Today is Election Day in America. By the time most of us lay our heads down on our pillows tonight, it will likely be clear who will serve as our nation’s next President. Though I suspect you already know.
American Christians pour a great deal of energy into the political process. We watch cable news ad nauseam; attend political rallies; write blogs and host forums where we tell one another how to and how not to vote. Then we debate about the merits of candidates on social media – and pass on the dirt we’ve discovered (which may or may not be factual) on the candidates we most despise. We publicly lament the state of our nation and criticize Christians who see different solutions to our problems than we do. We write and read long articles outlining the merits of voting for morally bankrupt candidates who clearly do not share our values, as well as the moral deficiencies of voting for non-viable candidates who are more in line with those values.
The simple fact is that Christians (generally speaking) are very passionate about politics. This is not necessarily a bad thing and the point of this post is certainly not to critique my brothers and sisters excited by and invested in the political process. Rather, my desire in this post is simply to remind you that there are pursuits far more important and far more deserving of our energy and passion than politics.
First, cultivate an intimate relationship with Jesus.
Nothing in this world comes anywhere as close in importance. All things are utterly worthless compared to knowing Christ (Philippians 3:8). Yet we are so often like Martha in Luke 10, consumed with getting things done, worried about seemingly necessary tasks, and deceived into believing that sitting at Jesus’ feet is time wasted. I wonder, Christian, throughout the recent political season, have you poured as much time and energy into your walk with Christ as you have into gaining and spreading information regarding this year’s Presidential race? If you have had time to watch Fox News and CNN in recent weeks, but little time to get your face and heart in your Bible, I humbly suggest that you ought to reevaluate your priorities.
Second, live holy lives for the glory of God.
Yes, we all despise crooked politicians, and rightly so. We are right to lament the corruption in our government and to mourn the state of our culture, even longing for a day when high-level injustices will be brought to an end and a righteous King rules on the earth.
However, are we as passionate about putting our own sin to death as we are about exposing corruption in our political leaders? Are we as bothered about the sin that still indwells us as we are about the sins of our main Presidential candidates? If we take Jesus at his word, we have to understand that you can win all the political victories in the world and lose your soul in the end. It will does no good to eradicate corruption in the government if we are not committed to mortifying our own sinful pursuits.
Third, love people in our local churches.
There are few things as precious in the sight of God as the church he saved by the blood of his Son. How are you doing at loving Christ’s church, Christian? The political culture is certainly filled with more entertainment and fireworks than the local church. But as John Piper recently said, “One day America and all its presidents will be a footnote in history, [while] God’s kingdom will never end.”
The state of your local church is more important and far more relevant to the health of your soul (and the souls of those around you) than the political climate of our nation. A Christian will do far more good for his country by loving people in his local church than he will ever do in a voting booth. If we want to do good for our country, there’s no better place to start than by loving people well, particularly in our local churches.
Fourth, promote the name of Christ by sharing the Gospel.
I often marvel at how willing some Christians seem to speak up (and even offend others) about a specific political candidate, while many of us seem to have so little to say about Jesus. We want so badly for people to embrace our political views and yet feel very little anguish about the fact that many of our friends remain lost and without God in the world.
I can’t help but wonder what may happen in our nation if American Christians were as passionate about presenting the gospel in clear, biblical, articulate, and winsome ways as they were about rocking the vote and electing sinners into office. How encouraging it would be to see the church far more concerned with the spread of the gospel, than it is with winning elections.
Fifth, pray for our government leaders.
Lest we forget, the call to pray for government leaders is right up there at the top of God’s list of priorities for his church (1 Timothy 2:1-5). What a privilege it is for believers to intercede for our political leaders. Ask God to save them by his grace and give them wisdom to govern well. It is one of the best things we can do for them, and one of the clearest ways we can express our ultimate allegiance to the God who rules over them.
Daydream with me for a few minutes, will you? How might the state of our nation (and our churches) be affected if Christians poured the kind of energy they pour into politics into the pursuits listed here instead? It’s worth considering.
But these are the kinds of things that God prioritizes for his people in his Word. These are the kinds of things that God says are of utmost importance for his people and are some of the things that are far more important that politics. We would do well to focus on them as such.