A Believer's (voting) Guide
"Also, 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
As I think about our countdown towards November 8th, I am wanting to center my prayers, my focus, my stance, and my witness on what God desires of His people heading into this crucial season for our nation. Even as I write to you I can still hear the words of my pastor at The Church On The Way, Jack Hayford, who would exhort the congregation to be faithful in prayer (our duty as Heavenly citizens) and active in voting (our duty as American citizens). Often politics and especially elections bring out the worst in people. We become nervous about the landscape of our land, we become divisive with people who have differing viewpoints, and we become agitated and cynical towards specific candidates and parties. When pressed or stressed we discover areas and attitudes which are in need of a Jesus adjustment and a Holy Spirit saturation.
My hope for us as the Body of Christ and as God's children is that we would shine brightly during this important moment in the history of our nation and that the 2016 election would bring out the very best in us. In the New Testament there are multiple times where the writer, guided by the Spirit, calls believers in Christ to live out a true and powerful witness in our world. In Philippians 2:14-15 the apostle Paul calls God's people to, "Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation." Here are a few things each of us can do for our country to bring the blessing of God:
More than any other activity, prayer is the instrument God has given us to effect true change. Beginning on October 23rd we will have a focused prayer time for our nation each Sunday morning heading towards the election. 2 Chronicles 7:14 tells us, "If my people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land."
2) Winning arguments are not as important as winning people.
Let's be careful in what we say and how we say it. Let's be sensitive to the Spirit of God when we are in conversations with others. Let's be sensitive to understand where the other person is coming from. Let's not be so impassioned by our position that we interrupt people, we become condescending of their viewpoint, or we treat them as an "enemy", rather than a "friend." James 1:19-20 warns us, "Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires."
3) Separate your disagreement of a candidate's politics with an unholy disdain for the person.
This may be the most difficult one for people who have strong convictions. We forget that our battle is "not with flesh and blood" but rather with "spiritual principalities and powers of darkness" (Ephesians 6). Regardless of what we believe in regards to policy or politics, we are called to love people. I have been deeply saddened over these past 8 years whenever our President has been called names, targeted with virulent criticism or outright hatred. I am not trying to defend nor support his position on several issues, but each time he was the target of an arrow of hate, my immediate thoughts went to his two daughters and what they had to hear and endure with the one they lovingly call "daddy". 1 Peter 2:17 gives us the marching orders we have as a citizen, "Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor."
4) No matter what happens do not lose HOPE!
When we wake up on November 9th things will have changed. There will be new city officials elected to serve Thousand Oaks, new state measures that will go into effect, and the 45th President of the United States will be elected. I believe that how we respond in the aftermath of the election is just as crucial, if not more so than leading up to it. We have to remember that God is still on the throne and His supreme purpose will not be thwarted by any human results. Romans 12:12 encourages us to, "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer."