“There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.” Audre Lorde
According to author, Will Holcomb, “Single-issue voters are destroying America.” To be accused of being a “single-issue voter” has become an insult, a statement of condescension essentially accusing someone of being a simpleton. The Bible teaches clearly that believers must be “single-issue voters,” but it’s probably not what you think.
Author and Christian commentator, Joel Belz, recently wrote in August 27, 2020 issue of “World Magazine,” “Calling someone a ‘single-issue voter’ may be accurate—but not the fastest way to win that person as a lifelong friend. I know that to be the case based on experience. When someone says I’m a ‘single-issue thinker,’ I hear them calling me shallow, superficial, simplistic, and probably at least a little bit lazy… My bigger fear was that we in the Christian community might continue to fragment on all sorts of key issues.”
After having that accusation hurled at him by a reader, Belz did something we all would be wise to learn from, rather than writing a snarky retort, he reached out to his critic, though he admits that “my first inclination was to scold Bertha a bit and dare her to get off her high horse, check her facts, and admit that maybe she’s the one with a lopsided focus on her own ‘single-issue’.” The outcome of his act of graciousness touched my heart. It should resonate with all of us.
He writes: “It took a few days, but I finally got Bertha on the phone. She was skeptical about my intentions. “I’m frustrated,” I told her, “that we can agree with each other that abortion is evil, and we can agree with each other that racism is evil—and then we tend to part ways just because we can’t seem to agree on a few priorities.”
“Maybe,” she said perceptively, “that’s why there are so many different organizations out there—somebody to cater to every preference!”
My bigger fear was that we in the Christian community might continue to fragment on all sorts of key issues—splintering again and again and thereby minimizing our effectiveness. That’s when it struck me that Bertha and I might be well situated to do something valuable. “How often do you pray,” I asked her, “specifically for deliverance from our nation’s dark racist habits?”
“I try to do that,” she said honestly, “but not nearly as often as I should. It seems easier to read and talk about it than to pray about it.”
“So let me be just as open,” I said. “I am not nearly as faithful as I should be in praying for an end to the evil of abortion. If the two of us aren’t even diligent in praying for the issues we tend to identify with most, who’s going to be praying for those we see as less important? What would happen if great companies of us, smaller groups, or couples were to spend the next 30 days praying regularly for issues and causes we perhaps have never prayed for before?”
With this coming election and with the government in general, we Christians have a variety of concerns that resonate with us and are focal points. There are countless evils that need to be righted, abortion, euthanasia, infringement on religious liberty, racism, injustice…which one should come first. Should one be our “single-issue?” I believe you’d be hard-pressed to come to that conclusion.
Yet, God’s command in 1 Timothy 2:1-5 must be our single issue. “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” That passage always rebukes me. I know that I think, talk, read and watch news about politics far more than I pray. Sadly, the amount of time and focus is not even comparable on a generous percentage scale. The only way that you and I will make a difference is not in the voting booth, it’s in our prayer closet.
Partisan politics have brought terrible division to our country. It’s ruined friendships. Family members stop talking with each other because they disagree on which candidate to vote for. Tragically, that division has contaminated the Church and created tension among the people of God. That’s why prayer not politics must be our priority. Prayer must be our priority not our issue. Notice that we’re commanded to pray for all, not just for those who agree with us.
Paul uses four different words for prayer here – requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving. The first three mean almost the same thing and carry the idea of asking. But then Paul includes thanksgiving as a natural part of prayer. Thanksgiving to God is an essential part of our prayer life. We’re to thank God no matter what, not just when things go our way or when our candidate is elected. All four words are in the plural. It’s a reminder that we should pray continually for all people with all sorts of requests.
What should be our #1 request? “Who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (vs. 4). Can you imagine how our country would be revolutionized if our elected officials, even the ones that we don’t like, came to Christ? It happened to an evil king, Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4).
It’s time for us in the Church to get back to the “single-issue” that will make the most difference – we must pray to our Sovereign God. It’s time for us to join our brothers and sisters whether they’re red, blue or purple in praying for our leaders and praying first for our leaders' salvation. Prayer is the single issue that we are commanded to agree and join together on!
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