I Want a King

In Tanzania we don’t have a TV, we don’t have cable, or the normal shows on Hulu and definitely don’t have my personal favorite, ESPN. Naturally, I’ve enjoyed getting to watch a little bit as we’ve been staying at Melissa’s parents house the last couple weeks. If you watch football, you know that they cut to commercial break every chance they get and in this particular season that means a lot of political ads. ‘Incessant’ would be a word that I’d use.

I’m not a fan of most of them. Some of them seem on-point and might have some sway, but the ones that I dislike the most are the negative ads. Twenty-eight seconds of dark footage, dreary music and a foreboding voice telling you how a particular politician is going to single-handedly destroy the country if elected to office. Two seconds of a video with a happy multi-racial, multi-generational group and the opposing politician saying “I’m so and so and I approve this message.” If anything it makes me want to vote against the person that approves the message. The whole deal kind of makes me sick.

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Source – https://www.flickr.com/photos/truthout/

I asked Melissa’s stepdad if he had the voter information packet that they send out and he gave it to me. I try to be an informed voter as best I can and had a bit to catch up on having been in Tanzania the last year. I was going through the different propositions and the pro’s and con’s list that they have for each one. These three big important people are for it and these three big important people are against it. Again, the balance of the entire state rests on this one ballot measure, or so it seems. As I was flipping through and having a hard time deciding between all the different options, I had this thought come to mind, “I don’t want to do this. I want someone to decide for me.”

I know what you might be thinking. Brandon isn’t going to vote and he’s going to tell us we shouldn’t bother either. That’s not the case, I will vote tomorrow and you should too.

The thing is, I want a king. I want a good King that knows my heart, would give His life for me and wants to put me on the right path. I want Jesus to rule.

I have been on a political journey over the last ten years. I turned 18 in 2004 and was so happy that I got to vote in the major elections that year. I had my elephant badge on quite straight and cast my vote for W. at the San Miguel Community Center. I had plans to study history and political science at university and potentially try my hand in the political arena after college. When I think back to that and realize that was actually in my head at any point in my life, I’m astonished.

I did go off to school at Vanguard and did enter as a history and political science major, that plan started to change as I realized I wanted to teach little kids. Then I had professors that actually challenged me to think critically about what I believed and why. More importantly, they challenged me to compare planks in my political platform (or the Republican platform which I identified with) to that of the Bible.

As a Republican, for example, I supported the death penalty. I would quip that the people deserved to die for what they had done – those heinous and evil crimes. I then started to think about Jesus and what He did when presented with the woman in John’s gospel who was caught in the act of adultery, a crime that by law was punishable by death. He didn’t condemn her, but showed her grace and told her to go and sin no more. I also started to consider within this political framework some of Paul’s most famous words from Romans. “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (3:23). “For the wages of sin is death” (6:23a). According to the Bible, it’s not just those bad people on death row, actually I am also deserving of death. But Paul continues on that we can be “justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (3:24) and that the “gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (6:23b). God showed grace to people on death row.

All of a sudden I lose the plank in my platform. Then I started to read Shane Claiborne. Yes, I was one of those. I still am, kind of. Over a couple years, I was so moved that I actually wrote in “Jesus of Nazareth” on my 2008 presidential ballot. Granted, he’s not an American citizen but I felt pretty confident that God knew what I meant by that. It was worth the heat that I caught from one friend on Facebook that I was wasting my vote and not taking this seriously enough. No biggie. I resolved that my vote for president didn’t matter anyway by virtue of living in California. I just couldn’t bring myself to vote for McCain or Obama as they both had huge deal breakers for me.

Time continued to pass along. I lived in Tanzania, got married, had a kid and when the 2012 elections rolled around I had settled down a little bit and decided I would vote for an eligible person for president this time around. That man was Virgil Goode of the Constitution Party. He wasn’t on the ballot in CA (was only on the ballot in 17 states), but he was the candidate that I identified most with and I have grown to really dislike the two-party system. The only way to change something is if people decide to start doing something different. What a novel idea.

In living in Tanzania, I’ve experienced another government that is more overtly corrupt than ours and that is also a bit disheartening. The opposition party is strong in Kilimanjaro, but the same party has, nonetheless, ruled since independence 50 years ago. I have friends that support ChaDema and put their hope that if they took office in Dodoma things would be different. Then I realize that my friends in the states are the same way. So much of their hope is in the Republicans or the Democrats or this person or that cause.

But I want a king. My hope, all of my hope, is in Jesus. If the people that are elected tomorrow or in 2016 aren’t the people that I voted for, I will not bat an eye. They aren’t the ones that are in charge of my life. Jesus is. Jesus is on the throne and we cannot thwart that. I am not going to be one of those that after an election or supreme court decision writes of America as going to hell in hand basket. That would almost assume that America was in heaven at some point which I don’t buy in the least bit.

Interestingly, Jesus’ foremost message was about the Kingdom of God. A Kingdom is a form of government where one guy makes all the decisions. Furthermore He says that this Kingdom is at hand – as in it’s within reach. He tells us to repent and believe in the Gospel (Mark 1:15). We have to repent, we have to humble ourselves and change the destructive patterns that we’ve been working in. We have to believe that the Gospel message is true and should be central to our lives, our families, our homes, our societies and our Facebook posts.

You should vote tomorrow and you should utilize the political capability that you have as an American citizen. We should also pray tomorrow. We should pray for God’s hand over the elections and even more so over the problems that this state, this country and this world face. If things don’t go the way you’d like tomorrow, don’t fret. If Jesus is your King, you’re already on the winning side and nothing could ever change that. 

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Author: Brandon Stiver

I am a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, living and working in Moshi, Tanzania. My wife is named Melissa and we have three children: Moses, Promise and Shepherd. We are directors over an orphan care ministry called Kingdom Families; advocating for the needs of orphans and vulnerable children and assisting families to welcome them into their homes as sons and daughters.

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