By Pastor Stephen Hess –
As I write this article, election day is less than two weeks away. This year we will have yet another opportunity to vote and choose the next President of the United States. One of the things that sets Christians in modern America apart from Christians in the early church is our ability to vote. Unlike Christians living in the New Testament era who lived under the Roman Empire, we live in a democratic country where we have the privilege of being able to choose our governmental leaders. This brings up an important question: How should Christians vote? Is there a uniquely Christian approach to this civic privilege? Since the governments under which Christians were living in the New Testament were so different than ours, the Bible never speaks directly to this question. However, the Bible does give us some broad principles that are helpful as we enter the voting booth in November. Here are a few to consider:
First, recognize that voting is a privilege. We have the ability to choose our leaders and shape our government, and this is a privilege that many people have not had throughout history. Consequently, we should use this privilege to change our culture for good. God told the exiles who were living in Babylon to “seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile” (Jer. 29:7). As exiles living in a democracy today, we can seek the good of our country by using our vote to shape the government in ways that are beneficial for all our neighbors.
Second, as you vote, resist the temptation to pledge your loyalty to any party or candidate. There is no political party or candidate that will ever truly represent Christ and his Kingdom. The reason for this is simple: All of the politicians and their parties belong to the kingdoms of this world. In contrast, Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). Jesus had an agenda and a mission for his followers that would never fit into the structures of this world. This has a couple of huge implications: First, it means that our primary identity should always be defined in Christ and not in the political tribes of this world. Second, it means that our allegiance belongs only to Christ and not to any worldly politician or party.
Third, remember that voting is not the only way Christians are called to change the world. Sometimes we can fall into the error of thinking the primary way we transform the world around us is through voting. The consequence of this way of thinking is we get far too emotionally involved in politics and devastated when elections don’t go “our way.” But we must remember that Jesus didn’t say, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and vote.” Rather, he said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:18-19). Voting is indeed a privilege, but according to Scripture it isn’t the primary way the church is called to change the world. We are called to change the world through prayer, evangelism, service, and mission. If we aren’t doing these things then we aren’t fulfilling our Christian responsibility, no matter how we might vote.
Fourth, remember that voting is important, but it isn’t ultimate. The choice we make every four years is significant and it does have huge implications for our society. But ultimately our hope is not in who gets elected as President of the United States. Our hope isn’t even in the future of any earthly kingdom. Ultimately our hope is in the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords who will establish the only Kingdom that will last forever (Rev. 19:11-16). If you put your hope in earthly politicians and parties they will always let you down. Our only sure hope is in King Jesus.
As you enter the voting booth this November, don’t forget that there is only one true King of this universe. Voting is an opportunity for us to have a godly influence on our government. But ultimately, our hope is in a different king and a different kingdom. Only he can define our agenda and only he deserves our allegiance.