Where faith belongs

A focus on Christ's kingdom looks beyond elections

May 23, 2016 by

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The field of candidates for the U.S. presidency has narrowed to the point where many followers of Jesus despair over the choices.

Every election brings some disappointment, but this year, both of the dominant parties’ likely candidates seem particularly odious to many Christians for a variety of reasons. Some grudgingly say they will vote for the lesser of two evils. Others advocate a third-party candidate. Others talk about writing in a name as a protest statement. Still others may skip voting entirely.

A principled stance to stay far away from politics has never looked better.

Elections are important, but in God’s grand scheme, how much do any of these voting choices matter? Candidates make a lot of promises, but how many become reality? No politician is worthy of the faith the cheering crowds express.

Too much is made of the presidential election. The president leads only the executive branch of government, and each branch checks the power of the others. Yes, the president’s ability to nominate Supreme Court justices adds more gravity to the situation, but the justices sometimes surprise us, too.

When it comes to political engagement, each of us should follow our conscience and encourage others to do the same, while praying for God’s will to be done and recognizing that God is sovereign (Psalm 46:8-10).

Are we not allied with our risen and ascended Lord? We spent Eastertide celebrating Jesus’ triumph over death. We have welcomed the coming of the promised Holy Spirit. In light of this, a focus on politics seems rather less weighty.

This is not to say Christians should ignore politics. Understanding the candidates and the issues is useful in directing our prayers and actions. For those who feel called to vote, participating in the democratic process is a civic duty, an expression of ethics and values. But all Christians, whether apolitical or partisan, should seek the big-picture, long-term view, remembering that Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords.

If we vote, we should guard against fear as a primary motivator in our choices. If we are in Christ, our victory is guaranteed.

The church has already lived through the “worst-case scenario” many times. Where is Rome now? Its ground is littered with tributes to the saints of God. We should make our decisions wisely, but trust in God, who sits enthroned as King forever (Psalm 29:10).

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