I’m filled with mixed emotions and beliefs whenever election season comes around. I typically start out with hope. I realize where we’ve come as a country and can see just how good laws have benefited us throughout the years. But then as politicians begin to talk and cell phone videos are captured behind closed doors, I become deeply frustrated and disenchanted with the whole thing.
I look at my friends, neighbors, family members – people I see all around me – and it seems like politics often brings out the worst in us. We’re not politicians, but still we devolve into disrespect, anger, and downright hostility for other people.
If that’s not bad enough, when I look at the candidates who are most likely to win, they are from one of two parties – both of which increasingly do not represent how I think and feel. I can’t vote for a candidate who I can feel good about. I now have to vote for the lesser of two evils, or more often, against the greater of two evils.
“Most people would vote Mussolini over Hitler even though Thomas Jefferson was on the ballot but polling poorly.” – Unknown
Besides, would sane people even want to be president? Can you even get to that level of politics by being honest and kind? Even if a candidate went into politics to serve the greater good, it seems likely to me that throughout their career, they found it necessary to lie, cheat, or bend their ethics in order to advance themselves. I wish this was the exception, but more and more this seems like the rule. Normal people who I would like to see run seem to either don’t enter or end up getting weeded out early on.
As a person who is trying to follow Jesus, voting can be absolutely mind-boggling. We’re led to believe that a candidate not only has to have the same views on things like foreign policy, immigration, and finances, but they now have to be more Christian than the other candidates.
Recently I had a conversation with a Christian family member who was lamenting this difficulty. He wanted to vote for the person who would do the best job, but has found it difficult to vote for someone who didn’t share his views on abortion. He felt it was his Christian duty to put more weight on that issue than on others.
In a sense, I think a lot of Christians feel like they have to vote for Jesus. ‘If we can only get a good Christian leader back in office, our country will finally turn around.’ – is the popular narrative.
But the more I think about, the more I start to wonder:
What if trying to vote for Jesus is the cause of my frustration?
In fact, what if Jesus cares more about how I vote than who I vote for?
Don’t get me wrong – who we vote for is important. But what if it’s only like 20% of what’s important?
Consider three things:
- Jesus did not bring about change through political power. He was offered political power on more than one occasion and rejected it (Matt 4:8-10; Jn. 6:15).
- God was not thrilled that the Israelites wanted a King and warned what they did when they’re in charge (1 Sam. 8).
- God warns us about putting too much hope in powerful nations (Isa. 30:1-5).
What’s the 80%? What might God care more about? What about:
- Honoring those that disagree with us
- Honoring those in authority
- Listening to other people and hearing their stories
- Turning enemies into friends
- Finding peace and common ground
- Serving others
Didn’t Jesus say that aside from loving God, the second most important thing to do was to love other people?
I think we know what will happen if we keep doing things as they’ve always been done.
What if we decided to change? What if we stood for love?