Do me a favor.
Stop whatever it is you’re doing and take a few moments to think back to the very first promise someone made to you.
What thoughts immediately come to your mind? Who made the promise? Was it fulfilled as promised or is it yet to be realized? If the latter, how does it make you feel today? Disappointed? Unimportant? Perhaps even unloved?
Now, think ahead to November 8, 2016.
What thoughts come to your mind now? What expectations do you have of the person for whom you’re planning to cast your vote for president (assuming you are planning to vote)? Are you more hopeful in their promises than in the ones made to you at other times in your life? Why or why not?
“Everyone has commitments to a certain way of seeing life. Some people call this a worldview. Whatever the label, it is a vision about life, what it is, and how it works. This vision of life may be wise or foolish. People may or may not be self-conscious about their vision of life. But everyone possesses such a vision.” – Heath Lambert, A Theology of Biblical Counseling: The Doctrinal Foundations of Counseling Ministry, p. 16
At the risk of making you feel as if you’re being interrogated under a heat lamp from a fast-food restaurant, the reason I posed the aforementioned questions is because, if nothing else, elections are about promises…
And why do we hope?
Why do we believe?
We hope because something inside of us longs for righteousness in our political leaders. We know it is right that those who are in authority over us should exercise that power with integrity and equity.
We believe because, as Christians, we trust in the veracity of a God who has so purposed that worldly governments operate and function “as a minister of God for our good” (Romans 13:4a).
Nevertheless, we must not be naive to the fact that underneath all the pomp and circumstance of presidential politics is the universal truth that, like each of us, politicians are sinners by nature (Romans 3:23). That any man or woman should, by God’s sovereign will (Romans 13:1b), attain to the highest office in the land – or any office for that matter – won’t change that.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul. Therefore I have hope in Him. – Lamentations 7:24 (NASB)
My pointing out the fallen nature of politicians is not to suggest that Christians should hold such a thing against those who seek political office. Such logic would be both misguided and hypocritical, as no human being could then even run for office let alone be elected to one.
Which is why spiritual discernment is so critical.
Consider the counsel given to Moses by his father-in-law, Jethro, concerning the governance of the people of Israel during the Exodus from Egypt:
Now listen to me: I will give you counsel and God be with you. You be the people’s representative before God, and you bring the disputes to God, then teach them the statutes and the laws, and make known to them the way in which they are to walk and the work they are to do. Furthermore, you shall select out of all the people able men who fear God, men of truth, those who hate dishonest gain; and you shall place these over them as leaders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens.” – Exodus 18:19-21 (NASB)
Then there is David, whom God ordained to be king over the nation of Israel while he was but a shepherd boy, looking not at his external attributes as qualification for the office, but at something far more important:
When they entered, he [Samuel] looked at Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before Him.” But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Then Jesse called Abinidab and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, “The Lord has not chosen this one either.” Next Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “The Lord has not chosen this one either. Thus Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. But Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen these.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Are these all the children?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, and behold, he is tending the sheep.” Then Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him here; for we will not sit down until he comes here.” So he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, with beautiful eyes and a handsome appearance. And the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him, for this is he.” – 1 Samuel 16:6-12 (NASB)
Whether we realize it or not, the reason so many people – Christians and non-Christians alike – are so concerned about this presidential election is because it is fundamentally a matter of biblical theology, not political ideology.
Regardless of one’s political persuasion or party affiliation, each of us has an innate awareness of our capacity as human beings to commit evil. It is this shared but unacknowledged awareness of our penchant to sin against one another that is causing such an unprecedented level of angst among voters across the nation. Our problem is we simply refuse to treat it as the spiritual issue it is.
It has been said that the elections of 2016 are the most crucial in our nation’s 240-year history.
I can’t say that I disagree.
Given what is at stake in this election, particularly as it relates to potential implications to the church and our ability as Christians to continue to freely practice our beliefs, as followers of Christ we must ask ourselves:
- Have I attempted to see these presidential candidates as God sees them; looking past the external to fruit of who he or she is on the inside?
- What biblical evidence is there that either of these candidates is endeavoring to live a righteous life before the God who created them in His image?
- Am I viewing this election as a spiritual matter with spiritual implications to our nation or do I see it merely as my civic duty to perform?
- To what degree, if any, does my professed Christian worldview shape my political ideology?
- Do I compartmentalize my Christianity so that it applies only to certain areas of my life and not others?
- Have I spent time alone, before the face of God, seeking His divine wisdom as to how I should cast my vote?
Righteousness exalts a nation. But sin is a disgrace to any people.” – Proverbs 14:34 (NASB)
Needless to say, there is no “perfect” political candidate.
There has never been nor will there ever be.
Whether president or dog catcher – all are sinners alike.
But, you see, perfection is not the standard.
God’s standard of perfection was met in His Son Jesus Christ. It is in Him alone that perfect righteousness can be found (2 Corinthians 5:21).
But though God does not require perfection of us, He does require holiness (1 Peter 1:15-16). And if God requires holiness in the lives of we who profess to believe in Him, how then can we discount or disregard it in the lives of those we choose to govern us (Proverbs 29:2; 2 Corinthians 6:14)?
“Holiness is the habit of being of one mind with God, according as we find His mind described in Scripture. It is the habit of agreeing with God’s judgment, hating what He hates, loving what He loves, and measuring everything in this world by the standard of His Word. He who most entirely agrees with God, he is the most holy man.” – J.C. Ryle, Holiness
When we consider that the very concept of government was established by God (Romans 13:1), then, to the Christian at least, voting is seen as not just a civic duty but a spiritual discipline.
Yes, all politicians are sinners.
That much is true.
And yet we can still pray that God will have mercy on our nation so that the right sinner is elected to office in November.
Darrell B. Harrison is a Reformed Baptist, theologian, U.S. Army veteran, and blogger. He blogs at JustThinking.me.
The views expressed in opinion articles are solely those of the author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by Black Community News.