I’ve been a political chaplain for almost 15 years. It’s the most exciting work I’ve ever done. One of the benefits of this role is that it’s given me a tremendous opportunity to learn, grow and think about faith and politics and the need for Christians to become politically active. There are many ways for that to happen. Voting for your preferred candidate is an excellent first step. Beyond that, supporting a candidate’s campaign, preparing to run or actually running as a candidate yourself are additional critical steps to meaningful political engagement.
The relationship between Christians and politics is complicated. The reality is that we are citizens of Heaven and this world at the same time. It’s a given that there is constant conflict between the values of Heaven and the values of this world. There is little common ground between the two. Politics and politicians cannot provide the kind of answers that our hearts yearn to see. At best, our earthly political decisions are compromises towards what we see by faith. While we need to be intentionally and purposefully engaged in this world, our hope is always in what Heaven will bring and not in what our political leaders will promise us. Navigating that within the political dynamic is a constant challenge.
This tension has created some interesting dynamics in our thinking. There are Christians who intentionally don’t vote as a matter of principle. For some, it’s a matter of not engaging in the affairs of this world. That is their right and privilege. I believe that Christians should vote and that we should do it prayerfully and thoughtfully. Voting is a privilege and an expression of good citizenship. We need to take advantage of every opportunity given to us to cast our ballot.
There’s a diversity of opinions on how Christians should act/align politically. Some of it is sound advice coming from deep thinking. Some of that thinking is shallow populism summarized in broad statements that we should ignore, and some of it is just funny.
Under the ‘funny’ category, here’s what I mean. One time, a pastor friend became pretty ‘fired up’ about the election as he was preaching. In a moment where inspiration overtook forethought, I heard him say that we should only vote for Christian candidates. (If you’re a pastor reading this, turn to your neighbour and say, ‘I’ve done stuff like that too!’) Thankfully, I didn’t burst out laughing, but only because I was so shocked that he said it OUT LOUD while holding a microphone!
Some of my Christian brothers and sisters are skilled and competent leaders. Voting for them (if they’re on your ballot and you agree with their platform) could be a good choice. At the same time, I have other spiritual brothers and sisters who are probably good at many different things, but they should never be elected to office. Just because someone loves Jesus doesn’t mean that they will be a good politician. Use your vote wisely!
Under ‘sort of funny,’ some people will encourage you to ‘Vote for Jesus’. I know it’s a euphemism, but it’s mostly an attempt to be cute and spiritual simultaneously. Jesus isn’t looking for your vote. He wants your love, life and loyalty, but that’s a conversation for another time. Jesus has a kingdom that surpasses political ideology. Jesus doesn’t run for office. Plan to vote for someone else.
Under the ‘not funny at all’ category: In every election campaign, someone in the average Christian’s world will say or post, ‘This election is about life’ in an attempt to sway/encourage people to vote a particular way. Elections are never about just one thing; they are always about many things. The person in your riding who is running on a life issue might be your best choice to represent you politically, or they could be entirely out of their depth. If you agree with them on multiple topics, then vote for them, but they shouldn’t get your vote, nor should they be cancelled based on their stance on a single point. Vote thoughtfully towards the big picture.
This is a critical time in our nation. As Christians, we need to respond with purpose and clarity. Here are 4 simple steps that you can take that will help you do that.
- We’ve created an election prayer journey that will help you pray with purpose and focus about the upcoming vote. Register with us to receive regular updates for the duration of the campaign. Click here, and ‘like/follow’ if you’d like to participate through social media.
- Encourage your friends, family and church to participate with us.
- Take time to hear God speak to you.
- Plan to vote! You’ll find voting options here.
Jesus, Politics and You: Who Would Jesus Vote For? is in the funnel for next week! Don’t miss it!
— Tim Schindel