Election day is fast approaching. Part of our expectation as followers of Jesus in the good ole USA is voting. This is so important on many levels. We have the opportunity to elect faithful leaders and enact faithful laws. This is a responsibility many in our country ignore, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is there. For you to ignore the right to vote leaves you zero opportunity to complain about the state of our country (not that I support chronic complainers…), and it leaves you completely out of the loop when it comes to the leaders and laws we support. I wrote this piece today with voters and candidates in mind.
Part of me wants to say that Jesus wouldn’t have anything to do with politics. And while I don’t believe we’d ever find Him on a ballot, I do believe it is possible to follow Jesus and campaign, win and keep a political office. In short, people can love Jesus and be politicians. I have little to no experience in this arena, but I know what the Word has to say. It speaks strongly about our actions toward our “enemies” and those who would speak or act in an ill way toward us. We are to love them.
There are no words minced here. When Jesus chose His disciples, I don’t believe it was a mistake that He chose a terrorist (Simon the Zealot, a man who hated Rome and Jewish Roman sympathizers) and a tax collector (Matthew, a man who made his living sucking up to Rome). In any other circumstances these two men would have killed each other and quickly. But under the authority of Jesus, they not only learned to love each other but they shared tents for at least three years! They became working partners. How does something like this happen? Only when all political parties involved choose to set their deeply held motivations aside and look to Jesus.
Pick any state and you’ll find candidates running in pretty contested races for various offices. I love that we can do this skillfully and freely in America without the use of guns and dictators. There are no KGB enforcers or armored cars rushing through our streets to intimidate voters one way or another. But, at the same time, many of our candidates claim to know Jesus. I know this to be true in Arkansas, at least. This changes the game. Now, we aren’t just motivated by jobs, pay or even public service. Our candidates are motivated by a higher standard: to please Jesus in everything said and done in the process of campaigning.
I know God is working in Arkansas today. I know it! I see evidence of His work all around me every day. I also know our common enemy, the same one who has wreaked havoc in our region for decades, is highly upset about the Kingdom strides we are making. He would love nothing more than to use this election to derail the activity of God and God’s people by taking our eyes off Jesus and fixing our attention on political races. Don’t give him the pleasure of doing this! Is God going to win? You bet! Is it going to happen in our lifetime, in this generation? That depends on how you define His win. It also depends on our faithful or lack-of-faithful responses to His work around us.
A win in the Kingdom book is a servant—a political one in this conversation—who spends his/her days making governing decisions that honor God. They will never seek to put themselves in the limelight, but will always be found lifting others up, encouraging others, loving others for the faithful work they do. They won’t win debates or elections by tearing the opponent down. Their victories will be based solely on their own achievements. The laws they support and the way they are carried out will be Christ-like. You say this isn’t possible. I say it is just as possible to serve Jesus faithfully in the political world as it is in any other arena. You think God is absent there? You think He doesn’t care or see the bloody atrocities that take place in that world daily? You think it doesn’t matter to Him the laws we enact or the methods we use to carry them out when it comes to the people He loves?
Candidates, you didn’t ask for my two cents but I’m going to give them to you anyway. Please don’t spend your days trying to prove how much better you are than your opponent. We really don’t care to hear a comparison from your viewpoint. What we do care to see is what anyone could see that knows you well. How do you treat your family? How do you spend your money? What matters most to you in this world? What ranks higher: party lines or Kingdom lines? When you finish the day are you thinking about all the way you could have made yourself look better or are you thanking God for all the ways He allowed you to give Him glory? Do you love the broken and will you look after the hurting? Does your spouse agree with all the ways you describe yourself publicly? When the term is done, the world will forget about you, but our children and grandchildren will reap the benefits or curses of your actions. Are you willing to let God lead? If so, I’ll vote for you. It matters not to me whether you wear blue or red or purple for that matter! If not, I’d just assume you go back to doing whatever you were doing before you had the bright idea to run for any office you are aspiring to hold.
In the end, God wins. This is the promise all hold onto. In the in-between, He gives us the responsibility and freedom to govern this old, broken world. For my part, I want to lead as I follow Him. What about you?