It’s that time again when American citizens vote for a president. It goes without saying, however, that this year feels different for a lot of unusual reasons. As one of your pastors, I work hard not to make political statements or take political sides. I believe that one of my main callings is to help spiritually shepherd and disciple the people of God in the way of Jesus, so that you can make your own wise and Spirit-led decisions in your public life, including the way you vote. In that light, here are a few reflections to remember as you pray and consider your responsibility on November 8th.
Reminder #1: Politics is not a Pass for Christian Discipleship.
Brian Roberts notes that political discourse is like the Vegas of Christianity – it’s that place where sin and indiscretion are winked at and excused. Hate speech, vitriolic language, childish names, caricaturing opposing viewpoints— it seems like Christians think politics is a realm where sin can be overlooked. However, if you are a Christian there is no area of your life over which Jesus does not reign and call you to live as his follower, bearing the fruit of his Spirit. This includes how you talk about politics, what you post on Facebook, and what you say to your sympathetic friends in private about what “those people” think and do. “Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love” (Eph. 4:1-2). This command applies to every part of your life.
Reminder #2: The Kingdom of God is not of this world.
Every time an election occurs, some Christians react as if the Kingdom of God has been destroyed or has triumphed depending on who was elected. We must remember, however, that Jesus was very clear that his Kingdom is not of this world. That means no political platform, party or policy can ever be fully aligned with the Kingdom of Jesus. Scripture does not endorse one particular political platform over the other. Political parties will advocate for some biblical values that we can affirm, but no party supports all of them. When a Christian suggests otherwise by being so indefatigably committed to a political platform or party, he or she has embraced loyalty to an earthly agenda over and above the agenda of Jesus Christ, which cannot be contained or owned by any human program. The Kingdom of God brings judgment to every human platform, for the Kingdom of God is not of this world (John 18:36).
What does that mean for our vote? Christians have many different ideas about what that means for this particular election—I have read a lot of them! So ultimately, each person must consider his or her own conscience before God, seek leading from the Holy Spirit, talk with trusted Christian friends, and ultimately cast their vote in a way that most aligns with what they believe to be the way of love. But we do so understanding the ambiguity of what we do, and that ultimately our allegiance lies with Jesus and his Kingdom.
Reminder #3: Jesus’s community transcends earthly divisions.
Election season can really divide people, even fellow Christians. But let me suggest to you that if you feel more solidarity with those who share your politics but not your faith, then you very well may have given your allegiance to the wrong kingdom. Jesus called together through his grace people who would never otherwise have been together. Among his own disciples was Simon the Zealot (radical conservative) and Matthew the tax collector (social liberal), who now were brothers under the same King. In our church we have people with different positions and viewpoints all in the same community. If we are going to “one another” well, our political loyalties must be demoted beneath our primary loyalty to Jesus Christ.
Reminder #4: Jesus is Lord
Thanks be to God—we only have one Messiah and he is not up for re-election! We already have a Lord and King and Sovereign and he can never lose. Our hope for our world is in no man, no ideology, no policy, but in the Lord Jesus Christ, his death and resurrection and his coming again to make all things new. Please believe this. Please live this. Please hold fast to this singular Hope.
1. Q Commons: "Engaging Our Divided Nation" - Live Event
Thursday, October 13, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m., Veritas School
During this special event, Richmond will join with thousands of attendees in hundreds of cities to be equipped on how to engage this unique, American moment. It is a 2-hour live event that will educate Christians on how they can bring hope and leadership to their communities. Nationally broadcast speakers include author and apologist Ravi Zacharias, authors and political commentators Kirsten Powers and Ross Douthat, and Grammy-award winning hip-hop artist Lecrae. Local speakers include Third's own Corey Widmer and Arrabon's David Bailey.
For more info and to register, visit Q Commons-Richmond.
2. The Voting Booth (E-Book)
By Skye Jethani
For generations, Christians have been told to either escape the culture to avoid its ungodliness, or to aggressively engage the culture by seeking power and control over it. But are those a Christian’s only options? The Voting Booth, written by Skye Jethani, writer and former editor of Christianity Today's Leadership Journal, presents a third path for a new generation of Christians seeking to love both God and their neighbor.
To download the free e-book, visit Skye's website.
3. How to Pick a President (E-Book)
Contributors include: Mark Galli, Andy Crouch, Russell Moore, Ed Stetzer, and more.
Many Americans are discouraged, disillusioned, frustrated, and downright confused—not only by the political uproar, but also with the harrowing decision we all face come Election Day. Voters are now wondering: Do I vote along traditional party lines? Do I choose a third-party candidate? Do I simply refuse to cast a ballot? Questions like these aren’t easy to answer. So we’ve gathered articles from some of the most thoughtful Christianity Today writers for this CT book.
To download the free e-book, click here.
4. Faith and Politics: Christian Life Between Two Loyalties - Live Event
Saturday, Oct. 22, 7:00 p.m., St. Matthews Episcopal Church (With Dr. Brad Littlejohn)
"What Does it Mean to be a Christian Citizen?" Christians across America dust themselves off from the collapse of the Religious Right, many are asking what it even means to be a Christian citizen in a post-Christian America. Dr. Littlejohn will seek to address the many questions about this by drawing on the resources of Protestant political theorists like Richard Hooker, and applying them to our 21st-century context.
Sunday Oct. 23, 9:15 a.m., St. Matthews Episcopal Church (With Dr. Brad Littlejohn)
"Beyond 'the Lesser of Two Evils': A Christian Toolkit for Evaluating Candidates" In an election year when, perhaps more than any in recent memory, Christians of all stripes have been torn between "voting for the lesser of two evils" and "voting their conscience," it is necessary to step back and gain some clarity about what these phrases mean. In this session, Dr. Littlejohn will lead a discussion to help participants work through the questions each should be asking as they consider their political alignments in this or any election year.