HONOLULU, September 30, 2012 – With the televised debates just around the corner and only 37 days left to the election, people all across America are beginning to solidify their positions on candidates. It’s not uncommon for some faith organizations and churches to place a spiritual spin on elections, but if you’re a Christian, never let a guilt trip guide your actions at the ballot booth. Here’s a no-nonsense, non-partisan faith perspective on Election 2012.
MYTH #1: “God cannot bless America unless we vote for …”
First things first, remember to be extremely cautious whenever someone comes to you saying “God told me to tell you that you need to vote for so-and-so.” While I believe that God indeed speaks to those who are willing to listen, it’s important to remember that overzealous and misguided people often attach God to anything they please so as to justify a personal agenda. In the Bible’s book of Jeremiah 23:35-36 the Scripture says:
“This is what each of you keeps on saying to his friend or relative: ‘What is the Lord’s answer?’ or ‘What has the Lord spoken?’ But you must not mention ‘the oracle of the Lord’ again, because every man’s own word becomes his oracle and so you distort the words of the living God, the Lord Almighty, our God.”
In truth, the Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 9:15 that God says “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion” – or said another way, God’s blessing and the target of that blessing is His sovereign choice – and Paul continues in verse 16 by concluding “It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.” Political candidates can’t save America – but Jesus will save you.
The proliferation of the two-party political system into the American conscience has perverted the Christian faith with statements like “God is a Republican” or “Jesus is a Democrat.” Those are earthly, temporal words with absolutely no meaning in God’s grand scheme of eternal authority and rule. So if you’re going to participate in an election, don’t feel that the fate of the universe depends on who you vote for.
Rather than letting others tell you who to vote for, a more reasonable (and Biblical) approach to an election is simply to consider the words of James 1:5-8 which says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.”
If you don’t know who to vote for, you can always ask God through prayer for wisdom in making your vote. It takes humility to ask God for His thoughts on something because the natural tendency of man is to be so full of his own ideas and agendas that he places his personal opinion over God’s opinion. But if you have the faith and humility to ask for God’s opinion, know for certain you will learn God’s true opinion.
MYTH #2: “No Christian should ever …”
You’ve probably heard at least one of your friends already say something like “I don’t see how a Christian can vote for a Democrat” or “I don’t see how a Christian can vote for a Republican.” The reality is God uses all of us irrespective of who we are or what we personally affiliate with.
In 1 Samuel 16, the Bible speaks of the prophet Samuel – a man who was earlier described as his word “never falling to the ground” (that is, always being on-target in his prophetic declarations) being sent to Jesse of Bethlehem to anoint one of his sons to be king over Israel. Samuel saw Eliab and based on the way he looked, how tall he was and how kingly his appearance was that the Bible says Samuel thought “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord” (v.6).
God did not however endorse Eliab and told Samuel “Do not consider his appearance or his height for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (v.7). Samuel cycled through seven of Jesse’s sons and seven times could not properly identify God’s sovereign choice until, finally, through process of elimination, realized that God had someone else – David – in mind. The fact that a prophet so esteemed as Samuel couldn’t pick out God’s choice on the first pass tells us that all men are only human and subject to making mistakes of judgment.
In the Bible’s book of 2 Chronicles 35, the Egyptian Pharaoh Neco deployed his army to Carchemish on the Euphrates and Josiah, King of Judah automatically assumed it was God’s will for Judah to intercept him. Neco responded, “What quarrel is there between you and me, O king of Judah? It is not you I am attacking at this time but the house with which I am at war. God has told me to hurry; so stop opposing God, who is with me, or he will destroy you” (v.21). The Bible says “Josiah, however, would not turn away from him, but disguised himself to engage him in battle. He would not listen to what Neco had said at God’s command but went to fight him on the plain of Megiddo” (v.22).
Josiah made the mistake of assuming that by default, God was not with the Egyptians – the traditional enemy of Israel/Judah – when in fact, He was. The critical lesson to be learned here is never judge someone purely by outward appearances or even their prior personal history. God will use whatever God wants to use. Don’t place spiritual pressure on someone by assuming you know everything there is to know about a certain candidate or a certain party. It’s better to simply pray rather than judge and make a monumental error.
God uses both individuals and nations alike for His plan and what God does is … well, what God does. Never allow personal prejudices and stereotypes to cloud the truth that God is God and does whatever He wants with whoever He wants.
MYTH #3: “So-and-so is the Antichrist.”
Many Christians have the tendency to automatically assume any demagogic and opportunistic politician is the Man of Sin himself. But you can be almost certainly sure that no one running on America’s 2012 ballot this year is the Antichrist. How do we know? For starters, absolutely none of the candidates running for office are talented enough persuasive speakers to be the Antichrist. (That’s a joke, by the way.) But more importantly, at least for now, the Bible tells us in 2 Thessalonians 2:6 that the Holy Spirit is restraining the manifestation of the Antichrist “so that he may be revealed at the proper time.”
There isn’t enough space to go into all of the telltale characteristics of what the Antichrist will be, but suffice to say it’s a massive distortion of reality if someone tells you with certainty they believe that one of the candidates running for office is the Antichrist himself.
At the end of the day, remember this fellow Christian believers – who you vote for like so many other things in this world is a decision that is between you and God. Don’t let anyone pressure you into doing something that should be an act guided by faith and your internal witness of what God has put upon your heart. If your faith allows you to vote for one candidate over another, so be it.
Don’t be quick to judge one Christian’s vote over another – God has called all of us to live in peace.
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