Bringing Jesus to the Ballot

If you don’t already know, election day is on November 3rd. Already, I have seen dozens of reminders to go vote on people’s Instagram stories, but honestly, the more I follow politics in an attempt to make an informed choice, the more I find myself wanting to withdraw from the discussions entirely as I see constant accusations, corruption, and inadequacies from both parties.

The flaws of our country and potential leaders highlight the brokenness in this world and our need for a savior. Luckily, we have God to turn to, and as reborn Christians, heaven is our home. However, as current inhabitants of Earth, our dual citizenship means we should strive to be salt and light to those around us. Just as salt enhances the flavor of foods, we should make the world a more enjoyable place by enhancing the lives of others and sharing God’s goodness. This may very well mean participating in the election whether that means choosing one of the two leading choices, writing in a candidate, or actively making a decision not to vote.

In the Bible, it says we should submit to the governing authorities that are put into power by God (Romans 13:1–7), and when there are unjust laws that go against God’s law, that we should “obey God rather than men” (Acts 4:19). Unfortunately, beyond that, Christians do not have a clear step-by-step course of action on how to participate in a democracy like the United States. Before I submit my own ballot tomorrow, I have spent some time dwelling on questions that no news report or debate can answer:

How should my identity as a Christian inform my vote? And how can I honor God during this election?

To figure this out, we must turn to God in prayer and seek guidance from studying His word. This article that I am writing is not meant to argue for a certain party, but to take a step back and reflect on Christ in the midst of everything going on in the world. Though the church and state may be separate, as Christians, we are called to do everything for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). There are times where we will undoubtedly fall short, but thankfully there is grace. Nevertheless, the way we live our lives should ultimately stem from God’s Word. I urge any of you who are still in the process of making a decision to make a choice that is supplemented by prayer and your biblical convictions.

Take Jesus’ lessons to the ballot

Spend more time diving into God’s Word rather than fixating on news headlines and your frustrations. Surrender your choices to Him. After all, we are not who we are because we are “Trump supporters” or “Team Biden.” We are first and foremost, Children of God. Our identity lies in our trust in Jesus and obedience in following His example.

Rather than focusing on a few hot issues, it is important to look at the totality of the words and actions when evaluating a candidate. Do they reflect something Jesus would do? Will their reactions bring God glory?

Be intentional with your thoughts, avoid false teachings, lies, hate, and fear-driven voting. Study up on the issues and policies, but cast your anxieties onto God. Be reassured that He will work through whoever ends up in the office.

Abide in love as there is more than one way to vote

No Republican or Democratic candidate is going to fully embody the values of Christian principles. I have heard pastors shout support for Trump’s policies and other church leaders preaching for Biden’s character, but in reality, because of the complexity of the different successes and failures of each party, there is no one Christian way to vote. Political disagreements within the church body should be discussed with love, patience, self-control, and humility. However, oftentimes the opposite happens when Christians debate on policy issues. I have heard countless variations of the following:

“No one who is a real Christian would vote for Biden!”

“You can’t be a real lover of God if you support Trump!”

Slanderous blanket statements that challenge the authenticity of one’s devoutness put us into situations where we stop productively engaging with one another. Instead, we follow the example of the world by shouting over one another, not listening, harboring bitterness, and treating fellow believers as enemies instead of family. We need to remember the truth that God is above this election, and that the grace of Jesus is extended to everyone, regardless of whether or not their beliefs fall closer to the left or right. Though it is biblical to speak truth to one another, we need to resist the devil’s attempt to use us to create more division. After all, we are called to abide in love above all else (1 Corinthians 13). All good and true things are not pleasing in God’s eyes if love is not present (1 Corinthians 13:1–3).

“ Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth…” (1 Corinthians 13:4–7).

Have your thoughts and conduct reflected this kind of godly love? Instead of getting mad and being quick to judge another person’s character, we need to visibly demonstrate love within the church and to nonbelievers because we want to live in a way that makes God’s love known (John 13:35). This can be especially challenging because we are human, but our hope in Christ and the fact that God loved us first should propel us to be quick to love one another and slow to anger.

Freedom in Christ: Are you abusing it or using it for His glory?

Voting is an enormous privilege, not to be taken lightly. However, the world’s emphasis on its importance can become dangerous when we begin to see voting as a binding choice that we have to make for change to come. When we cling to this fear, we truly lose sight of what it means to witness God’s supremacy over everything. Just as you have the privilege and freedom to vote, you have the freedom to choose not to vote at all. John Piper once said that “As citizens of heaven, we are not bound in every situation to participate in the processes of human government” (Piper, “Christian, You Are Free Not to Vote”).

