Watch Out! (Preparing for Election Discernment)
As the great race for the next president exponentially heats up from the pounding feet of contenders hoofing the campaign trail, I have been profoundly impressed to render the simple admonition to all who might listen, “Watch out!”
The office of president of the United States seems to be at the same time both heavily coveted as well as lightly esteemed. Coveted in the sense that everybody wants the power and lightly esteemed in that no one wants anyone else to have it and therefore tends to volley aspersions to the one who does have it (whether deserved or not).
As it is so heavily coveted, one can assume that “nasty politics” are simply part of the process and perhaps are assumed to be a “necessary” part of the process as slander follows slander and libel follows libel. What this really does, however, is reveal a profound flaw in character that is neither necessary nor unavoidable. In the confusion that swirls around candidates for the office of president (or any office for that matter), we are given an arena by which we may judge the suitability of such candidates for the positions towards which they reach. This arena is simply the content of their character. Such content is revealed in the choices that they consistently make (whatever promises they may make, it’s their pattern of choices that reveal what they’ll do in the future).
Any candidate who constantly recites the unsuitability of other candidates, making such recitations his primary campaign strategy for winning an election is himself unsuitable for the position. But far more alarming and even evil is the one who dons the skin of advocate, ally, and friend in order to garner votes. Now, don’t tell me everyone does it. While I wouldn’t necessarily deny the claim, how would that change the point that it is evil and deceitful? Naturally, it wouldn’t. If you don’t like being used, be careful for whom you vote. Look beyond campaign promises to what lies beneath. Look past the uncertain visage of a smiling and enthusiastic politician for signs of depth: honesty, compassion, courage, and perseverance.
I recently read a speech rendered by a popular presidential candidate and noted the heavy use of contemporary Christian idioms. On the one hand, it seems wonderful to find someone who attests to a deep and abiding relationship with God, recognizing the great sacrifice made by Jesus on our behalf, and the grace that He offers to all who would receive it. On the other hand, the question arose (as well it should for anyone considering a candidate), “How does this ‘faith’ shape the rest of his character?”
If his claims to believe God’s Word are true, then it follows that God’s Word is shaping his character and will be a prevalent factor in how he governs. A sense of God’s justice, a deep understanding (and appreciation) of our country’s need to obey and trust God, and a deep regard for consistently doing what is right should somehow be evident in that candidate’s life. And if we can see it in the “lesser” stations that the candidate has held, then we may indeed hope to see it in the big things as well.
Here then is where fits one of two great principles that I would like to share with you. “He who is faithful with little can also be trusted with much.” And why is this? Because he who strives to use well what he has, even when it seems like it may not matter, is reinforcing his character against the temptations that naturally arise with greater opportunities.
Also, if one is trustworthy when no one else is “looking” (or is visibly present to hold her accountable), she may well be considered trustworthy when she is entrusted with far more. Jesus upheld this “Kingdom Principle” as He taught His disciples about the use of “talents” in Matthew 25:14-30.
The second great principle one should consider in an election year is that some come wearing “sheep’s clothing”, but are in fact “wolves”. Politicians are infamous for “spinning” towards constituencies that will render them significant numbers of votes. Knowing well that in our “melting pot culture” there are countless numbers of sub-cultures, each with common features within them and specific distinctives that set them apart from other sub-cultures, campaign managers across the board will invariably look for pockets of people who can be wooed their way (hoping all the while that they’ll do it better than their competitors). Ethnic groups, various kinds of laborers, and even common roles in families are all targeted sub-groups within our society.
Not least among them are those who indicate faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior as well as devotion to His Word. Just as one might point out that one’s claim to be a friend to laborers is not necessarily reliable in of itself (no matter how much the sauce of sympathy and congeniality is poured out upon it), one would be wise who recognized that the same goes for others groups as well, including those who live their lives seeking to be true to God.
“Jesus answered, ‘Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name…’” (Matthew 24:4-5a). Jesus Himself cautions us to watch carefully any and all who say that they follow Him and are therefore worthy of our support. And those who call for not only our support but our allegiance as well require our careful observation. Does this person for whom I might vote have an honest character? Does what he or she says “jive” with what God’s Word says? Does what they do “jive” with what His Word says?
It might be that you are beset with confusion on these points, not certain yourself what His Word actually has to say about how to live life. If you cannot say that you really know how to discern the “right” candidate for your country and community, then be comforted that God has given you the means by which you can learn such discernment: His holy Word. Get a Bible and start reading it. Find a church that loves His Word and truly follows the crucified and risen Savior, Jesus. Get involved with other “truth seekers” and let Him reveal Himself to you through His Word and let Him prepare you for the awesome task of voting. And by the way, the real fruit isn’t only that you’ll know better how to vote in an election, but that your own life becomes something better and more meaningful as God Himself begins to glean from your life fruit that will last.
Copyright © Thom Mollohan.
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I sure appreciate that someone is putting out the warning. Some candidates (one that immediately comes to my mind in particular) claim to have faith in God and then, whether one is familiar with the Word or not, make it quite obvious by their actions that they do not at all agree with Godly principles. Yes, I fully agree that we all need to become familiar with the Word... regardless of whether we intend to vote or use that as a basis for choice. But I believe that even those who are not thoroughly familiar with the Word do at least have the knowledge that faith in God and partial birth abortion could not possibly go hand in hand. Again, I sure appreciate that someone's getting the warning out. America needs it.
Yes, I agree wholeheartedly. If a candidate does not demonstrate an esteem for life (whether unborn or "disabled"), how naive to assume that he/she would esteem our own!