Growing up Christian I was taught that the ultimate evidence our profession of faith in Christ was genuine and real was whether or not such a profession translated into our outward behavior and choices.
After all these years, that’s something I still believe to be true.
While we individually face decisions and choices every day that reveal whether or not our commitment to Jesus is true and real, each generation seems to find themselves at a moment in history when the authenticity of the entire group is tested… a moment not only in full public view, but one where history itself will forever record whether or not Christians were the people of Jesus, or total frauds.
For my generation, I believe with all my heart that one of those moments is upon is with the 2020 election– and that the witness of the Church itself is one of the issues to be decided.
In light of this moment dawning upon us, here are some timely and critical Christian principles that Christians in America should remember when they are in the voting booth this year:
Christians are called to prioritize the common good-- instead of just their own good.
When Paul instructed the earliest Christians, he gave them a strong directive: they were to reject the notion of rugged individualism where each person focused on their own needs, desires, and liberties, and that instead, Christians were called to be people who prioritized the needs of others:
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Philippians 2:4
For those of us who profess to be Christians and who long to be loyal to the Christian faith as passed to us from the saints, we are called first and foremost to vote for what is in the common good, instead of what might simply be in our own good.
That means when we go to the ballot box, we need to be thinking of those in our society who are different than ourselves, and who face different life circumstances– and we need to humbly and thoughtfully cast our vote in a way that prioritizes their needs.
Christians are instructed to remember the needs of the poor.
While we are called to prioritize others and vote for the common good, Christians in particular are called to make sure they always remember the needs of the poor. And this isn’t some minor, ancillary part of being a Christian– it is at the foundation of being a Christian.
The Bible gives us some important details on the birth of the early Church. While Jesus of course picked his 12 disciples, later on it was the disciples themselves who picked new ones to welcome into the fold. When Paul was formally welcomed into the group by Peter, James, and John, he was commissioned and sent out as a disciple. Any when he was, the original disciples had one key thing that was of critical importance to them:
“James, Peter, and John, those esteemed as pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the circumcised. All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along.” – Galatians 2:9
So, if when the disciples of Jesus sent out new Christian leaders into the world with the critical reminder that whatever they do, they needed to remember the poor, we too would do well to stand in that ballot box and vote with the poor in mind.
Christians are to remember that the end doesn't justify the means.
Jesus famously said, “what would it profit a man if he got everything he wanted but lost his own soul in the process?”
Jesus was very clear that the end result doesn’t matter if your very heart and soul gets lost along the way.
If Jesus were speaking to us today, I imagine he might say something like, “But what good would it do if you got control of the Supreme Court itself, but totally destroyed the Christian witness to the world in the process?”
Christians are commanded to have no association with a particular type of professing believer:
Yes, Christians are called to love everyone, but the Bible is clear that there is a specific type of professing Christian where we are called to draw a hard line and have no association with them. That specific command was given to us by Paul in the book of 1st Corinthians:
“But I am writing to you that you must not associate with any professing believer who is immoral, who is greedy and a lover of money, idolatrous, verbally abusive and known for mocking and slandering others, a drunkard, and who extorts and swindles others for his own gain— do not even share a meal with such a person.”
In the early Church, they were taught that such a person is a total fraud and someone they should stay far away from. The idea that this passage would one day be a pretty close description of a person Christians would support for president would be unthinkable to the first Christians.
For those of us who still want to claim to be part of this faith, we have no business associating with a candidate who comes so close to fitting this description.
Finally, when going to the ballot box, Christians *might* want to remember certain heaven or hell issues Jesus warned us about.
Heaven or hell issues– all those who grew up evangelical remember those. They were certain things that place you on the wrong side of Jesus, no matter how much you might claim to be a Christian.
But here’s a funny thing: Jesus actually tells us what the final judgement will be like, and tells us what those heaven or hell issues are. It’s an inconvenient passage in Matthew 25 where Jesus describes standing in front of a group of Christians and condemning them to eternal punishment. And the reasons? He’s perfectly clear:
Not feeding the homeless, clothing the naked, not speaking up for those locked in cages, and for refusing to welcome the refugee.
So when we vote, if we believe Jesus and believe that stuff about sin and judgement, we might wanna make sure we’re voting to feed the hungry and welcome refugees– because I don’t think he could make it any more clear that those things are absolutely heaven or hell issues.
So you’re a Christian and believe we’re supposed to remember biblical values when we vote?
Great– I am too.
These are just a few Christian values you might want to keep in mind, because there’s a lot riding on them– like maybe even a soul or two.