The Do’s and Don’ts of Christian Political Involvement-

Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare- Jeremiah 29:7 ESV

There are a growing number of Christians who are very much against believers taking an active role in politics.  Few, if any, have an issue with Christians voting. However, some believe Christians supporting a particular party or candidate, running for an office or vocally supporting and/or sponsoring legislation is counter-productive to the growth of Christianity. The concern comes from a good place. It’s simply a fact that Christianity has already become linked to a particular party in the minds of a lot of non-Christian people.  As a result, politics has become a handy excuse for some to dismiss the claims of Jesus. This sad state of affairs will have eternal consequences. 

Nobody wants that. 

But, maybe, just maybe, it’s not the involvement that’s the problem. Maybe, it’s how we’ve been involved that’s the problem. Maybe God is calling Christians to be involved in politics, just in a healthier and more life-giving way than in the past. It’s just true that anytime Christians bow out of any aspect of the culture that part of the culture loses the very thing (Christian influence) that could bring health to it (Matthew 5:14-16).  For that reason, Christians who live in a democracy should do everything to make the democracy they live in as healthy as possible. This might mean running for the school board or city council or some other office.  It might mean choosing to support a particular candidate or piece of legislation that brings about a better and more just world. 

However. 

Just because we should do something it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be careful about HOW we do that thing (Colossians 4:5). In that vein I have a couple of cautions for Christians thinking about getting more involved in the world of politics. If these cautions are heeded, it will make Christians a force for good in the world. They will also go a long way in preventing Christianity from being negatively connected to politics in the minds of non-Christians. 

 We have to:

Understand the limitations of politics- 

Politics can do a lot.  Politics can promote justice, encourage the common good and foster wise behavior in the lives of citizens. Politics can even save lives. However, there are some critically important things politics cannot do. Politics can’t stimulate spiritual conviction and politics don’t have the power to change a human heart. Politics will never lead anyone to Jesus. Only the Holy Spirit can do those things. For that reason, Christians must not give conservative political change the same status as preaching the gospel or promoting Christianity. It’s critical we understand that without the spiritual change that comes with preaching the gospel any political change we get will be subject to the whims of the next political administration and therefore, short-lived. 

Understand the corrupting nature of political influence-

Politics are ultimately all about power and power is the most corrupting force on earth (Ecclesiastes 7:7) and Christians are in no way exempt from the corrupting power of politics. Christians who go into politics have to understand there will be huge temptations to compromise their principals for the sake of just a little more power and a little more influence with those who have money and or power. This means Christians who go into politics need to be open to accountability and Christians who support political candidates need to be ready to move on from any candidate who professes Christ as Lord but who’s actions prove they love power more than God. 

Commit to being the influencer not the influenced- 

Charles Dudley Warner once said politics make strange bedfellows. What he meant was that sometimes people with little in common will come together purely for the sake of shared political interests. This has never been truer in conservative political circles than it is today. The right-wing now include the anything-goes libertarians, those who buy into some rather questionable viewpoints regarding race along with conservative believers in Jesus. This group dynamic makes it critical Christians involved in politics be very careful about what and who they support.  

Know biblical principles and understand what the Bible teaches- 

In order for a Christian to be spiritually useful, we have to know what the Bible says and understand the principles underlying the commands. It’s also critical we are able to make a case for why those principles make good policy for everyone.  For example, the Bible says nothing specifically for or against recreational drug use. However, the Bible does have a lot to say about being wise, sober-minded and thinking clearly about life (1st Peter 5:8, 1stThessalonians 5:5-6, 1st Timothy 3:2-4, Ephesians 5:18). These commands make it highly unlikely God is going to bless recreational drug use. Furthermore, a sober population is a healthy population.  The bottom-line is a good Christian politician knows how to take God’s word and apply to life without broadcasting to whole world that’s what they’re doing (Matthew 10:16)

If we are going to influence the world of politics it is critical we remember whose we are and what we are supposed to be all about. As Christians we are not our free-agents (1st Corinthians 6:19-20). We belong to Jesus and our mission is to reach the people in the culture for Jesus.   

