Today is November 2, 2020 – the day before our nation’s general election. Like me, you’re probably tired of receiving unwelcome text messages, throwing away flyers, and watching low-quality TV ads. Take heart! The end is nigh (I promise I mean that in the BEST way possible).
Admittedly, this devotion may be a bit late (after all, MILLIONS of people have voted much earlier than they normally would, including some within our church). That being said, with the “official” Election Day bearing down on us, I thought it would be appropriate to write a few words. I have no intention of telling you who to vote for; our church is not in the business of formally endorsing specific political parties or candidates. I also speak with some trepidation, recognizing that I speak not JUST as a private citizen; I speak as a representative of Prairie View Christian Church.
The goal of this post is to simply give some sort of (I hope) Biblical and pastoral wisdom as we head to the polls tomorrow, come to terms with the results tomorrow night (maybe?), and seek to live as Christians in the days ahead.
First: I’d encourage you to take seriously the privilege and responsibility of voting. While our unique system of government may not appear in the pages of Scripture, the Bible does charge believers to be good citizens (Romans 13:1-7, 1 Peter 2:13-17). One of the ways we can be good citizens in our current context is by taking our civic duty to vote seriously. Educate yourself on the issues, candidates, and parties (not just in the big, attention-grabbing national races, but also in local and state races). Know where your polling location is. Wait in line if you have to! Vote.
Second: Be realistic about what you’re doing. Recently I’ve heard many argue, “You’re not voting for the person, you’re voting for the party.” (or vice-versa). Let’s be honest; we often utter those phrases in an attempt to paper over real issues with the candidate or the party we’re thinking of endorsing. We like to tell ourselves that we’re not REALLY voting for an objectively rude, arrogant, and obnoxious person (even though their name is clearly printed on the ballot); we’re just voting for the party they represent. We like to tell ourselves that we’re not REALLY voting for a party whose published platform flies in the face of some our most basic Christian convictions (even though a large “R” or “D” will appear next to the victor’s name); we’re just voting for the more decent person. But – whether we like it or not – we’re voting for both. I don’t say that to discourage you; I say that to encourage you to be realistic. Neither major presidential candidate, or the party they represent, has the market cornered on Biblical ethics. Notwithstanding those who choose to vote for a third-party candidate, leave a line blank, or write in a name, we’re choosing between two imperfect options. So use your discernment, and vote for the option which you feel will BEST line up with God’s revealed design and vision for human flourishing – knowing all the while that your option will inevitably fall short of perfection. Be realistic enough to acknowledge the imperfections of WHOEVER you support. They could be a good partner – one of many useful tools to help make our society a bit more just, prosperous, and dignity-affirming – but they’re not the Messiah.
Third: Relax. We keep hearing that this “could be the most consequential election of our lives”. That may be true; but I’d also remind you that the fate of the country does not lie in your hands. The way you pull the lever tomorrow (or did two weeks ago) is not the one thing holding our nation back from utopia or doom. Take your responsibility seriously. Seek wisdom. Pray! But once your vote is cast, don’t lose sleep over it. Don’t be racked with guilt, regret, or uncertainty. No matter what happens, our God is sovereign. As Daniel 2:21 reminds us, “(God) changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings…”. Do our actions matter? Absolutely! But the course of history isn’t up to you. It’s not your job as a voter (or the elected government’s job) to bring the Kingdom of God to bear on earth, or hold back Satan and his demons. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself. Relax.
Fourth: Strive to live faithfully to Christ regardless of the result. No matter who occupies the White House, the governor’s mansion, or the spot on the school board – no matter how different our political landscape could be a week from now – our Christian identity and mission will be the same. We will still pray to the Father. We will still be justified by faith in the Son. We will still be indwelt by the Holy Spirit. We will still worship every Sunday. We will still be called to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19a). We will still be “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for (God’s) own possession” (1 Peter 2:9a). The tomb will still be empty. We will still be confident that not even the gates of Hell will prevail against Christ’s Church. No matter what happens on November 2, 2020, or January 20, 2021 – whether those in charge desire Christians’ favor, or plan to knock Christians down a notch – our life’s purpose remains the same: faithfulness to Jesus, come what may.
Fifth: Stick together as brothers and sisters in Christ, no matter what happens. We keep hearing rumblings of political unrest in the days and weeks to come; that’s scary to think about. However, bitterness, anger, and grudges within the Body of Christ can also cause devastation. If your candidate won, you’re allowed to be happy; but don’t alienate your fellow believers who disagreed with you. If your candidate lost, you’re allowed to be disappointed; but don’t start grinding an axe against your fellow believers who voted in a different way. Our unity in Christ goes FAR deeper than our diversity of political leanings. So don’t fall into the trap of division (Satan would like nothing more). Stick together.
I’m no political mastermind, policy wonk, or expert talking head; I’m a pastor. And as I look at the landscape of our nation on Election Eve, these are the things I’d encourage my congregation to keep in mind. You may not agree on every point, and I’m sure I have my own blind spots. Who knows; this post may have caused you even more angst and confusion about this election than you had before. We live in confusing times, and the right course of action isn’t always obvious.
But thankfully, all who are united to Christ by faith can remember that regardless of what takes place in our nation tomorrow – or any other day, for that matter – our true identity is found not in being citizens of the United States, but as “citizens of heaven” (Philippians 3:20). Our true kingdom “cannot be shaken” (Hebrews 12:28), no matter what happens in the kingdom we inhabit now.