I have a few political opinions.
But this isn’t the place where I am going to air them.
This is, however, the time and place for Christians to start thinking about what it means to follow Jesus as a voter.
The original writers and readers of the New Testament could not have imagined a world in which everyday people got a say in who their rulers would be!
In their world, rulers came and went and one could only hope they’d be just sometimes…at the very least, that they would not make things worse.
So our system of government, however warped it may be, would have been a shock to them. And for that reason, the Bible doesn’t explicitly tell us how to vote.
Loving your neighbor
But we should vote the way we do everything else…loving God with our whole heart, soul, strength and mind, and loving our neighbors as ourselves. Who is our neighbor? The one we can have mercy on, as Jesus taught us in the parable of the Good Samaritan.
Jesus demonstrated for us how to live in this world, as “citizens of the kingdom of heaven.”
Jesus wasn’t afraid, and he wasn’t defensive. He treated the weakest, the most needy, and those who were objectionable to the religious folks with the same respect he gave everyone.
And he wasn’t at all impressed with power – not the devil’s offer of the “kingdoms of this world,” and not Rome.
Nor was he troubled by Rome and their occupation or even their taxes – looking at the Roman coin with Caesar’s head on it, he said “give Caesar what belongs to him, but give to God what belongs to God.” Caesar’s coin with his image? The king can have it. People made in God’s image? They don’t belong to anyone but their Maker.
When we vote….
When we vote in the USA, we need to vote with our neighbors in mind, and their needs – not just about what is good for us and our families.
When we vote in the USA, we must not just vote for what is good for Christians – Christians are sent into this world that does not know God to show them God’s love. Sticking up for our own interests first is the exactly wrong way to go about it.
When we vote in the USA, we must avoid the temptation to vote with only one issue in mind. Our neighbors (and us, too) need more than one thing from government. Love deals with the real world, and one-issue-voting is a shortcut.
In the USA, the church has benefited from surprising things, like the “separation between church and state” and the First Amendment which not only protects our religious practice and speech, but also has prevented the government from establishing any one state church or religion.
Freed to practice our faith without government entanglements has grown the American church. We must not give that away, even at the “cost” of offering the same freedoms to others. In a free marketplace of ideas, the gospel shines – we don’t have to be afraid.
When we vote in the USA, we are voting for people to take office. Every person is flawed; everyone is a sinner. If we are looking for someone sinless to take office, we will wait a long time!
So, in my opinion, we need to look for someone who is responsible and who is interested in looking out for all Americans as government does its work. Anyone who writes off part of our population is, in my opinion, not a safe person as president. Anyone who “will say anything to get elected” might say anything to get whatever they want…or their friends want. If that kind of practice can be proven, it’s a big problem. Anyone who appears not to believe in both justice and mercy is probably not going to do us good.
Love one another as Jesus loved us
Sincere Christians sincerely differ about political parties and candidates. We are commanded to love one another as Christ loved us, so those things cannot be allowed to break fellowship among us.
However, sincere Christians who want to love their neighbors need to be willing to listen and learn, and like any good candidate, not write off swaths of their neighbors or enjoy cruelty to anyone.
In my opinion, certain kinds of political speech found on Cable TV and radio stations wears down the soul and teaches us hatred of our neighbors, and ought to be avoided.
In the Spirit, let us not be afraid and do for others what we would want for ourselves. Vote like that.
Next time, why it’s not enough to say, “Jesus is King”