Salvation is not found on a ballot

Tomorrow we have the privilege of electing our government here in America. On Wednesday morning about half of the nation will be disappointed and half will be delighted, such is the state of our politics. And some, at both ends of the spectrum, will be outraged by the prospect of being governed by ‘that man’ being defined as the one for whom they did not vote!  Oh yes, elections do have consequences. Policies that have real effect for our lives will come from the councils, Congress, and Executives we elect. That means we should vote thoughtfully, and as Christians, prayerfully.

HOWEVER …  my dear Christian friend, let’s be reminded again that politics are no substitute for the Gospel of Christ. Legislation can never replace the work of the Holy Spirit in the salvation of the world. A leading pastor wrote that “the most important lesson we should learn is that the church must stand against the way politics has become a religion, and religion has become politics.”  Christians are not first Republican or Democrat!  We are foremost of Christ and in Christ.

It is to our shame that we let our convictions about COVID-19, health care, immigration, or gender issues divide us from those who are our brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus. It has been said in my presence more than once, “He could not possibly be a Christian. Look at who he supports.”  Come now, friend. Is that really true?  Does support for the temporal agenda of some political party actually disqualify a person from knowing and loving Jesus Christ? Since when did how a person views climate change or abortion rights become the litmus test for being ‘in Christ?’  

Yes, it is my conviction that the sacredness of human life and issues of justice flow out of knowing the eternal principles of God’s Word.  But, I also know that neither party is ‘pure’ in the way they reflect my convictions about the Truth. That is why I recognize that my salvation and that of the society in which I live will NEVER come from our legislators or our courts.  When we elevate the political process and misplace our hope in the power of legislation to save and transform the world we have given ourselves to a false god. We give ourselves to an empty hope!  

It is an equal mistake to conclude that Christians should remain outside the political process, having no interest in public policy. Christians, just like everyone else, have ideals that we would like to see reflected in our laws and policies. In our system, we have the privilege of voting our convictions.

But, our highest and most holy calling is not to write better laws but rather to bring salvation to the nations through the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ! Why? Because the Gospel does what no law can ever do. It changes a sinner into a person who knows God and good. The law can only attempt to control behavior with the threat of punishment.  Christ’s love will change behavior by changing the heart and the mind.  We seriously hurt our ability to share the Gospel of Christ if we wrap our politics around Him, implying that one must be _______________ in persuasion in order to be a true Christian.  

Russell Moore reminds Christians that it their calling to “maintain a prophetic clarity that is willing to call to repentance everything that is unjust and anti-Christ, whether that is the abortion culture, the divorce culture, or the racism/nativism culture. We can be the people who tell the truth, whether it helps or hurts our so-called ‘allies’ or our so-called ‘enemies.’” 

A prophet is not a wild-eyed fanatic on the fringe of society. The true prophet is one who comes from their place of prayer and speaks on God’s behalf out of an  intimate relationship with Him.

I will pointedly ask – when you make those ripping statements on Facebook, when you hurl hateful comments at the ‘other’ side, when you seethe with rage about some defeat of legislation or exult with something akin to religious ecstasy over the election of a President – is that the result of time before the Throne of Heaven and a profound experience of the Holy, or is it an expression of the preferences of Self?  

In the coming week, let us not become like Esau who sold his birthright for a bowl of soup! He gave away his spiritual birthright just to fill his belly.  Will Christians surrender the high ground of loving God and knowing Christ Jesus for some temporal advantage? We must not.

Whatever your political registration, may you always remember the higher calling, your true identity as a follower of Jesus. Peter tells us that in Christ “You are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.  “Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy.” Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls.”  (1 Peter 2:9-11)

Go vote!
Pray for these United States to be a home for all people.
Speak wisely, thoughtfully, graciously as you advocate for your politics, never forgetting who you truly are.

_____________

Father, I come to You today asking
that Your kingdom will come and Your will be done –
in my life – so that it may be done in my world.

Temper the passion of my convictions with a new experience of Your holy love.

Grant me wisdom in casting my vote, as these are troubled and confusing times.
As Francis prayed, “Make me an instrument of Your peace!
In Jesus’ Name.  Amen

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