“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God…” (Romans 12: 2)
“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest? He said to him, “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind,’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 22: 36-38)
I turned 18 in the summer of 2008, as the race for the presidency echoed on every newsstand and network. That fall, on one rainy September afternoon, Obama’s calls for hope & change rang across my small college campus, where 26,000 gathered to watch him speak. Street corners burst with signage for national and local political leaders. I spent hours watching debates, reading articles and having conversations with my classmates, all in preparation to cast my first ballot.
As is the case with many young people, most of my voting has been done by absentee ballot as my schedule often finds me away from home on Election Day. I still feel a surge of pride when I drop my ballot in the mailbox. I am grateful for the opportunity to be part of something bigger than myself. However, voting in person provides a visceral connection to this imperative responsibility of being a citizen. We walk or drive or bike through our neighborhoods on the way to the polls, passing those affected by the policies that we elect individuals to uphold or reform. Scripture tells us that whatever we do unto the least of these, we do unto Christ himself. In this way of seeing, we immerse ourselves in a community where Christ is our neighbor. We must not look away.
Called to Renew Our Minds
We are called in faith to be active, informed participants in the communities of our lives – our churches, our neighborhoods, our country and our world. When Jesus charges his disciples to love their neighbors as themselves, he asks us to consider the neighbors that don’t look like us, or speak like us, or attend the same churches as us. The gospels constantly remind us that the community, the KINdom of God, is vaster than we allow ourselves to imagine. We are called to constantly be “transformed by the renewing of our minds”. To me, this renewing looks like a call to pray & discern, to do our research, to become informed about the issues that impact our neighbors here and abroad.
Lifting Our Voices, Lifting Our Votes
The privilege to vote is one of the most active ways we as people of faith can take our hopes and prayers for the world outside the church walls. When we open our eyes to the concerns of our communities, listen to those whose voices are marginalized by political systems and consider the way our government impacts individuals, we are striving to be the type of neighbor Jesus describes in Matthew’s Gospel. Repeatedly throughout the gospels, Jesus challenges assumptions about the disciples’ roles in community, calling to their attention the ways they can step outside their personal circles to be better servants in the world. Still today, Jesus challenges our assumptions and calls us out into the world every day.
Study, listen, pray, discern, lift your voice, and lift your vote – the world needs it.
1. Have you taken time to listen for the Holy Spirit in your life lately?
2. How are you making space for the Holy in your daily life?
3. How are you actively engaged in your community, locally & nationally? How is your church or ministry engaged in the community outside its walls?
4. How do you understand the relationship between your faith and your vote? Why?
5. Do you have a voting plan? Make time this week to read up on your midterm ballot initiatives and candidates.
Kyle Lefler serves as the Program Coordinator at Flathead Lutheran Bible Camp in Lakeside, MT. Her work at FLBC includes overseeing year round retreat programming, onsite summer camp operations & making sure all the ice cream in the canteen is fit to sell, among other things. Kyle is passionate about working with young people in God’s Creation and striving to create intentional community spaces where they are unconditionally loved & accepted, empowered & advocated for. She loves early morning lake swims, handwritten letters & the Avett Brothers.