On Election Day, be salt and light

November 6 is Election Day in the United States. There are people who see it as just another day. It is amazing to me the disinterest on the part of a number of Christians and especially some pastors.

One of the reasons for a lack of participation is the notion that believers could jeopardize their witness to the nations if they are patriots to their own. This approach causes believers to avoid being salt and light. It may cost us the opportunity in the future to be a witness to the nations. If we lose our liberty in the U.S., we will not be able to go to the unengaged peoples of the world as easily. The liberty we enjoy in America is because Christians were a part of the formation of the Republic. Christians and non-Christians insisted on religious liberty when they began our country. The American experiment allows believers to express themselves in the public square. This freedom was not permitted in European nations and especially in non-Christian countries of the Middle and Far East. This continues to be the norm in most of the world.

Critics of political involvement like to point to Jesus as someone who did not seek to change a very oppressive government. The Apostle Paul lived under one of the cruelest rulers ever to wear the crown. He said to pray for kings and obey the law. However, the biblical ethic of civic involvement does not violate Jesus’ example or Paul’s teachings. Jesus did not come to change a political system; He came to die for our sins and resurrect to be Lord of all. Paul’s primary purpose was to advance the gospel within his context. Jesus and Paul did not directly confront many social ills. Yet it would be foolish to think that because Paul did not write explicitly against slavery that he endorsed it. Or because Jesus said to pay taxes when they were owed that he favors an oppressive redistribution of wealth. The outgrowth of individual salvation helps shape a collective culture of justice and biblical morality.

The Bible clearly teaches that God is interested in nations. He chose Abraham to start one. The Old Testament is replete with references about God’s judgment on nations for their sins. Nations can either be ethnic sub-divisions of races or geo-political groupings. Either way, God deals with nations according to how they deal with him—Psalm 9:17. To dismiss this teaching from God’s Word will bring a swift reckoning.

America is different from the nations in biblical times. We can participate in the decision making process. The people can make the choice to have moral laws that are based on biblical principles or to reject them. The Republic formed by our founding fathers was based on a Judeo-Christian foundation. By our decisions we determine how God relates to us as a geo-political entity known as a nation. Our national relationship with Israel can have an effect on our immediate future. There are critics who hold that the state of Israel now in existence isn’t the one God is speaking of in scripture. My answer is that the Jewish people who are there are still descendants of Abraham! He blesses those who bless them and curses those who curse them.

We are in a conundrum. In the presidential election we have a man who says he is a Christian yet rejects marriage’s definition as between one man and one woman. He also affirms the taking of life through abortion. The other candidate is a practicing member of a cult. As one wit quipped, “We are not electing a theologian in chief. We are electing a commander in chief.” We cannot abdicate the right to vote that has been purchased by the blood of our nation’s sons and daughters. It is not the lesser of two evils we have to choose from. As Christians, what are we to do? We must realize the ballot is to be cast for the one who will move our nation in a more biblically responsible direction.

Religious liberty, freedom of speech, traditional marriage, abortion and many other issues are at stake in this election. Our nation’s direction will be determined for the foreseeable future. More grievously, we could move ourselves away from the favor of God. We must pray for God’s grace and mercy. Participate as a believer. Vote your biblical convictions.

Executive Director Emeritus
Jim Richards
Southern Baptists of Texas Convention
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