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To vote for a national leader is a privilege in the United States. Though it’s self-evident, it’s vital to know what every individual reading this does not have that privilege where they live. Voting is something that I do not take for granted. Though there are many problematic issues with our nation, to be able to vote for a President is one of the better things.
The privilege of voting for a leader is even sweeter for Christians because our Americanism is not the essential thing that describes who we are. Living in America and being an American is like having a temporary visa because of our alien status. America is not our permanent address; we have a citizenship that is other-worldly and life-altering.
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:20).
All Christians should live as though they are in a foreign country. Like Abraham, our Old Testament brother, God has called some of His children to live in America for His fame. We take up American soil with our tents, but not as people with deep roots. We are waiting on the Lord to take us to a better place as we live out this final chapter before that glorious exodus.
By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God (Hebrews 11:9-10).
When the good Lord calls us to our permanent, eternal home, we will gladly kiss this place goodbye and follow Him to the land of promise. This awareness shapes our worldview regarding our temporary existence on earth, which is why our hearts are not unduly troubled by this upcoming election.
As a responsible citizen in my temporary home, I will cast my vote. I will ask the Lord to accomplish His perfect will in the outcome, and I will rest in my Lord, which is one of the many perks of being in His family. I trust these potent verses will settle your soul as you think about the election season and the outcome.
Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also (John 14:1-3).
One way you can think about living as a foreigner in a foreign land is to consider yourself on vacation. For some, this is the worst vacation of your life, but hang with me on this analogy.
You go on vacation for a short period. If it’s a great one, you’re okay if you can extend it. For those of us who have had horrible life experiences or we’re nearing the end of our lives, we look forward to entering into the Lord’s rest. But while on vacation, you act responsibly.
You don’t steal the towels or the Bibles during your stay in a hotel. You want to be Jesus everywhere you go, even while vacationing. But it’s never lost on you that it’s not your home. You have a permanent residence, and at some point, you long to be there. Oh, my soul, how I want another community—a city on a hill, a place called heaven.
Meanwhile, back on earth, Christians are responsible for making God’s name great because believers do not divorce themselves from who they are, no matter where they live. We are Christlike examples who hope that our sphere of influence will observe and follow us (Ephesians 5:1). We are stewards of God’s blessings all the time.
This worldview is why all Christians steward their national responsibility through a biblical filter. It’s why we want to do our duty as temporary citizens by modeling and practicing stewardship opportunities. We are stewards of this gift of life, and casting a vote is one way we can steward the responsibility of being a permanent Christian in temporary America.
Voting is something that I do because I care about my temporary country. While I’m a sovereigntist by practice, I also believe in human responsibility. I’m comfortable living in the mystery of these two truths (Deuteronomy 29:29). Believers live in that space between God’s sovereign control over all things and our responsibility to vote (Genesis 50:20).
Lucia and I are passing this stewardship vision to our children. When they were younger, they went with us to the voting place. We made it a family event. They did not fully understand the process, but they loved being with us and standing in the long, curvy lines, chatting up our “neighbors.”
Typically, we would take pastries to the “poll volunteers” and thank them for their sacrifice by serving us. Because of our NPO status, we receive free Panera Bread leftovers each week to giveaway to folks. And our kids always loved the voting stickers. It was one more of those family memories we could gift to them.
I hope the process of voting will be one of the many ways our children will think about stewarding the Lord’s mercies to us. When our oldest came of age, she did follow our lead by casting her ballot. Not every person gets a chance to cast a vote for a temporary leader of their temporary home.
In most presidential elections, two leading candidates are running for office. Typically, neither candidate carries an authentic Christian message or fully embraces all of our Christian values. In most cases the more vital thing in elections is pragmatism: “I’ll take the position that will give me the most votes.”
Authentic Christian candidates tend to get shouted down or marginalized when it comes to the popular vote. I would not expect anything else in a paganized country where the centrality of Christ is a target for mocking rather than a reality that calls for our highest praises. When it comes to politics, little has changed throughout human history.
If Christ were running for office in His day, I’m sure the power brokers would have doubled down to make sure that He would not ascend to a political position of power. In most cases, we have two candidates who either reject God altogether or marginally acknowledge Him, which always raises the question among some Christians, “How can you vote for a nonbeliever?”
The question is odd in light of our consistent “affirmation” of many non-Christian things. We cast our ballots, affirm organizations, give money, and support unbelievers’ causes regularly. It’s a common practice for Christians to do this. To live in this world, you cannot do otherwise.
What is one of your favorite movies? All of them aren’t Christian flicks. What about a popular leader who does not line up with all your ethics? But you agree with them on matters that are vital to you? You do not have to feel guilty about participating or enjoying something from a fellow image-bearer who happens to be a pagan.
God’s common grace does rain on unjust people (Matthew 5:45). And sometimes, some pagan people use their gifting in such a way that a Christian can support. You should not have a conscience issue about voting for an unregenerate person who lines up better with your Christian values. Of course, you can refrain from voting if it’s a conscience issue for you. How does not participating square with your call to be salt and light in your world (Matthew 5:13-16)?
There are two controlling verses that I find comfort in when it comes to national elections. They also help to guard my heart against anger, worry, anxiety, or fear. If these verses are new to you in light of this article, perhaps you can add them to your toolbox as a measure to shore up against temptations.
The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will (Proverbs 21:1).
For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth” (Romans 9:17).
God will have His person in the office. Become a “good sovereigntist” when it comes to elections. You’re not dismissing your responsibility, but you want to find your sweet spot between those two doctrinal responsibilities. Are you comfortable living in that mystery? Of course, you do know there is a logical priority when it comes to sovereignty and responsibility. Though you live in the mystery, you know Sovereign Lord is always first in your theology and practice.
Listen to how Peter talked about these two doctrines when he was preaching in Acts, as he brought these realities together. He merged God’s definite plan to crucify His Son and the responsible people who delivered Jesus as part of the Lord’s redemptive purposes.
This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men (Acts 2:22).
Peter was talking about primary and secondary causes. God is always the primary cause, while fully responsible humans are the secondary causes who cooperate with God in the story that the Lord is writing. Though you have the opportunity to do something, you can simultaneously rest, knowing that God is always in control.
If “your candidate” does not get in office, you continue to situate your faith in Sovereign Lord rather than the candidate of your choice. This season is not a time for anxiousness or anger, not if you’re a Christian. This political opportunity is a time for the people of faith to demonstrate to the world what true worship is when practically applied.
Who knows, maybe God will raise a lousy president to make His name great. It won’t be the first time He did this. I have wondered how folks thought about Pharaoh rising to political prominence during the time of Egyptian world power. I don’t think I would have voted for him. I would have hoped for Moses to rule. But God chose another man because He had a better plan (Isaiah 55:8-9). Reflect on these two thoughts as you think about an ungodly president at the helm of our country.
My prayer for you is that you will vote and show your faith in God, even if your candidate does not get in office. You can do this because you are a Christian, and you know at some level of your heart that human strategies or the devil’s schemes will not thwart God’s plans (1 Corinthians 1:25).
One of the curiosities about Christians and politics is the lack of faith that some of them exhibit. It is becoming rare to hear faith-filled responses from Christians during a political cycle. Too many Christians sound similar to the secular culture in their snarky-ness, frustration, and fretting.
Graciousness, grace, and grace-filled are not the norm when believers get involved in politics. It’s sad. If you were to put all the Christian comments about politics and politicians in the same basket as the world’s speech, it would be a challenge to tell the difference.
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person (Colossians 4:6).
We should be heavily involved in our country’s happenings, but we should be doing it with faith and grace, rather than thinking, talking, and acting like our world. When it comes to politics, some Christians seem to be more under the spell of harsh talking heads than the illuminating and controlling power of the Spirit of God.
With [our tongues] we bless our Lord and Father, and with it, we curse people who are made in the likeness of God (James 3:9).
You don’t have to vote for those who are against some of the things you value the most, and you don’t have to speak unkindly or derogatory about them. They are people made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). They do not need our sinful anger or our hatred. They need our Jesus. I suspect we will never agree with their politics or agendas, but we can pray for them.
As you get ready to vote, may I suggest that you check the box in your heart first? Will you vote for God’s control over you while resting in His will? Christians will ultimately win. And since you know that outcome already, let’s be gracious “ultimate winners,” while seeking to make the name of our “Candidate” look great among those who don’t know Him.