Audio Version readby Cheryl for-mature-audiences-only.mp3

I have a few questions for those who profess Jesus Christ to ask themselves before November 3rd.

• How important do you think this election is?

• How will you react if your guy doesn’t win?

• Is it worth alienating friends and family to protect your preference?

• Do you feel justified in attacking those who disagree with you?

• Are you righteous to disassociate with people of the other political persuasion?

• Is your faith tied to a political outcome?

I ask these questions on the heels of a “cultural event” that I recently attended at a Christian church. As we collectively face division, racial tension, covid isolation, political savagery and polarization of ideas the speaker presented a narrative. An expert orator, skilled writer, and entrenched conservative, this man spoke with passion and conviction about the dangers of Marxism, the greatness of our nation, and a rally cry for us to fight back. He did not talk about our Christian testimony though he emphasized our rights. He was unconcerned about the dangers of becoming entangled with the world through spiritually unhealthy reliance on political affiliation. He did not mention using our influence to promote God’s system of justice in our broken culture. At the Q and A he asserted that racism was not a top problem in our country, and said it would be immoral to vote Democrat. Thankfully there was an audible gasp at this last statement. But I am certain that many were driven further into their bubble of unscriptural political refuge, even more unwilling to entertain an alternate perspective. He tied Christianity very tightly to patriotism.

This might sound a bit shocking, and to be fair there was merit in some of his reasoning. Yet for every conservative rabble rouser there is also an engaging liberal activist willing to stir up outrage and action in the name of Jesus. Virtue signaling rants go out to their own bubble, and the echo chamber reinforces their opinions and justifies contempt – but what about Jesus? He is now a pawn in an ideological chess match. His name has been connected with politicians who supposedly “tells it like it is”, which really means being rude and crude. Is this what Christianity should champion? Perhaps the opponent is mildly less grating personality wise, but the alternate party has proven that nothing is sacred in its pursuit of power. Before you get all offended at either of these statements, ask yourself why. What used to be a choice to elect someone who exhibited competence to administrate a large complicated country is now a struggle to the death between competing ideologies. Yes, character is supposed to matter, but very seldom have we had the luxury of having the choice of a truly moral man to represent us as a nation. Perhaps by the time you get to that stage of the game you have had to compromise to win. Now BOTH sides say “I can’t believe you vote that way and call yourself a Christian!”

Which brings us back to the issue at hand. Is politics our salvation? Is it worth trashing our friends, our relatives? Is it worth vexing our souls? Is the United States the kingdom of God? Don’t give me your theological answer. Show me by the way you talk to and about your political allies. Opponents. Would you rally for justice? For a candidate? Are you convinced Jesus would vote pick your side. Would He even vote? Is promoting this nation advancing the kingdom? Are your rights more important than your compassion? Did Jesus fight for His rights? Did He take up the sword? Remember His response when the disciples wanted to call down fire on a town that rejected Him? Is your enemy the darkness of your anger or your political opponent? Have you considered that your political fervor may be a weapon for the dark side?

We are not ignorant of the schemes of the devil. Division, pride, animosity, fear, tribalism – just to name a few – are on display. And tragically this does not exclude our churches. Is it any wonder that fewer young people are subscribing to such a self-centered, rights centered, power focused religion? Guns and Bibles is an accurate portrayal of the message brought by this national speaker/author to our conference. Does that resonate with you? If it does, it’s time for a soul check. He who lives by the sword dies by the sword. Do you want to go out fighting for a temporal country or your “rights” instead of laying down your life for your brother? The fighting we do is with love and compassion, coming alongside a desperately broken and confused culture. Jesus, our example, went about doing good. And He lived in a tyrannical empire. Maybe we should follow His example.

It takes courage and humility to honestly evaluate a challenge to your world view. It takes thoughtfulness, time, prayer, and a willingness to scrutinize group think. Decide if you are more fired up about your country – its goodness or its flaws – than facilitating the kingdom of God on this earth. What about preferring our brothers above ourselves, what about speech seasoned with grace, what about extending grace to those who disagree? What about the log in your own eye? Maybe they have good reasons for their opinions and it’s not just hate! Have you engaged them in a civil conversation about their reasons or do you assume they believe what is rehearsed and reviled on your favorite blog/podcast/news station/social media outlet. Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect by someone who takes the name of Jesus on their lips in praise on Sunday morning. So fall on your knees before the One whose name is being sacrificed on the altar of political expediency and ask Him whose side you really are on. Nothing is worth the risk of shaming Him. And remember, sin is not breaking His rules, it’s breaking His heart.

And sure – go vote! Shalom!