Election Day 2016. In my whole life, I can’t remember more people being more ready to get to this day. Not because very many of us are excited about finally getting to vote for our candidate(s), but simply because we want this campaign to end. Unfortunately I fear the election won’t put an end to all the negative rhetoric that has plagued the nation for more than a year.
For various reasons, I’ve made no effort to publicly try to convince anyone to vote for one candidate or another, or even to vote at all. That’s a personal choice. Many have tried to influence others, and that’s not inherently a bad thing. In fact, intelligent, well-informed, civil exchanges of thoughts in appropriate ways and proper settings is a very good thing.
To say this election is important is a vast understatement. There are issues and policies at stake that effect all of us (and others) tremendously right now and even for generations to come. I am as concerned as anybody about where our country and world are and where we are going. As painful as it has been, I think I’m about as informed as reasonably possible on all the candidates, options, scenarios, and everything that is at stake.
But beyond all the political, legal, and moral issues, I have other concerns. These concerns stem from being a citizen not just of the United States or even the world, but of a much larger kingdom. Being a Christian definitely shapes my political views, but I think it’s vital that our vision goes beyond just what is on the ballot.
In no particular order, it concerns me that many are using politics as a test and statement of one’s Christianity. Yes, I believe that our faith and convictions should impact how we vote, but how we vote does not determine our Christianity. I certainly don’t claim that I’ve got it all figured out, but at the risk of oversimplification, I believe that being a Christian is based on whether we’ve trusted Jesus Christ, not on our political party or how we vote on certain issues no matter how important they may be. I don’t think it’s Jesus plus whatever.
So hopefully we don’t really believe that our salvation depends on our politics - just whether or not we’re a “good” Christian. Unfortunately we’ve all missed that boat. Romans 3:10-11 says “…There is no one righteous, not even one;
there is no one who understands…” That doesn’t mean we quit trying.
But in the mean time, what do we accomplish when we publicly bash others (including Christian brothers and sisters) who think and vote differently from us? Cheap shots and petty arguments with people who don’t agree with us rarely change their minds but rather entrenches them deeper in their opposing position.
Not only are we not changing many minds (or votes) with our social media and other public attacks, we’re not representing ourselves or Christ very well to those who watch and listen. In John 13:34-35, Jesus says “…Love one another. As I have loved you, so also you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.”
If I’m a non-Christian (or anybody else for that matter) observing some of what’s being said by those claiming the name of Christ, a lot of it doesn’t seem much like love. There’s not much there attracting me to be even mildly interested in what Christianity is all about. It gives me yet another excuse to stay away from church and God. Does that matter? I think it does. A lot.
For some people, elections are pretty easy. Their minds are made up even before they know who the candidates are. They are party loyalists. Everything their party/candidate does is obviously right and everything the other party/candidate does is wrong and stupid. Part of pulling for one’s party is pulling for the other party to fail and gleefully cheering those failures no matter who those failures hurt. It’s another sport in which party is sadly more important than country, not to mention world or kingdom.
For many of us, even including some party loyalists, this election has not been easy. We are faced with the choice of two candidates who are widely considered the most unpopular, unfit, undesirable, un-presidential nominees in many years - perhaps ever. Without rehashing all we’ve been bombarded with for too many months, I understand why some Christian friends are in the never Hillary camp and are either enthusiastically or reluctantly supporting Trump. I understand why other Christian friends are among the never Trumpers and are enthusiastically or reluctantly supporting Clinton. I understand why many of us don’t want to vote for either candidate even while holding our noses. I get it.
In a less imperfect world, we would still be passionate about politics but with a greater sense of fairness and the understanding that we can disagree without being disagreeable. Or just downright mean and hateful.
If I thought all the animosity would end with this election, I probably wouldn’t be writing this, but I suspect it will continue and possibly even escalate. Each one of us will choose how we participate. Participate in a way that will make a difference - not just politically, but in a larger sense.
I care deeply about this election and all that is at stake. I want to make a difference. In spite of what we always like to say, (unpopular but true statement coming) when all is said and done my one vote all by itself really isn’t going to make much of a difference.
But how I treat people and how well I represent Christ might.