Don’t you just love fall? I mean, what’s not to love? Think of the crisp mornings, the multicolored foliage, that certain glow in the mid-day sun and those oh-so-charming little yard signs!
It is that magical time of the year when the temperatures fall and the rhetorical heat climbs. For some of us, election season is the mental equivalent of being stuck in traffic. We just want the noise to end. Others find a certain life in the fray and politics is one of the few places left to mix it up and “fight the good fight.”
If you feel trapped in the stop and go of campaign ads, speeches and debates, beware. It’s easy to grow indifferent to the issues and even find a moral “high ground” in purposely ignoring the conversation. Politics, after all, is the place of cheats and liars. Who can you really believe? I remember my grandfather being pretty strident in his assessment of the whole political affair: “Never trust a man in a tie.” But checking out, regardless of the rationale, probably isn’t an expression of faith.
If you love the battle and can’t wait for the next heated conversation, beware. It’s easy to be consumed with anxiety. “What if the vote goes the wrong way? What will happen then?” That’s me. Personally, I’m squarely in the “decided” column. Another debate or op-ed article will not sway my vote. And yet, I study the polls, listen to all the analysis and check RealClearPolitics on the hour, waiting for the outcome and the fate of the nation.
It’s clear we need some Bible here. We need it to rightly understand the issues but, more importantly, to discern and correct our own hearts. I believe the Bible would call us to engage this election cycle with gratitude, a biblical worldview and trust in the one who removes kings and sets up kings (Daniel 2:21).
Vote! With gratitude.
In Romans 13, Paul reveals that authorities have been instituted by God to reward good conduct and punish evil. Governments have always been more than happy to do this. But they have this curiously consistent tendency to assume the authority to define good and evil. It’s your standard “might-makes-right” approach to human existence and that’s bad, especially when the “might” rules over millions. As old as Eden, it is the root of untold suffering.
On November 6, you have the opportunity to do something novel in human history. Your vote will make a statement regarding good and evil. This is novel because, in the lion’s share of history, God’s people have defined good and evil by literally becoming the lion’s share and stirring the conscience of their culture on the back of their suffering (1 Peter 3:14-17). How glad we should be that, for now, we can contribute to the definitions of good and evil with ink instead of blood!
Vote! With a biblical worldview.
We must be careful, though, to “lean not on our own understanding” as we cast our defining votes. To proclaim and uphold God’s definition of good and evil, we must, um, you know, know God’s definition of good and evil. We have a responsibility to think biblically at the polls.
There will be biblical “non-negotiable” issues on your ballot. Some are explicit while others are implied.
God has created human life with the incredibly weighty purpose of bearing His image (Genesis 1:26-27). Someday it will be abundantly clear to everyone that no one has a right to choose to destroy that image. We honor God by honoring his image in human life. Your vote can express that honor.
God is purposeful in His designs. He doesn’t simply operate with what is convenient or expedient. Marriage isn’t merely pragmatic. Marriage speaks (Eph. 5:22-33). God expresses His character and His devotion to His people through the institution of marriage. To change His design is to alter His communication and, without that, we are hopelessly lost.
Beware of the over extension of the “Golden Rule” here. To do to others as we would have them do to us should include stopping self-destructive behavior. We need that. Three seconds at the Drudge Report is all we need to reveal that our natural inclinations aren’t always good. Accepting the actor does not require approval of their every action. This is a sure path to give freedom to that which enslaves.
Vote! With trust.
He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; (Daniel 2:21)
For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. (Romans 13:1)
Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father. (Revelation 1:4–6)
God is not surprised at the outcomes of history and He is not needy (Psalm 115:3). We have a God who is in absolute control. He calls us to fight the good fight of faith not because he needs us in some tenuous battle but because He is conforming us into the likeness of His Son (Romans 8:28-32). How could he call us to not be anxious about tomorrow if that were not so?
If the results are up to me, I shouldn’t sleep. My every action should be focused on victory. Any slip in effort, any conversation that doesn’t produce the right vote could be the decisive one. And the loss would be on my shoulders. Thankfully, that is not so. God has orchestrated the world so that the joyful, grateful obedience is mine and the results are his. Consider Psalm 4:4-8:
Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the LORD. There are many who say, “Who will show us some good? Lift up the light of your face upon us, O LORD!” You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound. In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.
Our duty is to walk into the polls with a good conscience and a sincere faith and to let the results rest with God. Vote like a person whose God is the King of Kings. Vote like a citizen of a new Kingdom. Offer right sacrifices and put your trust in the Lord. Your confident convictions and peaceful trust might just change the world.
Beyond the Voting Booth
Here’s the bonus. There is an opportunity in the midst of this tense political season. Your confident convictions and peaceful trust might just change the world – the world you touch every day.
When the New Testament calls us to stand for convictions, it does so with an appeal to a certain kind and gentle manner (2 Timothy 2:24-25, 1 Peter 3:15), because the manner, not merely the conviction, reveals God. If we have confidence in God’s truth and sovereignty, we can be both steadfast and kind in the midst of the rhetorical bombing raid. This supernatural ability to “Keep Calm and Carry On” confirms God’s presence and reveals His character. Because to win any argument through angry force of will betrays a lack of confidence in God and it misses the opportunity to display God’s grace as well as his truth. And a ticket with Grace and Truth as the candidates can win more than a political office.