I have been asked several times over the last couple of weeks about the upcoming Presidential election. Specifically, I have been asked about what Christians should do in this election. Should they vote for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump? Should they vote for a third party candidate such as Gary Johnson or perhaps even abstain from voting altogether? So after much prayer and consideration, I have decided to put down a few thoughts about how I think Christians should handle this year’s election.
- Vote your conscience
It is not my place to tell you which candidate you should vote for, nor do I think that either of the candidate represents a clear-cut Christian choice. Like many believers, I have serious reservations about all of the candidates who are running this year. Therefore, every believer should carefully examine their conscience to decide which candidate they will vote for or whether they choose to abstain. I’m certain that I will get a lot of grief for this statement, but I think it is a valid option not to vote for anyone if doing so would violate your conscience. As Luther said, “…to act against our conscience is neither safe for us, nor open to us.”
- Don’t let your political preference steal your testimony
This election season has been one of the most negative that most of us can remember. But in addition to heated rhetoric, this election has also exposed deep divisions within our nation. One of my greatest concerns as a Pastor is that evangelical Christianity has become so identified with certain political ideologies and parties that they endanger our witness. We must keep in mind that Presidents and congressman have very limited influence. They can affect the here and now. Some of their policies can influence the direction of the next few decades. But our testimony as believers can influence eternity. Our focus is not on the next four or eight years but on the next million. The poorest, most beleaguered and forgotten believer in the world can have infinitely more influence on eternity than the greatest President or Congressman who has ever lived. If we give away our Christian testimony through political axe-grinding, ill-tempered tantrums and the countless other temptations offered by politics, we risk giving up our greatest means of influence. It would be a million times better to lose an election and maintain our testimony than vice versa.
- Remember that God is Sovereign
Romans 13:1 says, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” One sure fire way to know the will of God in this election is to wait until the day its over and see which candidate wins. Many who read that statement are going to hate it, but the Bible is clear – God establishes the ruling authorities over us. Both good or bad, but they are all ordained by God. In the Old Testament, God raised up and used Nebuchadnezzar just as surely as He raised up and used David. But even more important, is for believers to recognize that God is still in control.
On the day after the election, God will still be on His throne. He will still be sovereign over the entire universe. He will still be carrying out His plan of redemption. His Kingdom will not have been changed in the least. As believers we need to be far more captivated by the one who sits on the throne of the universe than whoever sits behind the desk in the oval office. No matter who wins on election day, God will still be in control!
- Pray for our elected leaders
The Bible does not call for us to be political activists. The Apostle Paul lived under the dominion of one of the most ruthless tyrants the world has ever known— Nero. Yet, we never see Paul calling for his followers to rise up and form a political action committee. He doesn’t urge the people in the churches he planted to write letters to their senators opposing legislation. Instead, Paul simply calls for them to lead peaceful and quiet lives, submitting to the authorities whenever possible and most of all to pray for them. In 1 Timothy 2:2 he writes, …”I urge that supplications, prayers and intercessions, and thanksgiving be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” The truth is that if Christians would spend as much time praying for our leaders as we do criticizing them we might see some major changes happen in our nation.
For the sake of clarity, let me say that political action is not forbidden by the Bible. We can and should take moral stands. We also should stand up for the oppressed in our society and pursue social justice. But these are not our primary ways of influencing the culture. Our greatest means of affecting change is through the message of the gospel, which brings me to the most important point.
- Stay focused on the mission
Our job as believers is not to win elections but to win souls! Our job is to spread the gospel around the world — not the gospel of Americanism but the gospel of Jesus Christ. The church likes to place the blame for the moral decay of our nation on the backs of politicians, but the Bible says that we are “the salt and the light.” (Matthew 5:13-14) Regardless of who wins the election, let’s commit as the people of God to keep our focus on the task to which we have been called. Let’s focus on making sure that every man, woman and child in this nation hears the good news of Jesus Christ. But even beyond that, let’s make sure that we take the gospel to the furthest reaches of the globe to ensure that representatives from every tribe, nation and tongue call upon Jesus for salvation.