“Though every kingdom has fallen, the Church has survived. Even the gates of hell cannot prevail against it”
I have never been a particular fan of the expression, “What Would Jesus Do?” Partly because it doesn’t work in every scenario. How is that question going to prevent you from drowning? Jesus would just walk on water. Also, what about situations Jesus never faced? He was never given a ballot to vote, and yet, He is the one who appoints kings and rulers. Knowing that He appointed Herod, Nero, and Hitler, however, gives us very little reassurance when going to the polls.
As Christians in the United States, we have been given an amazing opportunity to vote for our representatives. While this is a privilege that we shouldn’t take lightly, it is also a challenge to understand all of the ramifications that Christ would consider in choosing a national leader.
DON’T PUT STOCK IN GOVERNMENT
Even though the United States was founded on biblical principles for governance, the first election in the Bible did not bode well for God’s people. When the Israelites came to Samuel and asked for a king, he warned them that doing so would result in grave consequences. It was never God’s desire to have governments stand in His place: taking tithes and conscripting servants (I Samuel 8:10-18). But what is so interesting about the warning of Samuel is how normative these laws seem to us today. Samuel thought that a ten percent tax was a bad idea. Yet even the most conservative politicians today think that the government needs at least four times that amount.
God gave the People of Israel what they wanted. Likewise, God has given the Church in the United States the government of our own design. It was evangelicals who lobbied to pass the sixteenth amendment, the federal income tax, in order to ensure prohibition. Just as the Israelites demanded a king, we too turned to government instead of to God.
All throughout the Bible there isn’t a single empire exempt from corruption and every great kingdom in history has collapsed. While we are called to honor those God has placed over us, we are never told to put our stock in government.
VOTE YOUR CONSCIENCE
When it comes to voting, there are many factors an individual should consider. There certainly isn’t enough room in this article to address them all, so I won’t address any of them specifically. Instead, we will look at the central issue of concern for every Christian. When we vote, we are accountable to all that the Holy Spirit has taught us through God’s Word. The process of our sanctification involves Christ transforming us into His image. So if we are going to ask the question, “Who would Jesus vote for?” we have to consider our conscience.
When I say, “vote your conscience,” I don’t mean what politicians imply when they position themselves as the moral choice. Neither am I expressing what many Evangelical leaders insinuate when they endorse a candidate. Since the Bible hasn’t explicitly laid out how Christians should vote, we are all going to have to work this problem out on our own (Romans 14:5). However, that doesn’t exempt us from informing our conscience. Ignorance is the enemy of truth. We should always understand the consequences of our decisions. Therefore, it is important to examine the various ways that we approach the voting process.
A principled voter chooses the candidate that best represents their personal convictions. This often results in someone becoming a one-issue voter. However, one-issue voting often leads to manipulation where politicians make promises they have no intention of keeping just to secure a group of voters.
Just because a principled person strictly votes their conscience does not mean that those who use a different system are without merit. A pragmatic voter will tend to weigh the consequences of their vote and often settle for the lesser-of-two-evils. However, there is not much hope of building a better tomorrow when a voter is forced to choose between two negatives.
The third system reflects a strategic voter. While many people would say that not voting for their candidate is a vote for their opponent, the reality is that not voting for the lesser-of-two-evils could possibly be the only solution to getting out of a downward spiral.
There are many ways to approach voting. The fact that people will have different systems should not cause division amongst believers. If voting is a matter of conscience, there is going to be a wide diversity of opinions.
SO, WHO WOULD JESUS VOTE FOR?
Jesus has already cast His vote. We will get the leader whom we deserve. However, Jesus has made a long term vote that cannot be deterred by changing political
figures. Jesus’ primary vote is for the Church.
Perhaps the biggest problem with conservative evangelical politics is that we have looked to government when we should be looking to the Body of Christ. This is evidenced in the fact that we are far more likely to advertise who we are voting for than proclaim that we are Christians, we are more impassioned by our political beliefs than the theology of the Bible, and it is easier for us to strike up a conversation with a stranger about politics than it is to share the gospel.
Politics brings out droves of Christians, passionate about changing their nation, and yet, we often neglect the primary means in which God is working in this world. If we are not as committed to our Churches as we are to our political parties then we have failed to understand our calling. It is crucial that we remind ourselves again that what happens each and every Sunday under the ministry of the Word is vastly more influential than what happens in the ballot box.
WHAT DO WE DO NOW?
Whenever I see a Christian bitter over government I am burdened to remind them of the promises of God. God never promised that a world full of sinners would cater to our comfort. On the contrary, He told us that just as they hated Jesus they would also hate us (John 15:18). Yet, in the face of persecution throughout Church history, God’s promises have continued. Though every kingdom has fallen, the Church has survived. Even the gates of hell cannot prevail against it (Matthew 16:18).
Just because we shouldn’t complain about the corruption in our culture doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t bother us. There are a lot of injustices in the world and Christians should be the first to address them. We ought to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8). We cannot simply speak out against injustice, we must do the right thing. We cannot simply preach the gospel, we should demonstrate it through our acts of grace and mercy. We should not only stand up for the widows, orphans, and immigrants (Matthew 25:41-46, James 1:27), but we should lower ourselves to meet their needs even as Christ humbled Himself to save sinners.
Jesus has voted. He has given His life for the Church. Who will you vote for in this coming election?
Rev. Adam Miller is the President and Host of Songtime and can be heard daily on the Songtime Radio Broadcast.
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