21 Apr “How Would Jesus Vote?” By Stephen Hutchins (Part 2)
Continued from Part 1….
As Christians, we have a responsibility to be “salt,” “light,” and otherwise be a positive influence on our culture. So isn’t our participation in the political process, at least for us who are citizens of a democratic form of government, an obvious way for us to do this? I suppose. I do doubt however that we’ve had as much “success” for our civic labors as we might like to believe. I think there’s more evidence that our high profile involvement in politics has been a net loss, both for the church and our culture at large.
First of all, not all Christians feel the same way on any particular issue and, even when they do, there are often other issues involved in the calculus that results in believers coming to different conclusions about who to vote for. We never speak with one voice.
Then, there are the many Christians who have chosen and continue to choose to enter the political arena themselves, only to compromise their faith or fall into moral failure—and the exponential exposure of that failure that our media insures.
Christian lobbyists, PACs, church bulletin inserts, the incessant pandering to Christians by candidates across the political spectrum (with the obligatory Bible quotation, “God bless,” worship service visits, etc.), and the rest all seem to just add a Christian veneer to the more worldly methods we’re prone to decry.
In recent years, social media platforms have provided other opportunities for believers to define themselves as Christians and “share” articles espousing their point of view and debate candidates and policies all over the internet. It often isn’t pretty and it’s all done before a watching world.
Wouldn’t our energies, time, and resources be better directed toward the spiritually sick and dying?
Whatever your particular political convictions and the ways they interact with your faith and understanding of God’s Word, isn’t one thing certain? Won’t partisans of all political stripes and issues be represented in the “lake of fire?” So why is it so important to us (so it seems) that others think and vote like we do?
Their political tastes really aren’t the issue and we shouldn’t make it seem so. Think about the benefits of being able to talk to your friends about politics, while being able to plausibly segue into a discussion on spiritual things because they’ve come to know that you’re no longer emotionally invested in political outcomes. We bring enough baggage into our relationships. Do we really need this one?
Many of you may have another perspective about this. That’s okay. I once did and there are compelling reasons to stay engaged politically in our culture. Who knows; perhaps one of you will be instrumental in drawing me back into the fold.
But I’m reminded of the man who responded to Jesus’ call to “Follow Me.” Luke tells us that the man asked Jesus’ permission to first go bury his father. Sounds like a legitimate request to me. Jesus’ response, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.”, was stark and clarifying. In the Jewish culture, caring for the deceased body of a parent was a high moral obligation. It certainly would rank much higher correspondingly to our own perceived obligation to vote, yet Jesus’ call on his life and ours was a radical one. Jesus’ alternative instruction to him was to “…go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.”
We own that same mission. And we can obey it best, even in the political arena (note Jesus’ “proclaim everywhere”), if we’re not “players” (i.e. party members, voters, endorsers, etc.). Let’s reclaim our identity. “…And the world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God abides forever.” – 1 John 2:17
My thinking on this is still fluid and I won’t begrudge your continued participation in the political process our nation affords. Even if you’re convinced that God can use you as a candidate, that’s between you and Him if He truly is so leading you. But I wouldn’t be surprised if I’ve already voted in my last election.
One thing I do know is that I’ll continue to pray for “…all those in authority…” (1 Timothy 2:1-2) knowing that it is God who “…sets up kings and deposes them…” (Daniel 2:21) and that all “…authorities that exist have been established by God….” (Romans 13:1) It’s interesting to me that the Holy Spirit spoke those words through two servants (Daniel and Paul respectively) who lived under much more oppressive governments than we do.
If we’re all still here in four years, my sister may be surprised at my advice next time around: “Maybe you should follow Jesus’ example, shun politics, and entrust our nation’s future to ‘…Him who judges justly.’” (1 Peter 2:23)
I’ll be interested in her response, especially if it leads to enriching dialogue. I hope the same for you and thus, welcome your comments.