Things NOT to do this political season, or any season:
- Don’t be surprised…that we basically have two less-than-stellar candidates for president (basing this off of their historically high disapproval ratings). It’s easy sometimes to project onto others - especially non-believers - the expectations of a Spirit-filled life, and to relatedly have a degree of worldly optimism that banks more on people being “essentially good in heart and motive” versus being, as Jesus says, evil to the core.
- Don’t fear. It has been said by someone before, “It isn’t befitting for the people of God to fear.” We are people of the empty tomb. Perfect love has driven out our fear (1 John 4:18). Our Savior himself has said to us, multiple times in the Bible, “Do not fear.” Obey that.
- Don’t berate…other believers for their opinions, nor the candidates themselves. Berating is basically the same thing as arguing strongly for another candidate of a differing viewpoint, and in that, caring too much. And it’s unloving. It’s a type of misplaced anger that confuses the world watching us. What exactly is the essence of Christian hope again? What should we be doing with our time? What does it mean to be saved? Political angst gives no good answers to these questions.
- Don’t put your hope in people. Our hope is not in a healthy, temporal country. But our hope is in the next country, a “better country” (Hebrews 11:16). If we believe in God’s sovereignty, then whoever becomes our next president is exactly who God wants to be our next president. He has ordained pagan kings for certain things in the past. He can do it again, while remaining completely in control and good at the same time. Let me say it again: Whatever happens in November is exactly what our good God intends to happen. Rest in that. And put your hope in him, and his plan for your life and for our country and world. And his plan is that more people come to know him - to believe in him for the forgiveness of their sins. And he will do this, through the Church, no matter the state of our government.
- Don’t care that much. Be informed. Read up on the issues. Pray for our country and our leaders as the Scriptures instruct. Then vote - or don’t vote - to the glory of God. You are free in the gospel to do either. But then, don’t care that much. This doesn’t excuse apathy, but it does encourage us to focus on where our true passions and citizenship lie: with Christ, in heaven, with the hope of a new earth some day soon. Romans 14:17 says, “The Kingdom of God is not a matter of food and drink, but of righteousness, joy, and peace in the Holy Spirit.” The Apostle Paul writes this to a church that was making food too central of an issue in the Christian life. He wasn’t saying, “Don’t have any thoughts about food in the Christian life.” Nor was he saying, “Don’t eat that much.” Or, “Eat a lot!” But rather, “Don’t judge people either way; make it all about Jesus.” It’s the same with politics. Jesus’ kingdom subverts worldly kingdoms. It doesn’t Christianize them or offer us hope though them. So the amount of care we put into politics (which can freely vary from Christian to Christian) should be greatly reduced in favor of our care for Jesus and for the mission of the Church.
CHRIS WACHTER / LEAD PASTOR