A Christian’s Approach to Politics Part 4: Choosing Leaders
Updated: Oct 21, 2020
Credit Lawrence Jackson, whitehouse.gov
“I don’t think the way you think. The way you work isn’t the way I work. For as the sky soars high above earth, so the way I work surpasses the way you work, and the way I think is beyond the way you think.” (Isaiah 55:8-11 MSG).
Throughout history we have seen God place people in power that made us say, “What is He thinking?” Yet God clearly reminds us in Isaiah that the way He thinks is far beyond what we can sometimes understand. In a child’s eyes, a parent giving her yucky medicine when she already feels poorly can seem cruel. “Why would Mommy make me take this?” The child lives in her “here and now” moment of life, yet the parent sees the big picture. The mother knows what is best for the child, even when the child does not understand.
We are ending our 4-part series, A Christian’s Approach to Politics, which has been based on questions I have received from readers. A quick recap. In Part 1 we learned how to seek truth using God’s formula: read His Word; pray; seek Godly counsel. We discovered in Part 2 how a Christian should approach politics by first seeking to understand, and secondly, knowing the foundation upon which we stand. Part 3 showed us practical ways to find truth in a world filled with 24-hour news. In the final part of this series, we close by answering another question from a reader. “How do you know what leader to choose? They all seem to have flaws.” My response, “Dear Reader, you are correct!”
I would like you to read the three descriptions below and ask yourself if you would vote for any of these people.
1. A man that slept with another man’s wife and then had her husband killed.
2. A man who murdered another man in cold blood.
3. A man who watched a person killed and did nothing about it. Who then placed people in prison because they did not believe the way he believed, and most egregious, this man set out on a personal mission to kill people that believe like you believe!
I do not know what you would say, but my answer would be a big NO! Yet, God chose all three of these men to be in positions of power to further His plan. God chose to continue His work through Man #1, King David, ruler of Israel, even though he was an adulterer and murderer. God put Man #2, Moses, in charge of leading the Israelites out of slavery, even though Moses was a murderer. God hand selected Man #3, the apostle Paul, the great persecutor of Christians, to become…wait for it…the LEADER of Christians and one of the main spokesmen for Christ! This one still blows me away, but also gives me hope that it is never too late for God to use me.
What if I told you your daughter would grow up to become part of a harem for the future pleasure of a king? You would move heaven and earth to stop this! If I said, “Don’t worry, this is just part of God’s plan,” you would think I was nuts. Yet, this is exactly what God did when He placed Esther in the king’s harem, knowing the ruler of Persia would eventually select her to become his queen, thus placing Esther in a position to save the entire Jewish race from extinction. My point? Looking back, we can clearly see God’s plan unfold, but in the moment, we do not always know what He is doing. And we do not always understand.
It is clear throughout the Bible God has chosen to carry out His plans through governments. We see this in the story of Joseph. A young man was sold into slavery in Egypt, yet this was God’s plan. Once in Egypt, Joseph eventually found his way to become second in command to Pharaoh, thus making him Prime Minister. God used Joseph’s position of authority to accomplish His purpose and save hundreds of thousands from starvation. Yes, God works in our individual lives because He cares for each one of us. But we cannot deny the numerous examples throughout the Bible, where His will was enacted by way of governments. Governments He put in place. This is when, as Christians, we must accept the fact we do not always know why things happen the way they do.
I can pick apart leaders on both sides of the aisle. I can point to horrific things many have done. If all are sinful and fallen short of the glory of God, then how do we choose our leaders? Go back to Part 1 of this blog. You must know your foundation. Which candidate’s policies most closely aligns with your biblical beliefs? Which candidate will fight for your values? The best way to decipher this is read their party’s platform. The candidate may not agree with every tenant of their party’s view, but if they have never held elected office, you have no way of knowing how they will vote on issues, therefore, you must assume they will align with their party’s platform. If the candidate is running for re-election, you can review their past votes and see if they were willing to split from the party and vote their beliefs, even if different from their party’s. Here are the two government sites to follow the candidate voting records:
Once you have a solid foundation in place by knowing what you believe, once you have read each party’s platform, then you will be able to determine which candidate most closely aligns with your beliefs. This will almost always be the person to whom you should give your vote.