His contention is not saying that Christians are supposed to abstain from voting, but that we should reevaluate our intention and heart posture as we approach our right to vote: Are we voting because we believe that it is ultimately our own will that will change how our country looks, or are we voting out of a desire to uphold the Lord’s name?

Jesus has won the ultimate victory, and Christians have unique freedom in being God’s children. But this freedom does not mean living frivolously in a self-indulgent manner, as Christ constantly preached a message that we are to care for others. The Bible tells us to “Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor” (1 Peter 2:16–17).

To not vote because you simply don’t want to get involved in the messiness of this world is a selfish act of ignorance to those who fought for their right to vote.

To not vote because you don’t care about how people may be affected neglects our calling to love others as ourselves.

Rejecting politics by focusing solely on our heavenly citizenship twists Scripture in a way that allows those who don’t want to get involved in this broken world to selfishly stay in a comfortable Christian bubble. But this is the opposite of what God wants. To only do what we want without regard for others is an abuse of the freedom that Jesus died to give. To make choices that only favor Christians and elevates Christians is not the message of humility that Jesus taught us. The apostle Paul advised fellow believers to not make choices out of selfish gain, but to rather do things with a heart posture that seeks to serve others and bring the lost to God.

“… Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God — even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved” (1 Corinthians 10:31–34).

In regards to this election, participating can be a way to bring glory to God, as the outcome can affect change that helps the people in this country. The right to vote should be greatly valued and appreciated, and if you choose to not vote, I hope it is out of an informed position of thoughtful prayer and acknowledgment of the sacrifices that made this privilege possible.

At the same time, abstention is not necessarily the wrong choice as long as we pray over our decision to abstain and are convicted by the Lord that this decision is the one which will bring Him the greatest glory. Whatever your choice may ultimately be, instead of advancing your personal agenda, seek to promote God’s agenda. Your decision to vote or not vote must be made through our call to live like Jesus. Whatever believers decide to do with their vote must be done in thoughtful consideration of their faith in God and how God calls Christians to a life of service. Some more questions to ask yourself as you vote: Are you voting out of fear or freedom? Is God calling you to abstain? Are you using your freedom in a way that will hurt or help bring witness to those who are unsaved?

Where are we putting our hope?

Brothers and sisters, put your hope in God above all else.

1. No matter who is president, Jesus is ruler over all. “All things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (1 Colossians 1:16–17).

2. Though we will never fully understand the way He works, we can trust that God is sovereign because “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). More than earthly blessings, the ultimate good that God has planned is to bring us to greater closeness and contentment in Him.

3. Honoring God with your vote means trusting Him with the results.

Let us not put too much weight on our choices or on our leaders to bring the world out of darkness. We know that no human is capable of perfect leadership or change. However, God hears our prayers and we can have confidence that whatever box we check, or if we choose to leave things blank out of our God-given convictions, there is only obedience ahead of those who are seeking His guidance.

“And though the Lord gives you The bread of adversity and the water of affliction, Yet your teachers will not be moved into a corner anymore, But your eyes shall see your teachers. Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ Whenever you turn to the right hand Or whenever you turn to the left.” (Isaiah 30:20–21)

Even if we make the wrong choice, there is nothing we can do that has the power to change God’s sovereign plan. Ultimately, to honor God with your vote means that you trust Him with the results.

Beyond Voting

You may have come here to figure out how to live out your convictions during the election season, but remember that regardless of these few weeks, we have 365 days a year to live as ambassadors of Christ. Remember that after you leave the voting booth, or put the envelope in the mailbox, you are not called for radical support of a party, but radical support for Christ for your whole life. Before and after casting your ballot, we must continue to pray for our leaders, pray for the country, grow in our walk with God, and live a life worthy of Christ’s calling. This world is only our temporary residence, and it is not the perfect heaven that we call our home. God uses Jeremiah to instruct us to live among nonbelievers, to “seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile” (Jeremiah 29:7). Though we may feel unqualified, or apathetic at times, we can pray for strength and joyfully fulfill the things God calls us to do. Because He has shown us what is right and wrong, let us pray to be convicted in living out our faith so that we may “act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God” (Micah 6:8).

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