Here’s Why our Broken Political System Could Actually be a Good Thing-

Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fearhating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh- Jude 21-23 NIV

Life is becoming more politized and deeply divided with every passing day. Even Canada, the one nation on earth whose citizens could always be relied on for their graciousness, civility and ability to get along with others is a political powder keg teetering on totalitarianism at this writing.  

Sigh.

The partisanship and division have created a space where political chaos and social anarchy are flourishing. No one on either side of the political divide is speaking to one another because cooperation is now equated with sedition. As a result, nothing sane is taking place in the political realm. A loosening of moral standards has further complicated an increasingly complex situation resulting in a death spiral of lawlessness which has caused people to become more contentious and even downright feral at times. The over-all lack of self-control is causing politicians to feel justified in taking a more despotic approach to policymaking which has led to even more anger, division and lawlessness.

SIGH.

No one in their right mind would celebrate the incredibly volatile cultural and political moment in which we find ourselves. Political unrest, social chaos and anarchy are never really good for anyone but a few tyrants. That being said, I suspect there might be a potential spiritual win in this political division for the Church.  

Here’s why:

In the west at least, our ugly cultural and political muddle can be traced back to a turning away from God and the values that accompany faith in God. This turning away happened slowly over the course of the last century or so with the last two years being a tipping point towards society-wide secularism and atheism. Here’s the thing though: it’s just a fact that human beings were made to believe in something bigger than themselves (Ecclesiastes 3:11). So, when society turned away from God most people did not simply embrace humanism or atheism with open arms. Instead most turned to something just as foolish. Politics.  Politics have become the hope of mankind. 

This is the real reason politics are no longer something most folks can agree to disagree about. Politics are no longer simply trivial matters of policymaking or a matter of personal opinion.  Politics are the new religious dogma. Humans have historically had a hard time agreeing to disagree on matters of faith and dogma. 

We just aren’t built that way. 

The results of all of this have been mostly awful. However, there is some good news in the midst of all the bad, first off truth is being revealed (Hebrews 4:13). 

We are seeing in real time that politics are a rickety and cruel faith system to put our hopes in. We can no longer deny the reality that the cult of politics has made people much meaner and less tolerant of others. This has made our world a much more dangerous and unpleasant place to live and do business. We are learning that without fear of God tempering political views people become myopic and selfish. This makes them dangerous and cruel and society seriously unstable. 

The even better news is that Christians can use this reality to start spiritual conversations with their friends and neighbors. We have all the proof we need that politics are not the answer.  This means God will can use us to show the world where the real answers lie. If people grasp hold of that truth I believe with all my heart we will see revival in our time. 

But before that can happen Christians need to do a little soul searching and scrutinize their own beliefs where politics are concerned. We need ask ourselves if we have been guilty of putting more faith in politics than in Jesus. We must be willing to let go of any idolatrous views we hold that the right politics will ultimately fix the mess we’re in. We have to pray for good leaders but abandon the notion that any human leader holds the answers to our problems.  Christians have to really grasp hold of the truth that what we see in the world right now is our own doing. Even many of God’s people have placed their hope and faith in a manmade system. That system has produced what human beings always produce in their own power and wisdom: division, oppression, human misery, suffering and foolishness.  

Transformation is never fast or easy especially when we’ve messed things up as badly as we have. In order to get the political and societal change Christians universally crave our repentance must go beyond words into action. We have to live what we say we believe. Christians must dedicate their lives to holy, joyful living. We must learn to model biblical truth and invest our time and treasure in the things that really matter. Things like our families, our local churches and our communities.

When God’s people do those things, we will finally get the win we all want so badly.  

