I’ve always struggled to know how to engage in politics, both as a citizen and a communicator.
I believe it’s clear that God calls us to care about the state of our world, of our country, of our cities and neighborhoods. And while at times I’ve tried, it’s impossible to care about the state of our country without caring about the state of our politics. No matter the party policies on governmental involvement in our daily life, the government still has a dramatic impact on the state of our country and our world.
As a 32 year old I’ve never known an election that wasn’t caricatured on SNL. Every ballot I’ve cast has been under the influence not just of the media, but social media, with everyday voices gaining a power and presence that doesn’t equate to their depth of access or knowledge of truth.
But as nebulous as it feels truth has become inside of political conversations, one reality has become incredibly clear to me: you cannot put Jesus on one side of the political conversation.
As aligned as we might be with a party’s platform, our God does not belong as an advocate to the policies and purposes of one candidate or one party. God’s kingdom is too large, his concern too unique to every one of us, his love and power too multifaceted and unceasing generation to generation to align fully with the imperfections of our political policies.
With that reality in mind, how I will vote this election has been increasingly clear this year: I will pray and vote my conscience.
As much as I have and will continue to research the policies and effectiveness of each of our candidates, through prayer and humility I will follow the conscience I hope and believe is under the influence of the Spirit. And I want to encourage you to do the same.
Rather than assuming all Christians’ consciences should align with yours, remember that each of us has a different lived experience. Each of us are wired in personality to be naturally predicated towards certain issues. No one of us can hold dear every concern and initiative of God’s heart and his kingdom, or every valuable policy or project of our government.
The power of our unity lies in the very fact that God does not value uniformity.
Somehow, as each of us express our uniqueness more fully, those expressions more purely fill out the fullness of Christ.
But as you seek to embody Christ more fully, and to express him through your conscience as you vote, I do have three practical encouragements for you today.
One, do not get your news from social media.
As recently documented in The Social Dilemma, a powerful documentary on Netflix, “fake news” is proven to be seven times more powerful in keeping your attention than real news. And it is your attention that is the product social platforms seek to gain and sell to advertisers.
When you consume news, please pay for it. It’s the news we pay for that isn’t written or curated with the primary goal of selling advertising. It’s the news we pay for that has the best chance of being well researched. The old axiom holds true: you get what you pay for. And truth is worth your money.
Two, guard your peace.
As easy as it is to be consumed by the urgency and incendiary tone of almost every political conversation, life has existed prior to this election and will continue to go on after this election. God has worked in and through governmental systems throughout the whole of our human history, and will continue to do so long after this election.
What matters more than who is in office is the way in which we seek to love God, love ourselves, and love others. What matters more than the vote we cast is the ways we exhibit the fruit of the Spirit in these days. Your primary call is to be a fully devoted and healthy citizen of heaven before it is to be a citizen of America.
And three, step up your connection with God this season.
The noisier our world gets, the more we need the stillness of God. Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
The more we get engaged in political action, the more we need to ensure that our hearts are connected and concerned first with the kingdom of heaven. The more we believe in a political candidate, the more we need to ensure that our hope is in God.
Every day before we go out into the world we need to pull away from it, to set our eyes on the person of Jesus and remember what matters most.
And in this season, may we find hope in the fact that no matter the outcome, God uses both the good and the hard occurrences of life together in his redemption of us and of our world. No pain, no disappointment, no victory goes wasted in the hands of Christ in whom we live, and move, and have our being (Acts 17:28).