you to wash dishes or make coffee. You might be the ideal person to spearhead the next church BBQ or games night.
Love God? Love people? Serve the world? I’m thankful that we don’t have to pick just one. By God’s grace and through His love we have the privilege of engaging in all three.
Each week we post about a range of things from the Christian life, faith and more.
In these posts we hope you'll catch a glimpse of ordinary people who serve an extraordinary God.