Leveraging Your Vote to do the Most Good for the Most People-

Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper– Jeremiah 29:7 NIV

Back in the dark ages before March 2020 I genuinely loved politics, elections and pretty much everything associated with the election process. I would eagerly await the presidential elections every four years the way Linus would await the arrival of the Great Pumpkin every Halloween Eve. I loved learning about each of the candidates and watching as the field narrowed through the primary process. I relished watching the candidates duke it out (metaphorically speaking) during the debates. I enjoyed anticipating the results on election night to such an extent that this avowed morning person would cheerfully stay up into the wee hours of the night just to learn the results. 

That ship has officially sailed. 

Over the course of the last year the realm of politics has become so vile, toxic and obnoxious that for the first time in my adult life I have found myself wishing the whole stupid thing would just be over all ready. I have literally considered finding a cave out of range of wi-fi to hide in until after the election is over. 

 Insert sad face here. 

Unfortunately, God does not allow His people the luxury of hiding from difficult or unpleasant situations.  Rather, Christians are commanded to take on the challenges of life directly with courage and confidence that God is both good and ultimately in control of every situation (Joshua 1:9, 1st Timothy 6:12, Ecclesiastes 3:11, Isaiah 46:10).  It is not my business (or anyone else’s) to tell people who they should or should not vote for. It is the responsibility of individuals to research candidates and decide for themselves who is the best man or woman for the job. 

That said. 

I am deeply convicted Christians should view the whole issue of voting differently from our non-Christian counterparts. With only a few short weeks left we should see our vote as an opportunity to make a difference and bless the lives of both present and future generations. Voting is a task that should be stewarded prudently and prayerfully especially in a year where so much is at stake.  In that vein following are three do’s and two don’t of voting. 

Do: 

Leverage your vote for the Kingdom of God- 

As Christ’s ambassadors in the world (2nd Corinthians 5:20), Christians should always attempt to leverage all of our rights for the good of the Kingdom.  This includes the right to vote.  Christians should vote for the candidates and platforms that value family, believe in the free exercise of religion and support people of faith as they live out their religious convictions in a peaceful manner (1st Timothy 2:2).  Leveraging a vote for the Kingdom also means choosing the candidate with a proven track-record of protecting people of faith from governmental persecution. 

Vote with the future in mind-

Christians are called to consider not just their own situation but also the health and welfare of generations of people they will never know (Joshua 22:27, Psalm 22:30). This means voting for the people and platforms that believe life should be protected at every stage. Believers should support the candidates who promise to enact and enforce laws that permit innocent people to live, work and learn in peace. Perhaps most importantly, it means voting for those who care about issues of justice. Men and women who will do their best to see the guilty punished and the innocent defended within the legal system (Exodus 23:6-8, Proverbs 17:15, Proverbs 18:5, Proverbs 24:24). 

Vote for platforms not just people- 

The platform of a political party reveals a great deal about both the party and the politicians who sign on to the platform. Party platforms tell us the values each party holds to and the agenda candidates will be pressured to pursue. Christians should carefully read the platforms of both political parties and compare those platforms to what the Bible has to say about issues.  It is critical we remember that no matter how neutral or reasonable a candidate may appear to be during election season; ultimately, that candidate will feel pressure from party leadership to support the values and policies their party advocates.   

Now some don’ts: 

Don’t vote only for your own interests- 

No one in their right mind wants to pay higher taxes and a Christian should never waste their vote on a candidate with a proven track record of wasting or misusing taxpayer funds.  However, Christians should vote with more than just their tax bracket in mind. Christians should look at candidates holistically and choose the man or woman who will do the most good for the most people. Period. 

Don’t vote with your feelings- 

Seriously. Just. Don’t. Voting is not about how warm, squishy and happy a candidate makes you feel when they speak.  It’s about who can actually get the job done and make a difference. For that reason alone, voters should be wary of any candidate who makes appeals based on emotion rather than facts or concrete plans for the future. 

Finally.  

PRAY. We need this year more than ever. 

Seriously.