It’s that time again. Politicians are declaring their candidacies and starting to troll for votes, and Evangelical American Christians are a tempting target. Over the next 17 months, we will be sought out, courted, wined and dined by any number of aspiring office-holders at the local, state and federal levels.
Many of these folks will do their best to convince us that they are “one of us,” sharing our concerns and our values, claiming that a vote for them is the best way to address the issues that matter most to us. They will speak our tribal language, flash their faith credentials, and warn us that their opponent will move the country in a godless direction unless we intervene in large numbers.
They will be counting on us. All of them.
And I have to admit that I have grown weary of the dance.
In order to better understand this post, you need to know that I am passionate about politics. I love to read about the inside story of campaigns, and am fascinated by the workings of the three branches of American government. I was already a political junkie before moving to France for ten years, where the complex multi-party system, which produces BOTH a President and a Prime Minister, left the relatively simple bipolar American system in the shade. If I weren’t a pastor, I would most likely have become a political journalist.
But I’ve now lived through decades of empty promises and disappointing results. I’ve seen men who played the faith card in public reveal themselves to be anything but faithful in their private lives. I’ve seen my faith become synonymous in the public eye with one political party, and I regret the way it has compromised our focus on our real mission.
I’m less enthusiastic about politics than I used to be. Much less.
I know this will disappoint many of my friends who believe that Christian involvement in politics is the only hope left for our country. They will respond, “If Christians got involved and voted their convictions, this country would be SO much better off.” I get that. I really do.
But think about this: the church of the first century was undoubtedly the most powerful and influential group of Christ-followers in history, and those folks changed the world without ever seeing a ballot. The same phenomenon is happening today in places like China, where Christians would never dream of wielding political power – that option is simply not open to them. So they change their country one person at a time, through lives in which the love of Jesus and the transforming power of the gospel are on display.
That is where they put their energies. It works. Which shouldn’t surprise us, because it has the added advantage of being Biblical.
So I plan to vote, and I will vote my conscience as a Christ-follower, supporting candidates and issues that I think best reflect a Biblical worldview. Knowing me, I’ll also get into some intense political conversations along the way – I haven’t changed my stripes completely.
But I hope I will also take heed to the warning I read today in Psalm 146: “Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save” (v. 3).
Yes, I will vote for candidates, but I no longer put my trust in them. I plan to put my trust in Christ, in His plan, in His agenda, and in His mission.
I know I will not be disappointed.
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