John 17:14-16 “I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.”
I have already posted about how Christians just don’t seem to fit into the climate of this current political election [see my post on October 3rd].
However, anyone who really knows me will tell you I am not prone to just throw up my hands, dig a big hole and crawl in it. At times, during this election year, I have been tempted to do just that, but what good would that do?
The short answer; it won’t do any good at all.
So what are Christians to do? We have to find some way to survive this toxic political climate. In fact, we should vote. We are citizens after all and to have a vote is a privilege, even though we may not be happy with the choices.
I could recommend that you read the newspapers, go to the internet and flip between MSNBC, CNN and FOX but what good will that really do? Each source has its bias and instead of reporting facts in this election, most news sources merely report their own opinions.
What is a Christian to do?
First of all, if you are a Bible reader, now is a good time to turn to God’s word. Let the words of Jesus inspire you to lead the best life you can lead and ask yourself if you can discern any love coming from the political candidates in this race. The New Testament contains reflections of the early Christians on what they did to follow Jesus. They took the ideas of Jesus and tried to apply them in the most difficult times, times when they were persecuted for following their Lord and Savior.
We complain about the election being a difficult time but this time pales in comparison to the struggles of the early Christians. The Bible is full of guidelines to help us understand what to do. Follow those instead of some biased political pundit.
Secondly, what can we learn from the tradition of the church? Ethics has been at the forefront of concern for the Church for the past two thousand years. It is hard to cut through all the information that is thrown at us on a daily basis but if a candidate’s behavior violates our Christian sense of right and wrong, we should be justified in ruling out that candidate. Think about our standard regarding lying. Think about God’s admonition about humility as expressed in James 4:6 “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Think about God’s standard regarding money that we see in 1 Timothy 6:10 “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs”. For years, leaders of the church have spoken about ideal behavior that should stem from following a Christian life.
Thirdly, we might get wise counsel from our church community. It is a fact that sometimes a church member will have a political agenda and they will carry that into church and express it. I have been in Sunday school when inappropriate things were said for or against a political candidate. I have been in a church men’s group when a man told a very racist joke about President Obama before the last election.
I have strong feelings about this.
It should not happen.
It is hard to stop politics at the church door but we should make the effort. Biased opinions for or against political candidates are not what I want to hear when I ask my fellow church members how they feel about lying, pride and the love of money. I want to hear how others feel; I can evaluate their opinions, I can apply their ideas. I don’t have to hear another person’s political bias.
In short, I have to make up my own mind. I seek guidance, not someone to direct my choice in the voting booth.
Sadly, the choice for President is not easy for most of us.
“To see the world in black and white is to live within the contours of extremism. This outlook neatly divides the world into right versus wrong, good versus evil, and yes versus no. This thinking is dependent upon such words as always and never. Especially in times of crisis, the black and white worldview is looked upon as strength and courage to the casual observer….[However] our political leadership has been at its best when those leaders have dared to enter the world of gray….It requires far less courage to live in a black and white world than it does to live in the gray. The world of gray requires that we show up and be present. It does not afford us the luxury of putting life on automatic pilot.” Byron Williams*
This election calls for us to be more than casual observers. We need to participate. We need to inform ourselves of the issues and as Christians, we need take the Word of God, the ethical standards of our faith and the guidance from wise members of our church community and figure those into our decision.
You know, that tough decision that must be made on November 8.
*Rev. Byron Williams is one of the leading public theologians in the nation. He is a columnist, author, and the former pastor of the Resurrection Community Church in Berkeley, CA.