My first real sense of politics and presidential elections was when I started high school. John F. Kennedy was running against Richard Nixon. The big issue then was Kennedy’s Roman Catholic faith. I kept hearing people say, “We don’t want the Pope running this country.” Kennedy reassured everyone that his faith would not impact his leadership as president and he won.
So here we are 56 years later in a presidential election that has caused me and many others to struggle like we have never struggled. Just today, I read three different blogs. Each defending one of the top two candidates, and the third arguing for not voting for either of them. Perhaps you are stressed as I am over this election.
I want to offer some suggestions to help ease the stress of this election cycle.
God instituted government to function for the good of society. God ordained government to restrain and punish evil and keep the peace (Romans 13). We can complain about bad government, but all governments have great weaknesses, because leaders are flawed human beings. Remember, whoever the new president is, that person will never accomplish all promised, and they will make many mistakes.
Get out and vote! As a citizen of a democratic republic, you have been given the great privilege of deciding who will represent us. Yes! I know the political movers and shakers, the wealthy and the well-positioned, often shape attitudes and feed us information that is highly biased, but still, elections are decided by voters. Make your vote count!
Practice your citizenship. As Christians, we live in two kingdoms. Jesus said to render to God what is God’s and to Caesar what is Caesar’s. Jesus wants us to impact both kingdoms. Many recent elections have been decided by just a few votes, while many concerned Christians stayed home. You and I have a spiritual responsibility to shape politics, economics, morality, and social/justice issues around biblical values. Too many Christians never vote, saying they don’t care about the outcome. We should!
Measure all political party platforms against biblical values. It bugs me that Bible believing Christians swallow hook, line, and sinker a particular party just because mom and dad voted that way. Think through the issues as a Christian. Take time to personally decide which candidate and party most nearly represents the Kingdom of God.
Respect and value people who are political polar opposites. Don’t write off a person because of their political affiliation. I have heard too many vicious attacks by Christians toward those who differ. We can get so fired up politically that we devalue people who differ from us. This is unchristian. As image bearers of God, the moment we devalue another person, we have crossed a dangerous spiritual line.
Look for agreement! Believe it or not, heated and polarizing conversations often have points of agreement. In our defensiveness, we throw out vague generalizations without taking a deep breath and finding mutual agreement. Conversations have gotten sloppy causing greater polarization. You probably have more to agree on than you think.
Remember! Political parties defend goals and values they consider important. Whether we agree or disagree, political parties seek to bring a higher good to society. Let there be room for ‘doubt’ that my views may not be the whole story.
Lastly, pray seeking God’s wisdom! We are commanded to pray for our political leaders (1 Tim 2:1-3). Pray for the candidates. Pray for the wellbeing of our nation. And … be an answer to your prayer by voting! Everywhere I read in the Bible, God uses both good and bad political leaders.