Tomorrow is Super Tuesday and ten states will be holding primaries and two will be having cacuses. This election season seems to have been filled with harsh rhetoric and personal attacks not only by the politicians but their supporters as well. I have witnessed Facebook rants and angry responses, chain emails with passionate retorts, and old fashioned arguing around the coffee pot. It seems like we can’t go a day without someone saying something brash and potentially offensive.
Unfortunately, Christians and the church are not immune from this toxic environment. Sadly each of the situtations I described above have happened either at churches or between people who are members of churches. It appears that politics has divided the Body of Christ. Sadly, many times an exasperated person exclaims “You can’t be a Christan and vote for…” and you can fill in the blank. People on both sides of the issues and the aisle cannot believe that others who profess the same faith can support a different candidate. In fact, political consultants help candidates shore up different sectors of the religious vote and therefore “evangelical” seems to be as much of a political term as it is a theological one.
I believe that voting and being involved in helping shape the direction of our country is important. I hope that each and every person reading this blog has voted (voted early like me). I enjoy discussing the political process and the underlying theories that shape much or our political worldviews. I also believe that as Christians our values and believes should influence how we vote. However, I believe that our baptism in Christ unites us all a deeper level than our political allegiances. Paul in Galatians 3:27-28 boldly proclaimed to a deeply divide group of people that in Christ our divisions are erased and we are made into one. In Christ we discover that every other thing that would seek to divide us into a fractured union are superceded by the uniting power of Christ and our baptism.
This means that we cannot claim that our position is the only position that a true Christian can hold. We cannot use political allegiance or voting records as the litmus test for true and orthodox faith. We must recognize that devote Christians will at times view issues differently and believe that different candidates might be the best person for elected office. John Wesley once gave advice on how he believed his followers should approach voting: that they should vote their conscience, not speak evil against the person they voted against, and to not allow their “spirits sharpened” against other Christians who voted differently. It seems that this advice is timely for us today. How could the political arena be changed if Christians voted and behaved in this manner? If we did not fall into the game of charged rhetoric and divisive attacks then would we might be able to shift the conversation to real issues around substantial subjects.
In doing so we would acknowledge that neither party is the full representation of Christian values and principles and the only place we will find that is the Kingdom of God. This Kingdom is larger than politicians, parties, and countries. It is expanding around the world and it has had the same king for millenia. Christ is ruling in an ever expanding Kingdom that will eventually be fully realized on earth. At that time the Lord’s Prayer will be completed as God’s “will is done on earth as it is in heaven”. Until that time we all must use our best judgement as we prayerfully consider how we vote in this and future elections taking comfort in the fact that no matter who wins God’s plans are not thwarted and his rule is not impeded.