From Walter Kim, President, National Association of Evangelicals
For U.S. citizens, the next couple weeks have many of us focused on one of the fundamental responsibilities of our citizenship: to vote, electing our governmental leaders. The right to vote is a significant responsibility – one not available to all people in our world – and we ought to approach our vote with a sense of stewardship.
In another sense, though, now is a critical moment to remember that, for those of who follow Jesus and claim the Bible as our primary authority for life, our citizenship in the United States must be distinctly secondary to our citizenship in God’s kingdom (Philippians 3:20). As the author of Hebrews writes, we are “foreigners and strangers on earth,” always “longing for a better country” (1 Peter 2:11, Hebrews 11:13-16). As biblical scholar Daniel Carroll observes, migration is repeatedly referenced in the New Testament as a metaphor for the Christian life: we live in one place – and should seek its good – but we belong to another.
To be a disciple of Jesus and a citizen of His kingdom means that our first allegiance can never be to a political party or a nation state. The primacy of our faith means that we approach voting and policy matters guided by our faith. Fairly or unfairly, many outside of American evangelical Christianity seem to have misunderstood our movement as defined first and foremost as a partisan movement, so it’s important that we clearly state that our commitment is to the authority of the Scriptures – and that we repent for when we have failed to live out the commands of Scripture.
Toward that end, earlier this month we at the National Association of Evangelicals joined with our friends at World Relief and with leaders from various other evangelical denominations, organizations and churches – including leaders from many of the organizations that lead the Evangelical Immigration Table with us – to release a new statement, A Call to Civic Responsibility for the Health of the Nation. The statement calls for us to repent, including for having not always fulfilled God’s commands to protect the immigrant, refugee and poor. It calls us to renew our commitment to a biblically balanced policy agenda drawn from the 2004 For the Health of the Nation statement. Finally, it commits us to resolve to prayerfully engage the current moment in ways that reflect God’s love and justice.
This statement is explicitly not a statement of which party or candidate to support; different Christians will come to different conclusions as they weigh the important issues facing our nation. Instead, it is a call for us to root our identity first and foremost in our faith, engaging those who hold differing opinions – both inside and outside of our faith – in ways that affirm the dignity God has placed in each person.
- That the Church would earn a reputation for faithfulness to Scripture, and not be coopted by political agendas
- That we would consistently seek racial justice and reconciliation, asking for and extending forgiveness on an individual, local and national level when appropriate
- That we would uphold a comprehensive pro-life ethic that protects both the unborn and the vulnerable of all ages
- That we would embody God’s love for all, treating people with dignity even when we must confront them as required by our Christian conscience and convictions
- That we would never forget that our first allegiance is to Christ and His kingdom
President, National Association of Evangelicals