I was born in 1971. I voted in a presidential election for the first time in 1992. In all the years of voting eligibility, I don’t think I’ve ever been so burdened by the future of our country’s leadership. Somehow, I must strike a balance between fear, which is not spiritually justifiable, and prayerful burden. What is left for us? God calls us to be instruments of reform, equipped with the life-changing message of His grace poured out on the cross of Jesus Christ. If that is the case, what should our response be to the election happening on Tuesday, November 8?
I’d like to take a few minutes and make four observations about all of this. Hopefully it helps, and hopefully I fulfill my responsibility as care-giver of the body of Faith Christian Fellowship.
- My first observation is for those of you inclined to vote for candidates upholding and issues found in the Democratic platform. While many of the issues found in the 55-page document that describes the party’s platform (https://www.demconvention.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Democratic-Party-Platform-7.21.16-no-lines.pdf) are subjective and debatable among Christian men and women, several are indicators of something very disheartening. Certain subjects indicate a party that has embraced a culture of death above life (abortion), and a rejection of principles that are clearly described in Scripture (decency, sexuality, and gender identity). The call among believers in the Lord Jesus Christ is not to pronounce judgment on people who are caught in the devastating cycle of brokenness and sin. But as Christians who live in a society that allows civic participation, we must ask ourselves how our vote is not an endorsement of those who embrace and promote godless, destructive choices.
- My second observation is for those of you inclined to vote for candidates upholding and issues found in the Republican platform. Again, most of the specific issues are debatable among people of faith. (https://prod-static-ngop-pbl.s3.amazonaws.com/media/documents/DRAFT_12_FINAL-ben_1468872234.pdf) My concern is for those among us who presume that God’s kingdom will rise and fall on the results of this election, especially if the results favor the other party’s candidates. That is a misguided fear. I am speaking to cultural and political conservatives who dangerously link the government of the United States with the kingdom of Jesus Christ. The first is a gracious gift to the world that comes with rights and responsibilities in this life. The second is eternal and unthwartable by any earthly or spiritual agent. Furthermore, it is our benevolent Sovereign that appoints intermediary rulers for His purposes. After the results of this election, we can be assured that He is not at a disadvantage. He has reason for the outcomes that He Himself has permitted.
- My third observation is for the ever-growing group of believers who are unwilling to engage in this difficult process altogether. While that is your personal prerogative and liberty in Christ, please don’t use Scripture to embolden your argument. Our specific form of government is not described in the Bible, so we are left to apply Biblical principles to the current situation. It is true that neither Jesus nor the apostles attempt to change the world through government. Even Jesus Himself says, “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s” (Luke 20.25; a statement that seems to imply indifference to government concerns in comparison to His far-greater work of redemption). However, to argue that the Bible instructs us to despise and ignore these matters is incorrect. We are asked to pray for leaders (1 Timothy 2.1-4), both godly and godless. Government officials are viewed as ministers in their own right, they serve a God-ordained purpose and they should be embraced by believers as protecting good and punishing evil (Romans 13.1-5). Paul even calls for appropriate levels of participation (Romans 13.6-7). In our case, voting and general, civic involvement can also be seen a matter of stewardship, like any other gift God gives to His people. Again, because our form of governance is not explicitly described in Scripture, we don’t see it modeled. But in all other areas of privilege and blessing, believers are called to steward each one with the intent on doing good and displaying the character and heart of God. Many of the reforms of earthly governments throughout history have happened at the hands of believers acting in faith. If you are compelled to get involved, maybe for the first time, I share with you a useful tool (elections at the federal level): http://home.ivoterguide.com/ (I also encourage you to research similar resources for your specific locale, in MD, PA, and WV.)
- This is my last, but most alarming caution. Why are Christians hurling insults and accusations about these matters at one another, particularly in the public square?! May it not be! One of the best tools we have to fight sin’s strongholds in the world is our unity. Among all my cautions, I detail this one with the strongest alert…do not be deceived that punches against our own will endear us to those who despise us in the first place! It won’t work. We can have our disagreements on these preferential issues, but they must find their conclusion in love and unity above all else.
If there is one good about the confusion of the moment, it may be our utter reliance on God in ways we never have felt before. We are more than ever reminded that we cannot solve these problems apart from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and an unleashing of His Spirit upon brokenness and sin. Please pray and search the heart of God found in His word! I believe these ARE significant days. May God bless His people who act in faith.
“For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.”—2 Chronicles 16.9a
“and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”—Romans 8.27