“This is the most important election in American history.” It seems that these words are uttered every four or eight years in this country. And while this year’s election is very important, it is not outside of God’s sovereignty, and life will continue after all ballots are cast. Election outcomes have an impact on the future of our country, but our actions and words throughout this process are important as well. The power of the vote is undeniable, but Scripture also shows us how God has used the best and worst of world leaders to do His bidding even when their hearts were far from Him.
Throughout world history, peaceful elections and mass unfettered civic engagement has not been the norm. In many places, the fight for government control is violent and unpredictable.
We need to recognize just how unique it is that we have these types of elections, and how vitally essential it is that we vote so it continues this way. We need to be good stewards of what has been passed down to us by previous generations, because so many before us were not allowed to have a say. As I prepare to cast my ballot, I am reminded that it took multiple civil rights acts and constitutional amendments to grant descendants of the enslaved and women the right to have their voices heard. If not because of my own volition, for the sake of those who were denied, beaten and even murdered, I take voting seriously. And I believe all of us should engage in this important process. No matter our backgrounds, we know that God has placed each one of us in this country, at this time, together, to strive to make this land all that its founding documents promise it to be.
Romans 13:1 says, “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.”
As Christ-followers, we are called to engage with and respect those who have been placed in positions of power, even if we don’t agree with them, knowing that God has allowed these men and women to rise to their positions for His purposes. This Scripture holds true whether the president wears red or blue and is conservative, liberal or in between. What I’ve discovered over the last several months, after conversing with people on different sides of the aisle, is that Christians reside in the constituencies and leadership of every party, and support of either side should not serve as a litmus test for entrance into the Kingdom of God. Scripture does, however, teach us that, as Christians, we are to live from a Biblical perspective and advocate for policies that will uphold the life-giving principles of God’s Word, leading people into an existence that most resembles His prescription for relationships with our fellow man and with our Creator.
No political party represents the fullness of God’s Kingdom. Created, organized, mobilized and even weaponized by humans, they all have faults. When asked, my advice during this election season has been to prayerfully consider the combination of the platform, the perception, the policies and the politician when voting. There are no absolute right answers to this political equation, and because of this we need to be able to extend grace to our brothers and sisters when discussing the various moral and secular issues they prioritize in voting.
Sadly, this election has driven a wedge in the Church as much as it has in the world. This division is large because we have unashamedly coupled our Christianity with our chosen political parties and political leaders, pledging blind allegiance to them at all costs while condemning those whose convictions lead them elsewhere. Although our two-party system funnels us into these binary choices, we must remember that our allegiance is first and foremost to the Kingdom of God, not an administration. When this election is over, we should not be in a place where we cannot fellowship, love or listen to our brothers and sisters in Christ simply because we were so against each other during an election. I am not naïve. Due to the venom that has been spewed and the hidden attitudes unveiled, some relationships are beyond redemption, but the body of Christ has a hope of glory, a mandate of unity and power to achieve it that is unfound elsewhere.
Election time drives emotions high. It should! We are talking about very important issues such as foreign policy, criminal justice, healthcare, civil rights, sanctity of life and many other topics. We should be emotional about these things because these are things God cares about. Even in this time of elevated emotion, our rhetoric matters and the words we utter about the other side, words that bleed outside of policy and into an insult, will undoubtedly create wounds that will not magically heal on November 4.
We are not citizens of this world; we are aliens who are only passing through. And yet, while we are not of the world, we are in the world. God always uses His people to carry out His mission in specific times, places and spheres throughout history. Right now is our time in history! As His ambassadors on earth, it is imperative that we let our light shine, courageously living with integrity (not perfection), and influencing people while we are here. Speak truth in love; show the love of Christ; never bend convictions but cloak them in compassion; fight for the oppressed, vulnerable and hopeless; stand for good; and seek to do kindness and justice. All these things come to the forefront in every election — these are what we advocate for. Presidents may change every four or eight years, but righteousness is timeless. No matter who is in the Oval Office, God is always on the throne.
Lastly, there is so much focus on the presidential campaign, but so much of what impacts the daily lives of Americans is decided on the local level. The district attorney, mayor, judges, sheriff, state senators and representatives are usually names that aren’t as well-known, but getting involved in these local elections is even more important than national elections in many respects.
After the election, it is imperative that, regardless of who wins, we are able to bind up some of the wounds we’ve incurred as a nation and as a Church. When it’s all over, somebody will be in charge. May we vow to respect each other in spite of our differences, with an eternal perspective focused on winning the soul instead of winning the argument. Even though we love America and want to see her succeed, she won’t last forever. There is only one perfect and lasting government, and it is yet to come.
— Benjamin Watson, former NFL tight end
Benjamin Watson is a regular contributor to The Increase, providing articles and opinions. Check out Benjamin’s Increase profile here.
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