Christians, Fear, and the Ballot Box

When I started this blog, I never thought I would be writing a devotional post about the current political state of our nation, but here it goes. Thomas Paine wrote, “These are the times that try men’s souls”. If I had to describe the current election, I would say, “These are the times that try Christian’s testimonies.” I know you’ve seen it, especially if you use social media. The onslaught of political triteness is nauseating. With two very polarizing candidates, Christians are being asked to take sides. Never in my lifetime, have I seen believers so divided. Most of the time this divide centers around whether it is better to vote for the lesser of two evils, to vote for a 3rd party candidate who likely won’t win, or not to vote at all. These questions are causing great turmoil within the church and perhaps doing damage to the testimony of believers that will be difficult to repair when the dust settles on the morning of November 9th. Social media only seems to complicate this more, because let’s face it, we feel more comfortable writing things in that setting which we don’t want to say to each other’s faces. We post things that are clearly inflammatory, but when the onslaught of written comments come, we state that we are not looking for a fight.

The burning question we all face between now and November 8th is, “What do we do?” You probably assume I am talking about how to vote, but I want to argue that what we do, say, and write between now and the election will have a far greater impact than what box we check on the ballot. I feel very comfortable making this statement because it already has had an impact. This election is tearing us apart as believers. I am afraid we are losing sight of what is really important. Whether we realize it or not, we are showing to the lost world around us where our values and priorities really are. This past week I saw one believer write on social media that if Hillary wins we should defecate on the U.S. flag because it will be “all over at that point”. When I was a kid, I remember being told that dogs can smell fear, that they can sense when you are afraid of them. Right now I think that non-believers can smell our fear and Christians seem to be reeking of it. Many are afraid. We are afraid because we are looking in all the wrong places. In Colossians 3:2, Paul tells believers to, “Set your affections on things above.” He goes on to reason that above (Heaven) is where Christ is. The opposite of course are the “things below”, which translates to this world and I think specifically trust in man and trust in possessions. Let me offer you some very simple advice. Put your trust in God! Only he can offer true hope and that hope is an eternal hope.

I am not saying there is no room for Christians to be involved in politics or to stand up for a cause. In fact I think an argument can be made from Scripture that we should absolutely do that. There is a stewardship principle at work here when it comes to our vote and the fact that we live in a country that allows us to be involved in the political process. Think about this for a second: when the Scriptures were written there wasn’t a democratic process in place (at least in the way we know it now). When Paul wrote to Timothy and instructed him to pray for Kings and others in places of authority (1 Timothy 2:2), the world and politics were much different. Paul later became a martyr at the hands of one of history’s most unstable rulers. New Testament believers not only obeyed a government they disagreed with (Rome was a cesspool), they prayed for the very rulers that persecuted them and murdered them. So what about American Christians? Should we vote? I would personally say a resounding YES! I see my vote as a gift that God has given to me, something he has placed in my charge to use as wisely as I can. Should we stand up for what we believe? Of course we should and if the government calls us to defy Scripture we should refuse and disobey, but it is our attitude that matters. I guess there are some cases where our government has commanded Christians to do things that go against their beliefs, but for most everyday American Christians they have not. The government has passed laws and allowed things that we disagree with, but has not told us that we MUST do things that defy Scripture and our conscience. So since we are not being asked to do that, maybe we should focus on submitting to the rule God has placed over us and even more importantly praying for those rulers. Only one person can win the presidential race on election day. For many Christians that won’t be the person they wanted. What will we do? Will we get angry and have an adult sized temper tantrum, or will we trust God and commit to pray for the person who won? I would like to believe prayer will be the response, but based off of what I see now, I anticipate the temper tantrums.

You see, it really is a trust issue or perhaps more specifically a faith issue. Faith and trust are the opposite of fear. Every time we panic over this election and rant, rave, and carry on; we are showing just how little faith we have. Let me clarify once again that there is a difference between ranting/ raving and expressing a belief or opinion. Is it really beneficial for you to attempt to bully others into your way of thinking. Many Christians are acting as if the world will end if their candidate does not win or as if God will cease to be sovereign if the election does not go the way they think it should. And what about the corruption we see? Remember Paul? We aren’t told to pray for our leaders and to respect those in authority over us UNLESS they are corrupt. We are afraid! We are afraid of what our country will look like in the coming years. Some of us are so afraid that we will say or do anything if we think we can influence that in some way. I wish we could say what David says in Psalm 56:11, “In God have I put my trust, I will not be afraid; What can man do unto me?” Sometimes we are quick to cite the controlling hand of God, but what about now? Does his hand extend to everything, except this election?  Most Christians would never say that, but our attitudes are speaking louder than our words.

Let me tell you what I see. I see a lot of people looking for a messiah; someone to save this nation. Well, I already have a messiah. I don’t need another one, and the only one who can really save this nation is Christ. I don’t know what will happen in this country, but I know what God has promised me and those promises are eternal. I also know that the United States is an anomaly. Many Christians around the world live in awe of the religious freedom we have in this nation. Do you really expect that freedom to last forever? Jesus said in John 16:33, “In the world ye shall have tribulation.” I am not asking to have my religious liberties taken away or to be persecuted, but we need to stop acting as though the world will end if these things happen. I would even argue that the freedom we have has weakened our faith and made us spiritually lazy. One person recently wrote on social media that she was being strengthened in her faith everyday that Trump will prevail in the election and America will be great again. Really???? Is that what the definition of faith in the U.S. has come to?  I would rather have my faith strengthened in God than in my government. Jesus went on to say in John 16:33, that we should “be of good cheer” because he had “overcome the world.” Would you rather trust in a sinful faulty man/woman or the one who has overcome the world? I hope you go and vote on election day and you make the best choice you possibly can, but have some faith that other believers are trying to do the same thing (even if they don’t agree with you). More importantly don’t vote from a place a fear or allow a lack of faith to ruin opportunities to be a witness of the one who has “overcome the world.” No matter what happens, when all is said and done God will be just as sovereign as he always has. He will still be standing, but will your testimony?

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