On the National Election (part 3)

“And in that day you will cry out because of your king,
whom you have chosen for yourselves,
but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”
(1 Samuel 8:18 (ESV)

(This post is an updated reprint of a post from 4 years ago.)

As you stand in the voting booth on election day, or as you fill out the early voter ballot, do you have to stifle that voice inside you saying, “meh.”  Lackluster.  Unimpressive.  Indistinguishable.  Pompous.  Arrogant.  Windbag.  Are these words that could be used by you to describe both candidates?  Cue up Simon and Garfunkel – “Laugh about it, cry about it, when you have to choose. Anyway you look at it you loose.”  With every election cycle I hear the phrase, “lesser of two evils,” and I wonder, have we become that jaded and cynical, or are the candidates always that bad?

Then I hear Sting singing, “You could say I’d lost my belief in our politicians; they all seemed like game show hosts to me.”

So what do we do when we vote this year and we really don’t like the candidates on the ballot?  Samuel warned the Israelites that they could complain about their king once he came to power, because he would conscript their sons and daughters to national service, take the best of their crops and livestock in taxes, and lead them in places they did not want to go.  The people would cry out to God because of their king, and we are crying out to God because of our candidates.  Not much has changed.

But that should be a reminder for us, and is the first point of today’s devotion:

1)  We are a fallen people.

Since Adam and Eve’s rebellion in the garden, all of humanity has been subject to sin, and continues in rebellion against God.  We are a fallen people living in a broken world.  Even when we come together with a form of government that has checks and balances built in to help curb the corruption of power that flows from the pervasive sinfulness of the human heart, it is still a human government in which sin permeates everything.

We are a broken people led by broken leaders living in a broken society as part of a broken world.  Politicians will lie.  They will make empty promises to gain political favor and power.  They will disappoint, deceive, and disgust us.  Even when we find a candidate who is a follower of Christ and pursues the righteousness of the Word of God in his life and his politics, they will eventually let you down.

I don’t write this to make you more cynical and have you give up in disgust.  Rather, I write this so that maybe, just maybe, we can see our candidates and elected leaders for who they really are, and treat them with a little patience and grace.  Our political leaders are not, and cannot be our saviors.  If you are looking for a savior, look nowhere other than Jesus Christ, “for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).  Instead, let us remember to pray for our elected leaders and candidates, to pray for God’s grace to transform them (and us), and that God’s sovereign hand would guide them.

2) You will never find someone you agree with entirely

Think about this: when two people agree with each other on everything, one of them is unnecessary.  You love and adore your spouse, but you know you don’t agree with him or her on everything.  You appreciate and support your pastor, but there are areas where, after faithful study of God’s Word, you find that you disagree – not on things of primary importance, but on secondary things.

Friends, this is just a fact of life.  Put 10 people in a room and you will have 11 different opinions – yeah, because some people even hold conflicting views in their own minds.  Unless you are running for office, you will not find a candidate that you agree with entirely.  So give yourself, and everyone else around you, a break – stop looking for the perfect politician.

Instead, know yourself.  Identify what your key principles are, the values that you hold most dear, the positions that you feel are essential.  And keep the list short: If everything is an essential priority for you, then nothing is really an essential priority for you.  Maybe your top three concerns are, 1) A reasonable and balanced budget, 2) A strong national defense, and 3) The protection of the unborn child.  Find a candidate who supports these things, and bear “with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive” (Colossians 3:13).

3) Vote your Conscience and Faith

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the importance of voting your faith, that is, letting your faith influence how you vote and for whom you vote.  If, then, your faith and conscience are at conflict with the candidates presented, what are you supposed to do?  Remember this, there are always more than the main two candidates.  It may be hard to find information on the alternative, “third-party” candidates, but they are out there.  There is tremendous pressure from the mainline parties not to “throw your vote away,” saying that a vote for the third-party is a vote for the “other guy” – both parties use this line.  We have become such a hyper-sensationalized society that everything is life-or-death, win-or-lose, “this is the most important election ever – until the next election, that is.”

Take a deep breath. “Keep Calm and Carry On.”  When you go to the polls this year, your vote is precisely that: your vote.  You are answerable to you and to the Lord, no one else need know how you have voted.  As long as when you pull that lever (does anyone pull a lever to vote anymore?) your conscience is clear (Acts 24:16), then you know you have done the right thing.

May God’s grace and peace be with you!

SDG

Vote Your Faith

“Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s,
and to God the things that are God’s.”
(Matthew 22:21 (ESV)

The first presidential debate of the 2012 election has just taken place, the lines are being clearly drawn between the leading candidates, and November 6th is rapidly approaching.  And while there may be some grand revelation that comes out in the next 30 days, chances are, you’ve already made up your mind and know who you are voting for – in fact, with early voting, you may have already voted.

But here’s something to think about: Has your faith influenced your decision at the polls this year?  Interestingly, the Family Research Council reports:

many believers don’t even consider their Christian values when voting, often choosing candidates whose positions are at odds with their own beliefs, convictions, and values.  A study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life a few years ago showed that 62% of Americans say their faith has little to do with their voting decisions.  That’s tragic because Jesus expects us to influence every part of culture and society as salt and light-including the democratic process.

Too often, we connect ourselves with a political party, and then begin to project our values and beliefs into that party.  We think, ”Well, if I believe this, and I’m a member of the party, then surely the rest of the party believes it too.”  We look to the “religious right” or the “progressive party” to affirm and fight for our values, when in reality, neither party can perfectly represent that which makes up the Christians hopes and expectations.  We must remember that we are sojourners here, that our nation, while perhaps the best experiment in freedom and liberty man has known, is governed by fallen man, and is, as such, liable and even prone to fall and fail at times.

The Family Research Council goes on to say,

Obviously, Christian “rulers” would have Christian values, right?  Not necessarily.  There are a lot of folks who use Christian lingo, but when you look at their positions and votes and their associations, it becomes evident that they do not line up with biblical values.  That’s why it is so important to do your homework on the candidates.  Don’t just listen to their campaign rhetoric, look at their records in office.  Don’t just watch their political ads, look at their positions on the issues.  Think about this: Every candidate has his or her own set of values and positions on important issues. Don’t you think that where a candidate stands on moral issues is far more important than the party he or she belongs to or the campaign ads and promises?  Shouldn’t we vote for candidates who share our moral values?

So this hear, I encourage you to vote your values.  This may be a risky vote, because it may mean voting for a third party candidate, and the third party seldom has a chance to win a national election.  But win or lose, our loyalty must be with the Lord Jesus; we must vote his values.  This means, at the very least, voting for those who protect and defend the sanctity of human life, especially that of the unborn.  This means voting for those who protect and defend marriage as between one man and one woman, and will support the central institution of our society, the family.  This means voting for those who will defend the freedom of religion, the freedom of religious expression, religious practice, and religious assembly.

Next Week – What to do When You Don’t Like Either Candidate?

SDG