It’s been quite a while since I’ve written anything. Between running a very demanding business during COVID and just an overall lack of inspiration I haven’t had much time or energy to write anything. But here I find myself at my keyboard this morning with more time on my hands, because my business is seasonal, and for the first time in months I feel like I have something to say.
If you have spent any time on social media or in front of a television this Summer and early Fall you have been bombarded with encouragements to vote. I can’t remember any other election in my lifetime where there has been so much emphasis placed upon the importance of registering to vote. We are continually being told that this is “the most important election in our lifetime.” I don’t know if that’s true or not, maybe it is, but who decides these things?
The NFL is running a whole campaign urging Americans to vote. Facebook is even paying for ads on television, as if their ubiquitous “are you registered to vote?” banner on your newsfeed isn’t enough! So in the spirit of election season, I’ll add to the cacophony with another encouragement to vote. Yes, if you’re of voting age and you live in a place where you are given the freedom to cast your ballot then by all means show your love for neighbor and go vote. However, please recognize that your vote does not define you, it’s not your identity, and those that vote differently than you are certainly not your enemy (but even if they were you’re still commanded to love and pray for them (Matt. 5:44).
How did we get to a place where I would even have to remind us that our identity is not tied to a political party or particular candidate? That’s a subject for another article, but suffice it to say here we are in a world filled with identity politics and enough anger and vitriol for the opposing side that people are actually promoting and participating in violent acts against those for whom they disagree. If you’re reading this you are probably not part of that minority; you won’t lay a hand on your Trump-supporting neighbor or promote violence against that Biden-supporting member of your church. But that doesn’t mean there still isn’t a problem for us to consider. Over the last few weeks my social media feeds have been filled with Christian people on both sides telling me that if I vote for one candidate or the other that I may need to consider my salvation. You have very prominent voices in the Church, like John Piper and Al Mohler, giving their opinions on who you ought to vote for based upon your Christian faith. Piper cannot tolerate a vote for Trump because of his poor moral character. Mohler however encourages plugging your nose and voting for Trump because despite his obvious character flaws his policies are much more aligned with Christianity and Scripture. Both of these men have taken heat from opposing sides making me wonder why Christian teachers are even wading into these waters. But here I am writing an article on this very subject.
However, I have no desire to tell you who to vote for; you’ve probably already made up your mind and can give me a very thoughtful reason for why you’re voting for that candidate. I certainly have my opinions and have already placed my vote. My purpose for writing this article is to remind you that as a citizen of the kingdom of heaven you have a King who will not be swayed by American partisan politics. Your identity as a Christian is not tied to your candidate of choice. Therefore you are free, free from allowing anyone to cast doubt on your salvation based upon your political preferences. Free from causing anyone else to question their faith due to what Christian convictions they may have to compromise to vote in one direction or the other. Because that is the reality, no matter who you vote for you have to place a set of biblical commands aside and decide which candidate’s policies most align with your views and beliefs.
The good news is that our salvation is not tied to anything we do or don’t do, we are saved by the work of Christ alone, and there is nothing left for you to do. In the same way that as a Christian you are simultaneously a sinner and a saint, so to you are a dual citizen. You are both a citizen of the country in which you live and you are a citizen of Jesus’ kingdom. Your earthly citizenship is rooted in the law and requires you to abide by your nation’s laws, pay taxes, and in many places around the world it affords you the privilege of voting for a person you believe will lead your country in the best possible manner. Your citizenship in the kingdom of heaven is rooted in the gospel and requires nothing from you, in fact what is required for the citizen of Jesus’ kingdom is to take up his cross and follow him (Matt. 16:24-26). It’s our proclivity to take something like this (take up your cross) and to turn it into a work when it is in fact purely gift. This passage in Matthew is an invitation to receive from Christ all that he has given to you; to lose yourself in him, “for whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (vs. 25) The citizen of heaven is put to death and given new life in Christ, Christ’s very own life for you.
This death and resurrection gives you an entirely new identity. An identity that frees you from finding life and value in anything you do under the sun. This isn’t to say that your vote is meaningless, or that you ought to check out of society and just wait for Jesus’ return. In fact Paul rebukes the early Christians in Thessalonica for this very tendency (2 Thess. 3:6-15). So as dual-citizens you live freely in a world given back to you, you are free to vote and engage in this world with all of its politics but you’re also free to have the perspective that Jesus is bigger than your vote and whoever wins this upcoming election will not rescue or ruin you.
“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” (Rom. 13:1)