I was reminded this weekend by my good friend, Pastor and Ohio State Representative Tim Ginter of the words of one of our founding father John Hancock “I beseech you by all that is dear, by all that is honorable, by all that is sacred, not only that you pray, but that you act” This I believe underscores the intention our founders had as they gave to us not only their example but their words emphasizing that it’s more than just a right, but a right given to us by God whom they understood to be an indispensable part of the revolution. Founding father Samuel Adams said, “Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote that he is not making a present or a compliment to please an individual – or at least that he ought not so to do; but that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country.”
Daniel Webster reminded us of the influence we should have on our children who will follow in our footsteps, “Impress upon children the truth that the exercise of the elective franchise is a social duty as solemn a nature as man can be called to perform; that a man may not innocently trifle with his vote; that every elector is a trustee as well for others as himself and that every measure he supports has an important bearing on the interests of others as well as on his own.” These words underscore the truth that the voice of believers across America needs to be heard at the ballot box now more than ever!
I recently came across “The Decay of Conscience,” a very poignant piece written by Charles G. Finney (1792–1875). Finney was the leading revivalist of the 19th century. He also served as the president of Oberlin College from 1851 to 1866, during which time America was embroiled in the Civil War. Over 160 years later, his words still sound a needed alarm! If there is a decay of conscience, the pulpit is responsible. If the public press lacks moral discrimination, the pulpit is responsible for it. If the church is degenerate and worldly, the pulpit is responsible for it. If the world loses its interest in religion, the pulpit is responsible for it. If Satan rules in our halls of legislation, the pulpit is responsible for it. If our politics become so corrupt that the very foundations of our government are ready to fall away, the pulpit is responsible for Christian influence, a Christian’s voice at the ballot box and good old-fashioned Christian Courage are as important today as they have ever been in the history of our Republic.
Courage. Think about that word for just a second. The building blocks of character are many. The four classic Greek virtues include prudence, justice, temperance and courage and the three Christian virtues faith, hope and love come quickly to mind. The fourth of these seven is courage. Courage is not a lack of fear. It is the courage to do what’s right in the face of fear. Jerry Root & Stan Guthrie in Sacrament of Evangelism writes, “it’s the habit of saying yes to the right action even at the risk of pain or loss.” Courage never gives up; courage sticks with the task until it’s done. Courage faces one’s fears and does the right thing in spite of it.
Noah Webster wrote, “When you become entitled to exercise the right of voting for public officers, let it be impressed upon your mind that God commands you to choose for rulers “just men who will rule in the fear of God.” The preservation of government depends on the faithful discharge of this duty; if the citizens neglect their duty and place unprincipled men in office, the government will soon be corrupted; laws will be made, not for the public good so much as for selfish or local purposes; corrupt or incompetent men will be appointed to execute the laws; the public revenues will be squandered on unworthy men; and the rights of the citizens will be violated or disregarded.” Let us not shirk our responsibility to God, our responsibility to those who will come after us, and our responsibility to those who willingly shed their blood for our freedom.
Allow me to close with a few words from a speech given by Ronald Reagan in July of 1980… “I have thought of something that is not a part of my speech and I’m worried over whether I should do it. Can we doubt that only a divine providence placed this land, this island of freedom, here as a refuge for all those people in the world who yearn to breath freely: … I’ll confess that I’ve been a little afraid to suggest what I’m going to suggest. I’m more afraid not to. Can we begin our crusade joined together in a moment of silent prayer?” Let us Pray and then take action… let us Vote!
Tim Throckmorton is the former executive pastor for Plymouth Heights Church of the Nazarene in Franklin Furnace, Ohio, and Portsmouth First Church of the Nazarene. He is currently senior pastor at Crossroads Church in Circleville, Ohio.