This has been an incredibly difficult election season. In fact, recent polls indicate that 82 percent of Americans are disgusted with it.
Sometimes as Christians, we wonder how we can make a difference in a time like this. How do we respond to the vitriol and rhetoric with clear thinking and Christ-like decisions?
1. Remember Your Dual Citizenship
Our first loyalty is not to America but to our King. Patriotic as we may be, we have an eternal homeland:
For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.—Philippians 3:20–21
This is good news for the Christian because it gives us a clear perspective to see the issues through a biblical framework and eternal vantage point.
As a pastor, I’m always aware that there are people in every church in different phases of their spiritual journey. Some are skilled Bible teachers while others are just beginning to learn where the books of the Bible are. Younger Christians have often not yet learned to apply biblical principles to matters of everyday (or every four years) life. Thinking through issues that have been labeled as “political” with scriptural truth in mind can be new to them. Christians shouldn’t be contentious with one another over these issues. We should stand and declare biblical truth but allow for growth in grace.
2. Support Biblical Preaching and Soulwinning
I like the quote by John Adams, second President of the United States: “It is the duty of the clergy to accommodate their discourses to the times, to preach against such sins as are most prevalent, and recommend such virtues as are most wanted.”
The Bible tells us that “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34).
Our nation needs preachers who will boldly preach Bible truths that are under attack, even as it is becoming less popular to do so.
Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.—2 Timothy 4:2
The hope for our communities, indeed for our nation as a whole, lies in the power of the gospel. This is why it is vital that Christians continue to share the gospel with boldness and compassion.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth…—Romans 1:16
3. Serve and Stand in Your Community
You have an opportunity one day every two or four years to make a difference through your vote. But you have an opportunity every single day of every year to serve those around you.
Is your testimony to your family, neighbors, and coworkers one that shows both truth and grace? Would they find it hard to believe that you have a dual citizenship? Or do you love and serve them even as you witness and stand for truth?
Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.—1 Peter 2:11–12
As Americans, we have a privilege not enjoyed by first-century Christians or, for that matter, Christians in many other parts of the world—the opportunity to vote.
In many ways we’ve struggled with this election as there are not necessarily candidates on every slot of the ballot we are eager to support. Sometimes we need to look past the individual candidates and look to their party platform to see what direction they would lead us.
I believe that religious liberty is one of the most vital issues in this election, simply because our nation has come to a crossroads in it. In recent years, there have been many cases of excessive fines and government-sponsored oppression toward those who believe the Bible and desire to practice their faith in all areas of life. Ultimately, we say with Peter, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29), but ideally, we’d like to see men elected who will uphold our right to obey God.
We should at least elect someone who will not be against us—a leader who, in the words of 2 Timothy 2:2, would allow us to lead a “quiet and peaceable life in all godliness.”
And because much of the recent threats to Christian liberty have been in the hands of the Supreme Court, we are wise to take into consideration that whoever we elect as president will be appointing Supreme Court justices who will serve far longer than this election and will shape the future of Christian liberty as we know it today.
For all of my ministry, I’ve encouraged our church family to vote through a grid of three biblical issues—life, the family, and support of Israel:
- Life—“Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5).
- Biblical Family—“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Genesis 1:27, 2:24, see also Ephesians 5:22–25).
- Israel—“And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 12:3). I appreciate those candidates who are willing to stand with Israel, including establishing the capital in the city of Jerusalem.
We think primarily of the presidential election, but there are other matters on the ballot as well. For instance, Californians will be voting on legalizing marijuana and shorter jail terms. These are issues where we must learn to think biblically—as American citizens with dual citizenship.
Take marijuana, for instance. Revelation 9:21 speaks of people involved in “sorceries,” and the Greek word used there is pharmakeia, which is where we get the English word pharmacy, “the use or administering of drugs.” Obviously, in this case, it’s not referring to a medical drug, but the opening of the mind to witchcraft through a drug substance. The use of drugs is essentially the opening of the mind to demonic influence. Recent studies have revealed that households in America who make less than $20,000 per year account for 29 percent of all marijuana use.
When it comes to shorter jail terms, we have to remember that God has given the government the responsibility to deter evil by punishing it. Romans 13:4 says, “…he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.” The government must not abandon this role for sake of budget cuts.
I can’t help but think of the funeral I recently conducted for LASD Sergeant Steve Owen who was shot by a man let out of jail multiple times and considered an “intermediate risk.” Unbelievably, our governor and state leaders are still pushing through an agenda to legalize marijuana and reduce jail sentences. Thus, Christians must remain involved in voting to make our voice against drugs and for justice heard.
Although in many respects we have more freedom than the Christians to whom the New Testament was first addressed did, sometimes we are most negligent in the area they were most fervent—prayer.
I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.—1 Timothy 2:1–2
We should pray for our leaders and for policies that protect our freedom and allow us to continue to share the gospel.
Fatalistic or Futuristic?
In the old city of London, there is a place known as Bunhill Fields; it is the burial ground of non-conformists. Many Anabaptists, Baptists, and Protestants are buried there who would not conform with unbiblical mandates by the government or the state church and for that gave their lives.
Not far away is Smithfield, where John Philpot and others paid the ultimate price as they were publically burned alive in the 1500s because of their stand for truth.
But the ashes at Smithfield and the remains at Bunhill Fields represent men and women who are now in Heaven and do not regret for a second their loyalty to their Saviour or the opportunity to stand for Him.
As we look toward this election, we should remember that Christians have always functioned well in times of difficulty. We must be willing to stand as counter-cultural, non-conformist Christians who are bound to Scripture.
We need not be fatalistic, however. Whoever wins whichever offices in this election does not control our destiny. The fact that we are dual citizens reminds us that the future is bright. In the words of missionary Adoniram Judson while facing extreme difficulties, “The prospects are as bright as the promises of God.”
Vote on Tuesday. But do so keeping your eyes on your eternal homeland.