We are just days before one of the most important and divisive presidential elections of our time. Followers of Jesus are totally confounded about how to vote their values. Several leading evangelicals have drawn rigid lines in the sand. Pointing fingers, they accuse one another of misrepresenting the faith. Many, in the middle, struggle with whether either candidate, with two different visions for America, reflects their cherished values. Conflicted about voting, some are asking questions: "how would Jesus vote in this election? And, how should God's people [agents] vote in this election?"
During his earthly ministry, Jesus served fully as God's agent and modeled God's value system in everything he did. Demonstrating God's love, Jesus affirmed the divine image in flawed humans of every background: a Samaritan woman of ill repute; a wealthy man, Zacchaeus, who exploited the poor, and a Roman centurion or military leader whose son needed healing.
As "new creations" and "agents of reconciliation", (2 Corinthians 5:17,18), followers of Jesus are spiritually equipped to love those outside their comfort zone, see all others as God sees them; and build bridges across many divides.
In the context of this current and most controversial moment, what can we learn from Jesus' life about how he would vote in this election?
1. PURPOSE: Jesus would begin by understanding his purpose.
Jesus began his ministry announcing his purpose saying,"Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near." (Matthew 4:17). Being God's agent means placing priority on God's higher spiritual kingdom or commandments, than on natural earthly laws or human desires. St. Augustine agonized over this life-long struggle between the spiritual and the natural, especially the strong temptation of sex, money, and power. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., chose to violate state segregation laws and faced jail to affirm God's divine image in all citizens who deserved to be treated humanely. Above all else, God's agents must honor their higher spiritual purpose by voting for leaders who value God's word.
2. POWER: Jesus would use his power to act on behalf of the vulnerable.
Jesus was empowered by God in his humanity to do great works on earth. He promised his followers they would do even "greater works" by surrendering their agenda to God's agenda. (John 14:12). Spirit-led agents of God must no longer surrender their power focusing almost solely on two faith-defined issues: traditional marriage and abortion. Whatever your background, you must take back your power and be God's agent for all struggling and hurting Americans. This includes a commitment to be God's agent on behalf of poor whites in Appalachia, or the millions of middle and working-class Americans victimized by jobs outsourced overseas. Be God's agent for historically Black Colleges and Universities that educate the majority of black doctors in America. Be God's agent for equal pay for women, the breadwinners for most homes in America. Be God's agent as a student, voting for leaders who oppose rising campus sexual assaults and support affordable college for our young people. Be God's agent for affordable healthcare with lower premiums; and for immigration reform that keeps families united. Be God's agent for a non-biased criminal justice system, safer streets, and community policing. As God's agent, you are backed by over 2000 verses of sacred scripture on God's preferential care for the vulnerable, and Matthew 25's call to care for the " least of these".
3. PEACEMAKER: Jesus would be a bridge-builder and peacemaker between opposing sides on issues.
Jesus blessed peacemakers, and called followers to be salt in a decaying earth, and light in a dark and divided world. He defined disciples and followers, saying, " Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples." (John 13:35) He taught that the greatest commandment is to love God and others as oneself. During this election campaign, there has been an embarrassing level of acrimony, and finger pointing between faith voters supporting either candidate. No matter who wins the 2016 election, those led by the Spirit of God must set aside their political viewpoints, "reason together", and help heal a severely divided church community and nation.
4. PRAYER: Jesus would pray before he voted.
Jesus prayed about everything. Before every challenge, like feeding the five thousand (Matthew 14:13); bringing the dead back to life (John 11:41, 42); before crucifixion (Matthew 26:42), and even on the cross experiencing a brutal execution, (Luke 23:34), Jesus prayed. The moral and spiritual transformation of America and the election of high character leaders in every sphere of influence will be produced by prayer. Christ-followers should pray for the wisdom of God in choosing leaders and policies that reflect God's values. Most of all they should pray for leaders on opposing sides, that they will follow God's word in all decisions.
WHAT STEPS SHOULD YOU TAKE AS GOD'S AGENT WHEN VOTING?
Whether you have voted early or are waiting to vote, the question is what would my life look like if I were acting as God's agent? For those yet to vote, consider the following:
- Make sure you are registered to vote (www.vote.org). Be clear about what ID is needed and voting location. Vote early if possible to avoid election day hassles.
- Visit Google, print out the sample ballot. Do your homework. Study candidates' positions and ballot issues. No candidate perfectly reflects God's agenda. You must assess how close candidate's positions are to God's word. Vote the entire ballot. Study positions like school board, judges, and district attorneys who oversee issues like high crime levels and police brutality. Ask yourself, which candidate can act as peacemaker between the police and the community?
- Reject the idea of not voting. You also have a role to play on election day. God's agents must be present at polling places in poor and working class neighborhoods to ensure against voter intimidation, suppression, and even physical assaults.
- Join or start a small prayer group to pray for all candidates and their families. Pray that they will represent God's agenda in the decisions they will make.
" If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it." (Luke 9:23)