Well, perhaps you’ve heard: there’s an election next week.
And I’ve never seen the nation or the Church more divided over politics. For the most part, evangelicals are angrily—and I do mean angrily—split over whether to vote for one of the two most disliked candidates in history, to vote third party, or whether to even vote at all.
The anxiety, the anger, and the vitriol are over the top. So with the election just a few days away, let’s take a breath and do a reality check.
First and foremost, the ultimate reality is this: Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. As I said recently on Focus on the Family with Jim Daly, this is not just a spiritual truth, it is the singular truth of the universe. The entire story of human history centers on Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.
Yes, we have two horrible candidates for the presidency. Yes, Supreme Court seats are at stake. Yes, the Church is coming under enormous and fiendish pressure from all sides.
But none of that, not an iota, changes the fact that Christ is risen. To be a Christian in this world means to place our ultimate hope in that incontrovertible fact, not in the electoral process, in our nation, or in anything else.
And second, even so, you need to vote. And here’s why. God has placed you and me in this country, in our particular state, in our particular community at this particular time. And as my fellow Focus guest Carrie Gordon Earll said on that same broadcast, we—unlike many of our Christian brothers and sisters around the world—have the opportunity to vote, and to use that vote to do good.
I can’t and won’t tell you how to vote for President. But not showing up at the ballot box is not an option for a believer. Besides the presidential race, there are Senate and House seats up for grabs. Don’t forget state representatives. And of course ballot initiatives in your area.
In Colorado, where I live, we have nine different initiatives on the ballot. Citizens in my state will be voting on whether to allow physicians to help their patients kill themselves—a law that would threaten the old, the disabled, and the mentally depressed. To stay at home and allow the march of death to continue unabated in our state and across the country is not an option. As James reminded us in his letter, “To him who knows to do good and does it not, it is sin” (James 4:17).
Third, as you consider your presidential, state, and local vote, remember this: Many issues are important. A few, however, are essential.
Take the dignity of human life from conception to natural death. When Chuck and many of us signed the Manhattan Declaration, we said we would gladly render to Caesar what is Caesar’s, but we would never render to Caesar what belongs to God. And human life belongs to God. Our dignity, our rights, come from Him, not from the state. We need to defend life with our vote.
And then there’s marriage. Undermining and redefining it weakens the key institution that—along with religious and civic organizations—promotes a healthy society.
And then there’s religious freedom and freedom of conscience. At this moment of American history, forces hostile to Christianity are trying to keep religious faith out of the public square. This radical shift is not only an attack on religion, it’s an attack on the Constitution itself.
And finally, remember, the election will be over soon. On November 9 we’ll still have lots of work to do, more important work—not only to heal the rifts within the body of Christ, but also to get back to the business of testifying to Christ and His resurrection—in the culture, on the job, at school, in each and every aspect of life.
It may be harder to do after this election. But so what? Elections come and go every two and four years. But the task of being salt and light in this darkening culture never goes away.
This election demonstrates, again, that politics is downstream from culture. This election fiasco was decades in the making. The only way to see a healthier polis is to get to work upstream, rebuilding the institutions of civil society.
— by John Stonestreet
Stonestreet is the Director of Strategic Partnerships for the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview and is heard on Breakpoint. Copyright© 2016 Prison Fellowship Ministries. Reprinted with permission. BreakPoint is a ministry of Prison Fellowship Ministries.