The election has officially been over for a month. Whether you are elated, despondent or unsure about what to feel, you may be tempted to disengage from important political issues and let them rest for four years. However, this should not be the response of those who belong to Jesus Christ.
If certain political issues mattered on Nov. 8, then they matter every other day as well. If we hold our leaders accountable for caring for such issues, then we should care for them too. This means that the daily decisions you make to live for Christ are more important than who you vote for.
Living Out our Priorities Every Day
The Bible never explicitly commands us to vote or to vote a particular way. It may imply that we should, but it does not explicitly command us with “Thou shalt vote” and it does not tell us “Thou shalt vote for this person, but never that person.” However, Scripture does command believers to pray, to share the good news of Jesus Christ and to walk in wisdom toward outsiders. Every day, we should emphasize what the Bible emphasizes.
Consider Paul’s final instructions to Christians in the city of Colossae in Colossians 3-4. Chapter 3 challenges believers to “seek the things that are above” by putting to death the characteristics of the old self and replacing them with the godly traits of the new self. Paul concludes in verse 17:
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.
The rest of chapter 3 specifically applies this teaching to the everyday household lives of the Colossian believers. Then, in 4:2-6, Paul commands the Colossian Christians to
Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison—that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak. Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
In this passage, Paul instructs the Colossians to devote themselves to praying for opportunities to share the gospel and to “walk in wisdom” by daily living for the Lord before unbelievers.
What does this mean for believers today? Paul’s words are a call to move our primary focus from what is happening on the national or international stage to the individual friends, neighbors, coworkers, classmates and acquaintances that we interact with every day. We are responsible to share God’s love with them and tell them the good news of Jesus Christ.
For this reason it is essential that we not withdraw from political issues after an election. Living for the Lord is an utterly political message that “Jesus is Lord and no others.” “Jesus is Lord” is not something we say once; it is a call that must be lived out each and every day. A vote for President happens every four years; living for Lord happens every day.
So let us think through a couple issues, focusing on how we can live for the Lord in them every day:
If your pro-life conviction only leads you to vote for pro-life candidates — and nothing more — then you do not fully understand what it means to be pro-life. A God-honoring pro-life position means supporting God’s gift of life at every stage in every way possible.
Ask yourself: Do you regularly spend time in prayer about this issue, begging God to change hearts and minds and save lives? But more than that, are you willing to make sacrifices to defend and encourage life? Think about it this way: if abortion ended in our country tomorrow, at least 1.05 million new babies every year would need care, support and love. Are we as the church prepared to do our part even if that day never comes?
For that reason, we should applaud those Christians who are a part of ministries that care for single mothers and children. Also, the church should commend those who not only talk about caring for the least of these, but have adopted children into their families. Those who are a part of those ministries and who adopt children do more for the pro-life cause than most politicians ever will. These people are making an active difference in the lives of individual mothers and children. Their impact has the potential to last forever, because it can lead others to a relationship with Jesus Christ.
If you hold to biblical view of marriage between one man and one woman, do you take the time to build up, encourage and pray for husbands and wives in your church? How do you treat those who hold to a different view of marriage? Do you seek to bully them into submission or ignore them completely? Or do you strive to paint a compelling picture of what God intends for marriage to look like? If a couple not married biblically came into your church, would you treat them with the same love, care and concern you show to a couple struggling with infidelity or someone dealing with anger or pride? Do you bear other’s burdens or do you belittle their struggles?
Married believers should pray for and intentionally invest in their marriages. Single believers should honor (but not idolize) marriage and strive for sexual purity that testifies to the reality that earthly marriage is only a picture of the future union between Christ and His church.
A vote for President happens every four years; living for Lord happens every day.
Over the past year, Americans have engaged in a heated debate about our policies for dealing with refugees from the Middle East. Let us put the policy debates aside, for at least a moment, and focus on what each of us should do as individuals. If a Muslim family from Syria moves next door, how would you respond? Your answer should involve befriending them, intentionally getting to know them, loving them and sharing about God with them. Any other answer is wrong. Period.
Do you treat every neighbor (regardless of their race, religion or background) with the same gospel-focused love?
There is also a lot of talk about freedom of religion, but do you actually exercise your freedom by intentionally talking to and sharing the gospel with people of other faiths? Do you defend the right of every faith to practice their beliefs? Do you take advantage of our nation’s freedom of religion to boldly live for your Lord and share your faith?
Perhaps you have a strong position about the government’s role in education. That’s fine, but are you modeling biblical discipleship and teaching in your own life? Are you instructing others with the knowledge and experience God has given you? If not, you might want to reexamine your priorities.
You might be concerned about foreign policy. Christians, though, should focus on being peacemakers in our own homes and in our own communities, passionate about restoring broken relationships.
You probably will not be asked to resolve a diplomatic crisis in the Middle East, but you might see an opportunity where you can help restore the fractured relationship between two believers. Perhaps you will be able to extend grace and mercy to an unbeliever that leads him or her to learn about the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ.
Never reduce people to a less-than-human category.
Conclusion: Focus on Individuals
There are more issues we could talk about, but if we were all faithful to the Lord in these daily, little areas, we might be surprised about the impact it can make on our community, and then perhaps our country and our world. Our view of politics must go beyond elections to our everyday lives.
All these issues mentioned above can be boiled down to how we treat individuals. We must reject the inflammatory language of some of our politicians. We as believers must be clear: People are not “deplorables,” nor are they “Skittles.” People are people, created in the image of God and loved by their Creator. Never reduce people to a less-than-human category. Every human being has intrinsic worth and value because every person reflects the image of God. As we treat individuals with love and respect and share God’s love with them, change happens and God is glorified.
Paul understood this. He was not concerned about changing the course of the Roman Empire. He was compelled to share with the individual members of the imperial guard who watched over him. The decisions you make every day to walk in wisdom, model Christ-like behavior, extend his love to others, and share the good news with those who do not know the Lord will echo throughout eternity. Your Christlike example and words bring God glory and could be used by the Lord to lead someone to turn from sin and embrace Jesus. Then you will have made an eternal difference.
Neither Paul nor the other apostles ever ran for political office, yet they changed the world because they realized that they had a greater treasure and a greater power than any emperor or president could ever hope to have. If you truly know God, you will not want to waste your life with the things of this world. You will be captivated by eternity and by the joy of knowing the one true God, Lord and Savior. And you will live for and speak of that relationship every day.