This weekend, someone–without permission–dropped a load of voter’s guides on the cars in Calvary’s parking lot. I think it’s a good thing to have a voting guide…and there are a lot of guides out there, aren’t there? From Fox to CNN to MSNBC; from the President to a former President; from Oprah to Mike Lindell (the MyPillow guy); from one political party to the next (And why in the world did we ever put political and party together in the same sentence?) so many guides. So I’m joining the guide-party. Here are 10 Principles for Voting Like a Christian.
1. VOTING IS NOT THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU WILL DO ON TUESDAY. Or at least I hope it isn’t. Start with that perspective. I’ve gone through enough elections—each one labeled as the most important election we have ever faced—to wonder what difference was made. I know, we are passionate about important issues, racism, immigration, abortion, poverty. I’m just not convinced that politics/government is the solution to the issue. I’m not convinced that government will transform your life, family or neighborhood. The only hope to make a credible, lasting difference lies in Christ-followers loving Christ and loving others with all their hearts. Let’s be honest, there are too few of us who can say like Paul, “I count everything else as rubbish compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ.”
2. REMEMBER THE SOURCE OF YOUR HOPE: To mimic an old political phrase. It’s not the economy stupid. Nor is it a candidate, a platform, a Supreme Court nomination, or the balance of power. If our hope is in anything politics can deliver, our hope will crash. Next month we celebrate the birth of a baby born in poverty, who changed the world. Four months later, when Easter rolls around, you will not hear the words, “The government has risen, it is risen indeed.” You will hear the words, “He has risen. He is risen indeed.” Our hope is in the King and his Kingdom. Every kingdom outside of His Kingdom is short-term, temporary and in the process of crashing.
3. YOU ARE AN IMMIGRANT: In other words, your primary citizenship is not here. No one says it more clearly than Paul, “Our citizenship is in heaven.” (Philippians 3:20). In 2 Corinthians 5:20, Paul calls us ambassadors for Christ, which indicates an elsewhere-allegiance. In fact, if we are truly ambassadors, then our kids aren’t even eligible for birthright citizenship. I realize that the U.S. government doesn’t consider heaven a real country, but if you do, vote as an immigrant who is planning on one day going to a better home.
4. IF YOU ARE BLUE OR RED YOU’RE DEAD: Sorry the rhyme popped into my mind and I had to get it out! What I mean is this: I’m starting to wonder if I can be a Republican and still be a Christian. AND before (some of) you smile real big, I’m also starting to wonder if you can be a Democrat and still be a Christian. After the last election, Christians wanted to toss the label evangelical. Why aren’t we tossing our political labels? Even if we don’t register as independents, shouldn’t we—of all people—be voting as independents? Jesus said that his followers would be known, not by the color of their states, but by the love they have for each other. The more passionate I am about a political platform, the more difficult it is to love the each-others who are on the other side.
5. THE CENTER OF CHRIST’S ATTENTION: (See #1) Christ’s great interest in the world today is the church. When Jesus is seen in the opening pages of the biblical finale, he is not seen walking through the halls of the great universities or sitting on the thrones of political power. He is seen walking in the midst of His church. If you want to be where the action is in the days when eternity is on the line, invest in the church. In all our mess and imperfections, because of Christ, the church is still the hope of the world.
6. BE WARY OF OUR BENT TOWARD POWER: Specifically power we can control. When the church gets cozy with the power of government, it rarely goes well for the world. One day Christ will bring His government, until that day He calls us to lead through servanthood. He calls us to live by dying. He calls us to gain by giving. He calls us to love and serve the powerless. He calls us to the cross. I don’t see much cross in either party.
7. CHARACTER MATTERS: And if you think this is a back-handed dig at President Trump, I’ll tell you what kind of character I’m seeking in my leaders. I’m seeking the character that is able to point out the failings of his/her own party rather than point at the failings of the other party. I think James (the brother of Jesus) would call that heavenly wisdom. James 3:13-18 is what I’m seeking and to be honest, it’s in short supply on both sides of the aisle. In the last four elections, I voted Republican twice, Democrat once and Independent once, each time character swung my vote.
8. GIVE THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT TO CHRIST-FOLLOWERS WHO VOTE DIFFERENTLY FROM YOU: We are on the same team, in the same family, and that family is forever. Stop with the all-or-nothing language, the either-you-are-with-me or you-don’t-matter choices. You don’t know enough to judge the person who voted differently from you. You don’t know their heart or their mind. You don’t even fully know if you are right. Rather than labeling, have a conversation. Sometimes it’s better to be reconciled than it is to be right.
9. VOTE FOR LIFE: All Life. From the unborn to the almost dead, from the immigrant to the international student, from caravans to mini-vans, from the illegal to the legal, from students to retirees, every race, every gender, every label, every culture, every country, Jesus loves them all, died for them all, and has a place at his table for them all. I realize our government cannot love them all. But we should not vote without realizing that Jesus loves them all and came to bring them all life.
10. CONSIDER THAT GOD MIGHT CALL YOU TO GET INVOLVED IN POLITICS: Not because politics will save the world, but because we need the salt and light influence of Christ…to save politics. And even if he doesn’t call you to a deeper involvement, he has called you to pray. The Bible doesn’t list “not-voting” as a sin, but it clearly calls us to pray for those in governmental authority over us.
That’s it. That’s enough.