“There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.” (Proverbs 6:16-19 ESV). I cannot think of a single politician that has not committed at least one of these acts in Proverbs, and God is clear He hates all these things.
We are reminded, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23 NIV). When we attempt to apply our own purity test, we fall into the trap of trying to determine which candidate has committed the greater sins. Was King David’s sin greater than the apostle Paul’s sin? Maybe, because King David committed adultery, arranged for a murder, and knowingly did this AFTER he had devoted his life to God. The apostle Paul persecuted Christians and sentenced them to die, but he did this BEFORE he knew Christ. King David betrayed God. Paul did not know God the Son at the time he committed his atrocities. Wouldn’t betrayal be a worse sin than ignorance and a hateful heart?
You see how silly this practice is? Sin is sin, and only God knows the truth behind a person’s failings. And when it comes to sin, there is one thing God tells us. “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own.” (Matthew 7: 1-3/MSG). In the NIV version, God calls us hypocrites when we judge other’s sins but ignore our own. We do not understand God’s ways, but we do know ALL sin leads to death unless we have accepted the saving grace of Christ. (Romans 6:23; John 3:16).
Courtesy of MM Public Relations
I want to close by sharing some thoughts from Tony Evans, renowned radio and television broadcaster and pastor, from his book How Should Christians Vote? (I paraphrased, but direct quotes are in quotations. Everything in italics is credited to Evans.)
A constitutional republic is the biblical form of government God gave to Moses (Exodus 18:17-26), and this same system was adopted by America’s founding fathers as the best way to maintain an ordered society through a bottom up, not top down, system. In a constitutional republic the people rule through their chosen representatives. Positioned above the leaders is the constitution. It is through the constitution the powers of the government are limited which means a majority (just 51%) cannot stamp on the God given rights of the minority. Government is in place to protect our inalienable rights.
“To walk into a voting booth and just vote on a whim, or because a friend did, or tradition, is to neglect one of the greatest responsibilities you have which is to cast a vote for the values of the kingdom of God. We cannot expect God to pour out His blessings on us as a country when He has been marginalized or dismissed from the equation. We cannot have God bless America but not have one nation under God. It’s either both or none.”
God allows us freedom to make our own laws. But God has made it clear He is the ultimate authority. People look to government for their salvation, but God warns us what happens when we put our confidence in kings. (1 Sam. 8:9-18, Judges 8:22-23). When we pass laws that go against Him, God will respond. When a majority of a culture seeks to veto Him, He reminds us He is the ultimate authority (Psalm 103:19, Daniel 4:17, 26). “God didn’t come to take sides (Democrat, Republican). He came to take over!” The greatest political statement of the Bible will be seen by all when Jesus returns, “King of Kings.” (Revelation 19:16).
My mother, a woman who in the 1950s received her Political Science degree and was on the debate team at her university (clearly a woman ahead of her time) always told me, “Rarely do you vote FOR a candidate. Usually, you vote AGAINST a candidate.” Stop looking for the perfect leader or the sinless candidate. You will not find them, because we have ALL fallen short. Which candidate, which platform, aligns with your biblical beliefs?
My prayer is, through this 4-part series, you have gained knowledge that helps you seek truth, know how to engage others on public issues, and formulate the foundation on which you stand. My goal is not to tell you what to do, or how to vote, but to give you the tools needed so you can make your own decisions based on biblical truth.
Standing up for your principles can be hard, and many times you will stand alone. In fact, God warned us “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (2 Timothy 3:12 NIV). And we will be hated. (Matthew 10:22). But do not back down to the pressures of this world. Jesus stood alone on our behalf, so we might be forgiven for our sins. He was beaten, abused, and persecuted so we would have a way back Home. When I struggle to find the will to stand for my biblical beliefs, I visualize the lonely, but strong, picture of Christ standing before Herod at His judgement, and ultimately hanging from a cross. Somehow, this gives me courage to continue marching on.
Together with you,