In every election cycle the debate amongst well-meaning saints resurfaces. Should Christians vote?
Here are a few ideas to include in our thinking…
1. The privilege to participate in our government
Given that we currently have the privilege to affect government policy through our vote, should we not take advantage of it?
Jesus’ well-known beatitude “Blessed are the peacemakers” supplies a directive for human participation in the divine value of interpersonal peace. How far should we take such directives? Could it be that in the case of systems of government that provide for voter participation we should use our power to vote the politics of peace?
2. The priority of love
In the enduring words of Tina Turner, “What’s love got to do with it?”
Not love for a favorite candidate but for God and our neighbors.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself…Do this, and you will live.” Luke 10:25-28 [ESV]
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” John 13:34 [ESV]
The great commandments have now since Christ become a trinity of directive. “Love God with all your person;” then, as a priority for His students the Savior inserted, “Love your brothers and sisters – fellow believers –as I have loved you;” and to fill out the love trinity, “love your neighbor – any fellow person, even a personal enemy – as yourself.” Love compels me to support that which glorifies God, the well-being of my Christian family and that of our neighbors in general. Casting an informed vote may help.
3. Lifting policy over preference of persons
If we can get both a holy person and great policies all the better.
Diogenes, the Greek philosopher, is rumored to have become famous for two things. First, that he lived in a bathtub and took it with him wherever he went, and second, that he possessed a lamp. It was said that with his lamp he went throughout Athens looking for a man who was honest. Legend says that before he could attain success his lamp went out. His search ended in futility.
Our favored leaders may be nice, well-spoken, charismatic and our favorite color but immoral in policy.
A believer knows it is the Spirit of God and not government policy that bears the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22). Wherever love exists, even in its weakest expression, God is the reason.
However, on the other side of that coin we are instructed to pray for our ‘king’ for the sake of a continuing atmosphere conducive to living peaceably and the freedom to share Christ (I Timothy 2:1-5). To pray for what we want, yet to do nothing to advance a policy that would support the answer may be considered irresponsible.
4. The prompting of conscience
“How can we expect people to “vote their values” when they can’t even define what those values are, and they struggle to articulate what they believe and why they believe it?” Ruth Malhotra, Public Relations Manager at RZIM (Ravi Zacharias International Mission)
“We face a worldview challenge that is far greater than any political challenge, as we must learn how to winsomely convince Americans to share our moral convictions.” Dr. Al Mohler, “Aftermath: Lessons from the 2012 Election” (November 7, 2012)
Our consciences resonate according to what we value morally. For example: Do we care about abortions and infanticide, or that our freedom to define perversions (wrong behavior) according to our own understanding of the will of God is at risk? At risk is our freedom to teach those definitions in our assemblies, and our freedom to deny participation to those that refuse to comply. Others are eager to band together to take your freedom away by voting for leaders and policy makers that support their viewpoint – what about us?
Oz Guinness warns us that "in the end the ultimate threat to the American republic will be Americans. The problem is not wolves at the door but termites in the floor. The future of the republic depends on whether Americans will rise to the challenge of living up to America's unfulfilled potential for freedom, both for itself and for the world.”
Oz Guinness, A Free People's Suicide: Sustainable Freedom and the American Future, InterVarsity Press, 2012
5. The practice of faith
We know perhaps most clearly from the Apostle Paul that the Lord is the originator of governments as inherent to our existence. The very idea of authorities and policies that govern us is from Him - so are the outcomes of coups, revolutions, conquests and elections. Most of us are unable to predict them, but we know from many places in Scripture that the Lord is the one who ultimately decides. The Queen of Sheba knew this about Solomon (I Kings 10:9), Daniel knew this about Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4:32) and Solomon wrote it in proverb form saying, “The lot is tossed into the lap, but their every decision is from the Lord.” Proverbs 16:33
We also know that faith without works is dead (James 2:17, 18). All living faith is recognizable by the behavior that acts it out. So, when the Christian votes they vote by faith, trusting the hand of the Lord to lead them, and entrusting the outcomes to Him.
Grace today y’all!
“If I had a chance to do it all over again, I would never want to be considered a role model. It was like a game that was stacked against me and there was no chance that I could win.”
(A quote snatched from an interview filmed as a segment during Episode VI in the documentary series "The Last Dance".)
And so it is for all of us.
Had we the ability to sample a cross section of humanity from all people groups and cultures through all human existence we would find Mr. Jordan is not alone in his sentiment. Given time we all become very much aware of our failure to live up to anyone's standard, including our own - much less that of a perceived deity.
Hence the truth in the words "There is no difference, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God"
Watching a documentary on a superstar athlete and the team he played on in the NBA (National Basketball Association), and seeing segment after segment of footage depicting the swarming crowds and media personnel pressing against him, I honestly began to feel a combination of disappointment and anger. Disappointment, because the flaws of my hero of the basketball courts were exposed, and angry because he could not escape it. It was such harassment.
The scrutiny in the repeated questions, microphones up in his face, renewed my admiration for our Savior Jesus for the 33 years of His earthly tenure. The multitudes that pressed on Him to get his attention as He approached the ultimate championship contest of His crucifixion - WOW! Folks could see Him and touch Him, watching Him earnestly for flaws. Yet He could say at any time throughout His unique vocational life as a perceived superstar, "Come unto Me and learn of Me…for I am meek and lowly."
The game was stacked against Him
Recently, CNN news commentator Don Lemon stated, "…Jesus Christ admittedly was not perfect when he was here on the Earth." I pulled this quote from the report of his interview with fellow CNN journalist Chris Cuomo at townhall.com
We're inclined to say things like that from ignorance, but also from incredulity. Don't you find it difficult, on the basis of your own experience, to believe any man could possibly be free of fault?
In Galatians 4:4 the Apostle Paul pointed out that Jesus was "made of a woman, made under the Law (referring to the Law of Moses)." So according to this statement Jesus was human in birth and under the strict scrutiny of an impossible code of morality and ethics which his fellow countrymen were more than willing to hold Him to.
Peter, a student of Jesus for three years, once stated in a missions conference what a relief it was that forgiveness of sins against that Law was now offered to everyone through faith in Jesus Christ. The Law, he intimated, is "a yoke which neither our ancestors nor we could bear (Acts 15:10)."
Yet this same Peter, in a letter of his own also insisted emphatically,
"…Christ…suffered for [us], leaving [us] an example, so that [we] might follow in His steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in His mouth." (1 Peter 2:21-22 [NET] brackets mine)
It's not that it can't happen, it's that based upon my experience and that of everyone around me I've never seen anyone even come close to moral perfection. This is precisely why we are told that common persons like us must "walk by faith and not by sight." (II Corinthians 5:7)
Add to this Luke's record of the Apostle Paul's message to some folks in what is today modern central Turkey. There he related the words of a proud Father in Heaven upon the accomplishment of His unique son's impeccable life and mission, "You are my beloved son, this day I have begotten You." (Acts 13:33 [NASV])
Perhaps you have some other references that come to mind from your Bibles. Suffice to say our Savior is the one and only person that could ever say, "Whoever believes in [ME] will not be disappointed (ashamed by the failure of the One we trust)." (Romans 10:11 [NASV])
For this reason He invites us to trust Him.
Grace today y'all!