It broke my heart to see the two families leave the church. What was so confusing, though, was they left for opposite reasons. Well, to be more accurate, they both left because of politics. But one family claimed I was a dangerous right-wing Christian nationalist, and the other said I was an unbiblical liberal teaching critical race theory. If both sides had so misunderstood me, it probably wasn’t about me but about the issues going on inside of them.
As we head into voting season, I wanted to share some thoughts about voting, unity, and thinking biblically about the issues our world is facing.
1. Vote and have an opinion. Voting is a privilege that came at a dear cost. I encourage everyone to vote and express their values with their vote. We can’t change everything, but we can vote. There are issues that I believe are clearly biblical. In my opinion, protecting the unborn is a biblical value (Psalm 139:13-18; Luke 1:44), so I will be voting against CA Prop 1. Yet I can understand, after this year of government mandates, how women are sensitive to the government telling them what they can do with their bodies. Our votes matter, even when the vote doesn’t go the way we want. Ajith Fernando wrote, “Christian leaders do not take sides in a conflict. They battle over issues, not for sides” (Acts, p.422)
2. You are an ambassador. When you vote, remember you are first a citizen of heaven (Phil 3:20) – so you represent those values first. Christians are ambassadors of Christ (2 Cor 5:20). This means that we are sent to advocate for the values of God. Rick Warren said, “Based on 1 John 3:16 we are to love the people and hate the value system of the world. As Christians, we often do the opposite.” Christians don’t need to pick parties. In fact, it is easy to turn our political party into an idol. No party perfectly represents the values of Christ. Discerning Christians hold firm to the way of Jesus and loosely to party affiliation.
3. Think biblically before politically. As you come into any issue, look to God’s Word for guidance. Our church does not put out voter guides but points people to the Bible for guidance on important—even hot topic—issues. This could be immigration, abortion, gun control, sexuality, or any other issue. You may not agree with my take on the issue, but the key for every believer is what God’s Word says. Scripture doesn’t say what we like but what is best for us. Hosanna Wong said, “How we win the battle will not be how we stand but how we kneel.”
4. Work for the unity of the church. We are seeing more and more people evaluating and exiting churches based on politics. The church can be a place where we can discuss differences with grace around God’s Word. Only anxious people need echo chambers. Politics are important, but countries are not saved by governments – people are saved by Jesus. Governments operate in a “power over” system. “While all the versions of the kingdom of the world acquire an exercise power over others, the kingdom of God incarnated and model and the person of Jesus Christ, advances only by exercising power under others. It expands by manifesting the power of self-sacrificial, Calvary-like love” (Greg Boyd, The Myth of a Christian Nation, 14). Christ set up His Church to bless every country – it is His chosen community to share the truth of the gospel. Those who love their countries will be consistent participants in a local church.
I hope you will head into the future with hope and your head held high. I truly believe our best days are ahead. “We still have the freedom to meet, to preach, to hand out Christian literature. Yet we blame the environment for our powerlessness rather than facing our spiritual condition. We talk endlessly about how godless the country is becoming when the only answer to the situation is for us, the church, to return to our spiritual birthright as a powerful community in Jesus Christ” (Jim Cymbala, Fresh Power, 81). God is at work, building His Church, and working to transform every human heart! You get to be part of that work. Be anchored in God’s Word, consistent in a local church, engaged in civics as an ambassador of Christ.