Would you agree with me in saying that no general election has been more controversial than that of the 2016 presidential campaign? Previously, we mainly saw a divide between two political parties: those who identify with the Republican party and those who identify with the Democrat party. This election season is different. There is great divide among political parties. You have some Republicans who think Trump really will “Make America Great Again” while you have other Republicans who constantly hashtag “#nevertrump.”Among the Democrats, you have those who are confident Clinton is the best qualified candidate, while there are others who call her a liar.
Division in the local church
Unfortunately, this division has infiltrated the assemblies. Social media is the gateway to this division. While political stances may not be discussed within the assembly from the pulpit or during the fellowship hour in between meetings, simply turn to social media and you will see a myriad of political posts from brothers and sisters in Christ, flashing who they support for all their friends to see, believers and unbelievers alike. These posts crafted by other Christians are usually not phrased with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and above all, love (Colossians 3: 12).
Instead they are immoral, impure and angry. They might be calling out something ridiculous the opposing candidate said. Ridiculous to them, in their unsolicited opinion. Point blank, you are hurting your testimony. Rise above. Keep your political convictions between you and the Lord. Your comments, whether your intent or not, may be causing strife, anger and resentment among the body of Christ.
So what then? Keep quiet until November 9, when this is all behind us? No. We can’t keep quiet because most likely things won’t magically change the day after the election. Political talk will likely still infiltrate society for many weeks and months ahead, causing more and more division among America but also among the church.
Talk about unity
So here are three reasons why we should be talking about this election in our assemblies.
Unity. Elders, fellow believers, let us be reminded of Paul’s emphasis on unity. Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:3 to “maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” This verse emphasizes two things: 1.We are unified in the Spirit – once we are saved we become part of the body of Christ; there is no separating from it. 2. There is great effort that has to be put in preserving this unity. Elders must remind the assembly that we cannot give Satan the opportunity to create division over this election.
Talk about morality
Morality. If one word could describe this election, many would say hypocrisy. Many agree that both candidates display minimal moral standards and values, yet each party is claiming the other to be immoral. There are some foundational truths that should be addressed in order to maintain our integrity and our Christian values as we approach the election.
Being moral and maintaining your Christian values does not require you to vote. The government gives us the right to vote; it does not force us to vote. The Bible does not command us to vote. Now don’t get me wrong, I by no means discourage voting. Instead, I’m asking you to be ok with Christians who have prayed and may decide not to vote on November 8. We cannot call them bad Christians.
Secondly, I’m challenging you not to identify with a political party or with an individual candidate. Testimonies can be destroyed because of identification. The only person we should ever identify with is Jesus Christ, “for you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God”.
Finally, who I vote for does not determine my moral standards. There are flaws in both political parties, in both candidates, in both of their future plans. There would be flaws in any candidate because we are flawed, sinful, imperfect people. Regardless of who I vote for, I can confidently say they will have policies that go against my Christian values. Morality isn’t based on who you vote for, but how you live out virtues found in Scripture.
Talk about end times
The End Times Eschatology (the study of end times) is another reason to discuss this election. It seems the church has forgotten that our King is coming back for us. “Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,” (Philippians 3:20). I have seen Christian after Christian, I’m talking well-known, respected believers among the assemblies, post comments on social media such as: “If x is our next president we are doomed.”
I can’t help but ask myself, “Are they really a believer?” The only people who are doomed are those who have not received Jesus Christ as Savior. John reminds us in his first letter, “What we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him,” (1 John 3:2). Instead of considering ourselves doomed, we should be thankful that the Holy Spirit is our guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it. I am so thankful that this election does not determine my future.
Therefore, I exhort the elders among the assemblies to consider discussing this election with the flock God has enabled you to oversee. Encourage the believers to maintain the unity of the body of Christ. Exhort them to maintain their morality and Christian values as they discuss the election and vote. Finally, remind them of the eschatological hope we have in Christ.
Praise God that this election will not determine the final outcome of our lives. May we pray that whoever is elected as president will conform us to the image of Christ. This may mean limiting our freedoms, or giving us more rights, either way may God be glorified.