This election season, Christians made mistakes.
I don’t mean white/black/conservative/libertarian/liberal/unaffiliated Christians. All of us. Every one.
Here are some things we need to do differently:
1. Let’s not demonize anyone. No candidate or group of people should be called “evil” by a Christian, unless it’s prefaced by a “we’re”. Because you, Christian, know the evil of your heart better than anyone. When we see evil, we only see our Christless selves.
2. Let’s acknowledge ambiguity. Paul and Barnabas differed over whether to bring Mark along on their missionary journey. I’ve often wondered this election season whether Paul and Barnabas might have had different opinions on the election. The Bible is clear, but that doesn’t make everything else clear. Let’s not naively pretend it does.
3. Let’s consider “not only our interests, but also the interests of others.” This has been the greatest discouragement to me during this election season – Christians who selfishly snap up an opportunity at the polls for themselves which explicitly neglects/minimizes/deepens the suffering and injustice of others (on both sides).
4. Let’s not christen anyone. No politician is Jesus, so no politician is the “Christian” choice. Voting is a matter of wisdom – deciding how we will best bless our city “for in its welfare is our welfare” (Jeremiah 29). We should never confuse matters of wisdom with the good news of the gospel. That means we should never, ever invoke the Lord’s name, or the Holy Spirit’s name (“God wants to bring revival and blessing to our nation through ______”) in vain for the sake of a politician.
5. Elders, let’s not publicly endorse any candidate. Elders in the church are held to a higher standard of judgment. We are responsible not only for what we say, but for how it is interpreted. When we publicly endorse a candidate with our bumper stickers, hats, and lawns, we are communicating to our lost neighbors our embodiment of all the evil traits that candidate represents to them.
6. Let’s never join the world in “calling evil good.” We shouldn’t call lying and deceit smart politics. We shouldn’t call braggadocios sexual exploitation ‘locker room talk’. We shouldn’t call murder “choice”. And we shouldn’t call outlandish greed “smart business”.
7. Let’s never speak of anyone as more likely to be saved than another. I was consistently baffled by statements like: “Well, at least God might save ______”. Well, God might save anyone, unless you’re a legalist, in which case God will only save those who agree with you.
8. Let’s never use God’s sovereignty as a justification for evil. “God used lots of evil leaders to bring about His purposes, so let’s vote for ________.” Notice you can fill in ANYTHING there: “Well, God can use evil for good, therefore let’s ________.”
9. Let’s never cheapen conversion by calling our nominally Christian candidates “Christians”. That goes for both sides, and it is perilous to our mission.
10. Let’s not waste our breath on bureaucracy. God has given us an institution to fight evil, and it’s called the church. As Tolkien and Lewis so wisely note, bureaucracy itself is an evil, because it separates power from real situations. Sure, invest a few hours in research, and go to the polls. But be wary – there’s more eternal dross than gold in our political efforts.