Who Should I Vote For?
In 2016, I didn’t talk about the election during election season. We had tackled a lot of controversial topics in the summer before and we were in the midst of a series called Margin where we were calling people to put margin in their lives timewise and moneywise. However, everyone else was thinking about the election. I got a text from a man about my age asking me if I was going to preach on the election. I flippantly responded with, “I’m not touching that.” To which he responded with something along the lines of I was a coward and we needed to be a church in mourning for electing someone so racist. I showed up to church Sunday and thought that his comment might be a one off and I keep my political party fairly close to the vest when it comes to church, in general, I didn’t want people thinking I’m sponsoring any party. I’m a pastor, not a politician after all. So the Sunday following Super Tuesday I went to church and an older man walked up to me and said, “Donald Trump is God’s anointed to save our country. God has blessed the USA.” My ‘pastor smile’ didn’t flinch and I think I said something to the effect of it was definitely God’s will that he was elected and then moved on. I didn’t mention the election in the sermon other than to say it happened.
Over the course of the following weeks and months several people (okay it was like 5) left the church and wrote their feelings about our church on social media. Some left because we weren’t supporting Trump. Others left because we weren’t regularly preaching against him. So at some point you have pondered the question, “Who should I vote for?” Is there someone that all Christians should be voting for?
All the people involved were born again Christians. They all loved God. But somehow their identity shifted to a Republican Christian or Democrat Christian. These were fairly well informed people. They were all educated people. They believed they had the moral high ground and that God would be on their side.
So whose side is God on? Wouldn’t that be the question to ask as we are looking at the election?
What the Bible has to say
This question is one that is answered in the Bible. An ancient text that is often studied, but I’m not sure how often it is applied to politics.
Take a look at Joshua 5. Joshua and the Israelites had just crossed into the promised land. They were preparing for battle. They had their side which they felt was where God would be. They despised their enemies as they stood in their way of their new homes. And then Joshua experiences a theophany. This is when God manifests himself as something. The burning bush was a theophany. In this case, He comes in the appearance of a man, so some people call it a Christophany.
At any rate, Joshua looks up and sees a man with a sword drawn ready for battle. Joshua boldly asks the man “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?”
This is a legitimate question. Here is a warrior with a sword drawn. It’s like two men working undercover with guns pointed at each other and Joshua yelling, “Show me your identification!”
The warrior responds calmly, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the Lord. Now I have come.”
Now he could have said, “Yes, I am. I was on your team in Eqypt and I’m on your team now. I am for you.”
But he didn’t. I have thought about this a lot. Was the Lord just being intentionally obtuse? I don’t think so. It reminds me a bit of whenever my son says, “You’re just like me, Dad.” And I’m like “No, you are just like me.” The other way around doesn’t make any sense. And that is what is happening here. God is not on Joshua’s team. God is on God’s team. It is Joshua’s role to get on board with God. And we see this immediately as the Christophany tells Joshua to take off his sandals, because he is on holy ground. And Joshua obeyed.
BUT, who should I vote for ?
I think this is the problem that we struggle with when it comes to choosing who we should vote for. We get confused when people don’t align with us. Our defenses go up because we don’t trust people who don’t think like we do and don’t act like we do. We get suspicious that their motives are dark and we fear what might happen if their ideas go wild and we would be suppressed by those seeking to take advantage of our vulnerabilities.
What is interesting about the story about Joshua is that he is nearby the city of Jericho. Every male had just circumcised themselves. They were completely vulnerable. If you are a military strategist, the last thing you would do is cross a river with a miracle and draw a lot of attention to yourselves and then have everyone circumcised. We are talking about debilitating the entire force. And in their own history, the Hebrew people’s ancestors murdered an entire town of men because one of the town’s people raped their sister and wanted to marry her. They schemed and said they would only give their sister in marriage if they all agreed to get circumcised. They did. And that made them easy prey for brothers set on revenge.
So this was a bizarre strategy of getting close to the city you were going to attack, having no battering rams, no moving towers or catapults. They had slings, arrows, swords and spears--which is like taking a knife to a gunfight or better yet, a building fight. The walls of Jericho definitely had the advantage. But Joshua and the Israelites obeyed. They made themselves vulnerable to the enemy. If the enemy had any sort of scouts they would have seen the men moaning in pain and the conversation of circumcision would have clued them into the fact the entire nation was defenseless.
So clearly we need to be on God’s team. He is our defense. Got it. But that still doesn’t tell me who to vote for. Isn’t what this post was all about to begin with?
I said in my last post that it was important to be involved in politics as we become influencers for the kingdom of God. We need to be involved or else we leave the wisdom of God out of civic life. So take your time and pray through your vote. There are a lot of resources that can help guide you on policies and ways to make Bible based decisions.
God calls us to look out for the welfare of our city. And in a democracy you look out for your welfare by putting people in power who operate in a way that puts God’s common grace to work. What’s common Grace? It’s the work of God by believers and non-believers alike that bring order to chaos. It’s driving with roads that have stripes on it. It's a highway system that allows you to get across the city or state and trade goods and services. It blesses the sinner and the saint alike. It’s common. The opposite of common Grace is special grace or saving grace. That grace is bestowed upon those who believe in Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. Common Grace isn’t just about avoiding traffic jams it’s creating a pathway for life to flourish. God designed life and understands how cultures and societies best work.
When I say that it usually makes people nervous. Most think I’m promoting a theocracy. Far from it. Jesus is king. But we await for his return and seek His kingdom to come, His will be done on Earth as it is in heaven. We can not convert hearts (special Grace), but we can bring order to chaos (common Grace).
So what are some things that God desires for man?
Primary among them is justice: economic, judicial, and social. The problem with this is that this depends somewhat on worldview. Some think about a certain system as good or evil based on the party to which they belong. Is capitalism the most just? Is socialism the most just? Some feel a flat tax favors the rich, and hurts the poor, while some feel a progressive tax punishes success. I think those are all issues one can argue biblically. Some systems rely upon the good nature of humanity so that leaders and rulers make decisions based on the good of the whole rather than taking into account the natural greed and corruption of humanity. But Christians can believe in a variety or even combination of economic and political systems. This system is perhaps preference and how much freedom one feels the general public should have in their individual behavior.
Republicans tend to favor freedom of economics with a laissez-faire( let it be) mentality where the market forces drive wages, earnings, success and failure of companies. In this model companies exist to make profit.
Democrats tend to favor a more regulated and controlled system. This at times favors those who can pay for the regulations, and workers rights are at the forefront. In other words, companies exist to provide jobs.
Government leadership enforces the law. This allows for the chaos to be put in order and for the country to experience God’s common grace. Romans 13 is clear that the government does not bear the sword in vain, but punish the wrongdoer and rewards the righteous. A leader seeking God’s common Grace puts aside popularity to seek justice and order for the population.
The value of life is one that Christians should hold dear. If a candidate favors his own race over another or enacts policies that marginalize people, that makes it difficult for a Christian who is taking part in seeing “His kingdom come” to support one who actively marginalizes people. The way you treat the least says a lot about how the country will experience the common grace of God. The marginalized mean the poor, the orphan, the immigrant, and the unborn. Policies that actively seek to further marginalize or murder these unprotected people are not for the common good and therefore not a part of the common grace of God.
Now as you seek to make your vote here are some links that discuss what candidates believe and how they seek the best for our country. Remember no candidate will be able to be all things to all Christians. Prayerfully choose what God would emplace so that all could experience the common grace of God.