– Matthew 5:13-16 (NIV)
Is it that we don't care? That's unlikely in most cases. By and large, Christians probably care the most about our great nation and its people. What then?
Well, I was in that 40% camp. As a young Christian in my thirties, I had made a habit of taking every Election Day off work to spend in prayer, yet I never voted. I remember, just before the election of 1992, an older friend in Christ reminded me to get out and vote. "I don't vote," I responded. "As Christians, I don't believe we are called to get involved in dirty politics. Just to pray that God takes care of getting the right people into office."
My friend ever-so-graciously made me reflect on what I had just said. "Our citizens have a privilege that many countries don't -- to elect honest and upright leaders. So, you're saying that voting is involvement in the world's 'dirty politics,' and yet you'll spend the whole day praying for others to have that precise involvement. If all Christians did as you do, then no prayerful Christian votes would be cast at all. Do you believe all Christians should take the day off praying (and hoping) that the 'dirty political' non-Christians will cast votes in their place? Or ... is it that you believe God will install those honest, upright leaders without anyone voting whatsoever?"
It was too late to register to vote in 1992 ... I did still pray! ... but I had plenty to think about. Number one, of course, is ... what does the Bible say?
- Not surprisingly, the Bible says nothing directly about voting in an election. Fact is, none of the nations in Bible times had a democratic system. (We've all heard of Greek democracy, but that lasted less than 200 years, ending more than three centuries before Christ.)
- But, back to our lead-in Scripture passage, Jesus identifies us as Salt of the Earth, Light of the World. He further elaborates that light does no good when it's under the bushel; it must get out and cast its light! Rather than just praying for other people to cast votes for "light" (righteous leaders to light our halls of government) -- not that there's anything wrong with prayer! -- should we not ALSO get out and cast some of those votes for "light" ourselves?
- When Jesus walked the earth, Israel was governed by a largely corrupt contingent of elders (the Sanhedrin) under authority of the chief priests, and ultimately under the iron heel of Caesar. Talk about "dirty politics" -- it was the order of the day. And yet, Jesus did not call for open rebellion against the system. He rebuked Peter for taking violent actions against the mob sent by the chief priests. As for the emperor, He said, "Render to Caesar that which is Caesar's."
- Joseph of Arimathea was a prominent member of that very Sanhedrin. As a righteous man, he was able to bring a wise and godly perspective to the court. And his credentials surely helped usher him in before Pilate, from whom he obtained permission to handle Jesus' burial in his own tomb. Scripture has only good things to say about Joseph of Arimathea.
- Examples can be found throughout the Bible of God calling people to positions within government so they can be salt and light. It wasn't "dirty politics" when Joseph ascended to be Pharoah's prime minister and saved the nation from famine. Nor when Daniel (at times, with his three friends) served as high-ranking officials in the cabinet of Nebuchadnezzar -- the same king who had carried the Hebrews into captivity. In fact, Daniel served under four kings: Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, Darius, and Cyrus. He attained the rank of prime minister, and brought such light to all three administrations that these ungodly kings all, in turn, had to recognize the lordship of God Almighty.
- In modern times, there have been countless great men and women -- heroes, many of them -- in government circles who swore allegiance first to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and then to the heads of state whom they served. These are salt and light in high places. Think of William Wilberforce (of the movie "Amazing Grace"). He knew God was calling him "to ministry," and instantly thought that meant he couldn't be a Member of Parliament. But some good friends helped him understand that that was exactly what God had in mind! He went on to be a shining light in Parliament, ultimately leading the very successful campaign to abolish slavery throughout the British Empire!
So, back to voting. It's not a stretch to believe that, if Jesus had walked the earth in the context of a democratic state, he would have encouraged his followers not only to submit to and pray for those in authority, but to go forth under the Spirit's guidance and cast their votes for righteous leaders.
Why not pray ...
"Dear Father, open my heart to deeper, committed prayer for my leaders at all levels -- national, state, and local. Also, please give me wisdom to get out and vote corruption OUT and righteousness IN. And, at all times, may I be salt to a dying culture and light to my dark surroundings. In Jesus' name. Amen"
Originally published as a “Bradstix” devotional on the National Minute of Prayer Facebook page 11/1/2020.
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