There is a great line from the movie Hoosiers that sums up my feelings about this election. In a tense exchange between two coaches, one says to the other: “There is a difference between a man who howls at the moon, and one who howls at the moon in my front yard.” The first I can look on with amusement or indifference; the other I am forced to deal with.
At the beginning of this election cycle, I found much of it entertaining from a distance. Now that the candidates are chosen and it’s “in my front yard,” I’m forced to deal with two rather unpleasant options. Thus comes part of the dilemma of voting as a Christian.
Now, unfortunately, too often when we talk of how a Christian should be involved in politics, we present it in terms of extremes. We are either to be focused on an election, candidate, and issues, or we are to be single-mindedly focused on the gospel to the exclusion of the other.
With that in mind, I want to say up front: I believe strongly in the importance of civic involvement for a Christian. If the “accidents of history” have a profound effect on the future, how much more do the choices of those who live in a democracy.
We have an obligation to be engaged. Our struggle often lies in how we view our involvement.
When the apostle Paul says that “our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20 ESV), he says that in opposition to those whose minds are “set on earthly things” (v. 19). Whatever the fullness of that “citizenship” means, it must certainly mean we are to have a different paradigm from the non-believer.
We are to think and live first and foremost with an eternal perspective. The spiritual is to take priority over the temporal. Jesus made clear that His kingdom was not advanced by the same means and manner that earthly men advance their kingdoms (John 18:36). His kingdom is not of this world.
So we must come to this conclusion: The greatest need of the hour is not political, it is revival in the church! The greatest hope for America, or any other nation, is a church which has sanctified Christ as Lord in her heart and has the life-changing power of Christ as her primary distinctive. Historically, a revived church has influence whether the culture is friendly to it, or in a country hostile to it, such as under Communism.
Let me ask you a simple question: Given the power to choose, would you rather have the candidate of your choice elected President, or would you rather see a great revival in the church? If there was a moment of hesitation in your thinking, you need a new paradigm—a spiritual one.
Throughout the centuries the church has alternately been courted, hated, manipulated, oppressed, flattered, criticized, loved, ignored, persecuted, and about every other description you can come up with. How about a radical paradigm change: What if the church were feared?
Mary, Queen of Scots was said to have feared the prayers of John Knox more than the armies of Europe. What if the church were feared today, not because it could mobilize voters, but because it walked in spiritual power—the kind of power that changes a life so radically that it refuses to compromise the Word of God, righteousness, or its conscience for anyone’s agenda—a power that storms the gates of hell because its authority is Christ who leads it?
So, vote! But use the best of your energies to seek God for revival. Do this so that, as King David said, the world will know that there is a God, and the people will know that He does not deliver with sword or spear (1 Samuel 17.46-47).