We’re constantly choosing between less than ideal choices – that delectable expensive organic apple or the cheaper likely genetically grown apple-like option | the local less expensive community college or the more expensive choice further from home |the multi-billionaire who says what he wants or the seasoned stateswoman who deletes what she doesn’t want to be shared | the one who has a history in entertainment and real estate or the one who was in favor of a bill that had a disproportionate negative impact on the sentencing of black and Latino men| the one who has been married multiple times or the one who chose to remain married in the face of national scandal and deep personal disappointment.
There is no perfect choice apart from Christ. So then how do we elect the best next president?
Here are tips to help govern how you choose:
1. Pray for both candidates – Pray for their hearts, their families and pray that God’s best be accomplished in their lives. In the midst of campaign frenzy, we lose sight of the truth that both candidates are made in God’s image and their salvation matters to God more than whether they will become the next president. Does their salvation and ongoing sanctification matter to you?
2. Recognize all sin matters to God – Lying, pride, abortion, same-sex marriage, adultery, and the mistreatment of women, people of color, and immigrants oppose the character and nature of God. Some of my sin is listed there. Maybe yours is too. God knows that we have all fallen short and since Jesus isn’t on this year’s ballot we need God’s wisdom to select a candidate we think best represents God’s values. Thankfully God provides such wisdom. Generously. Do your research. Knock, seek and expect to find that wisdom. The site www.isidewith.com allows you to input your preferences on a range of political issues and matches you to a candidate who may best represent those preferences.
3. Thank God for the gift of voting – Unlike many nations around the world, most American adults are eligible to vote. Our democracy is far from ideal, but voting allows us to voice our position. The French diplomat of the nineteenth century, Alexander de Tocqueville, remarked, “Liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith.” Therefore voting is an exercise in faith – and we know that faith (believing in God and His complete goodness) is evidenced by what we do. So, do vote. Check out www.commit2vote.com - the site provides resources to make sure you are election-ready.
4. Fear God and honor the King – Our allegiance is to our God independent of who is elected. Period. In ascribing to God the truth of His omnipotence we make the choice to show proper honor to people in authority. We may have good reason to dishonor others in what we say, text, post, like and share about their antics. But God calls us to higher ground – to honor even in the face of dishonor. He also calls us to love our brothers and sisters, regardless of where we stand vis-à-vis one another on the political spectrum. Our identity as believers should trump (pun intended) all other affiliations. “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). There isn’t liberal nor conservative, moderate nor independent, republican or democrat. For we are one.
5. Remember God is in control – “He controls the course of world events; he removes kings and sets up other kings” (Daniel 2:21a). God allows people to take governance, in part, as an expression of the heart of the people and culture from which he/she emerges. However, whether the leader honors God or not in that position of authority should not dictate whether or not you and I choose to honor God. I’m with Joshua – as for me and my house we will serve God (Joshua 24:15). Ultimately there is solace in knowing God can use anyone to accomplish His purposes.
When I reflect on how to choose wisely, I am reminded of Jotham’s parable of the trees asking for a king found in Judges 9:7 – 15. Their first choice, the olive tree, and two other options declined the offer; yet the thorn bush, their last choice, was willing to do the job - but not without an ultimatum. His response reflects that the acceptance of the role and the trees’ submission to their last-chosen king would require sacrifice and wisdom from both parties. “If you really want to anoint me king over you, come and take refuge in my shade, but if not, then let fire come out of the thorn bush and consume the cedars of Lebanon” (Judges 9:15). Therefore pray for a leader who has America’s best interests at heart.
And keep praying even after the election. Pray for whom our president will appoint – to positions within the cabinet and other positions of influence including the likely appointment of multiple Supreme Court Justices. Pray for our president’s encouragement and that God’s power to transform and renew would be evidenced in his/her life and the life of our country.
God’s power will remain active and all-powerful even over the next four to eight years.
I pray that as we head to the ballot we do so seeking first the kingdom and God’s righteousness and expect God to do exceedingly abundantly above all we can even ask or imagine by His mighty power working in and through you and me.
Finally, May God bless America
Amelia E. Thompson loves to see God create possibility out of what appears to be impossible. She became a Christian during her sophomore year in college. She and friends developed We Write Life into a platform for building community around issues of justice, reconciliation and forgiveness. Thanks to God’s guidance and kindness, she completed studies at Vassar College and St. John’s University and is completing a certificate in Youth and Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary.