As a Pastor, I really do try hard not to publicly endorse any specific candidates, nor publicly denounce any specific candidates for political office. No church I have ever been a part of has ever held a political rally in its sanctuary, nor invited a candidate to climb into the pulpit. I find American Christians typically fall into one of two camps regarding these matters:
- Avoid anything remotely political at all costs, or . . .
- Go politically hog-wild to the point of near-idolatry.
I witnessed the first attitude last month at a conference sponsored by the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. After a tremendous sermon by Dr. Russell Moore (President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the SBC), we got to witness personal interviews with two presidential candidates – Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush. Hillary Clinton was invited but turned the opportunity down. Mr. Rubio was streamed in via internet, while Mr. Bush was there in person to answer questions from Dr. Moore. My wife later over-heard a middle-aged woman on the phone complaining that the conference got “too political” so she walked out on it. The sad part of it all is that the lady obviously had missed the whole point of Dr. Moore’s sermon. He was showing us from the Bible that we can never place our hope and trust in any government, but at the same time we should engage in the process to do all we can to ensure leaders of character are elected. We must use these freedoms while we have them, dear Christians! We can dialogue and protest peacefully and write letters and post blogs and call elected officials and publicly debate and the list goes on. Christians can and should be involved in the political process to do our best to ensure we can live at peace and continue to freely proclaim the gospel of Christ (1 Tim 2:1-4).
I witness the second attitude almost daily. I see friends and family and Christians pouring far greater time and energy into getting someone elected or debating every issue on the political agenda than they do sharing the good news of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ. It’s sad. It makes me wonder where their faith really is? Do we Christians really think the ultimate answer to our nation’s woes is in an elected official? A President? A Congressman or woman? A party platform? Do we think America is ultimate? If believers spent as much time, money and energy spreading the gospel as they do stumping for parties and candidates, not to mention bickering over temporal matters, the empty church buildings all over this land might fill up once again! We must return to seeking God’s kingdom and righteousness first, foremost, and always. Our loyalty is only to One Eternal King ruling over One Eternal Kingdom. As Dr. Moore said so well in the sermon mentioned previously, “We Christians are Americans best when we are not Americans first.” Amen. Far too many believers seem more devoted to the US Constitution than they are to the Bible.
God help us find the balance.
Now, with all that said, I want to urge any readers who are followers of Jesus to stop and seriously ponder who they are stumping for in the Presidential election and why. I am growing very concerned at the number of professing Christians who are stumping for a candidate who may very well know economics, but has also said it has never even occurred to him to ask forgiveness from God! His friends say he never says, “I’m sorry.” His rhetoric is mean-spirited and obnoxious. Rather than “Walk softly and carry a big stick” he prefers to “Stomp around and insult everyone.” Christians, read your Bibles. Character matters most in leaders. And in the Bible, a nation’s collapse is nearly always associated with prideful, haughty, stubborn leadership. Economy follows character.
So rather than vote your pocketbooks, which belong to God anyway dear brothers and sisters, ask yourselves which candidate(s) displays true, Christ-like character. In which candidate(s) do you see fruits of the Holy Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control? Which candidate is likely to show aptitude for promoting the good and discouraging the evil, in accordance with God’s design (Rom 13:1-7)? What standard is the candidate(s) using to define good and evil?
Yes, I know a President is not a Pastor, nor is a President leading a church or The Church. But when it comes to leadership, wherever it is found, character matters most. I dare say our American economy and culture is collapsing and will continue to do so not because of economic policies in and of themselves, but because of corrupt character. The policies, after all, were enacted out of principles, whether good or evil. And principles are derived from human hearts and minds.
Vote character. For God’s glory and the good of our nation.
“The Most High is Ruler over the realm of mankind, and He bestows it on whom He wishes . . . I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever; for His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom endures from generation to generation” (Daniel 4:17, 34).