10 Steps to a Better Political Season

Posted on 3 Oct 2012 in Breathe, Reveal | 0 comments

Dear friends,

Wordle: Declaration of IndependenceThis letter is primarily addressed to those of my friends who consider themselves biblical Jesus-followers. So if that’s not you, feel free to read or pass this along, but I’m pretty aware that the laws of proper societal etiquette don’t hold you to these statements. That being said, I think that there are some principles in here that apply across the board – “don’t be a jerk” being one of them. But, however, if you do consider yourselves in that category, can I ask you to get to the end before commenting or ranting or otherwise going a bit elemental here?
As a Christian, I am significantly concerned with the way that the Church (big C, universal) in the United States is handling political dialogue. With the election coming up, more and more Christians are beginning to play the world’s game of political dialogue, which is “If I can yell louder and talk nastier about the political candidates, I might make someone angry enough so that they don’t vote for their guy.”*
I’m going to ask some difficult questions, go through some deep thoughts I’ve had recently about what the New Testament text has to say about authority and the way we are to behave, and offer some practical steps for the church in the coming month.
In general, there are about three times as many mentions of the word “love”(or compassion, gentleness, kindness) as there are mentions of concepts regarding “truth.” We as the Church have become far more concerned with loving to speak the truth than we have been with speaking the truth in love.
The next time you question or argue with someone about their political choices (and in this I’m talking to both sides), I encourage you to ask them afterwards “Do you feel loved right now?”

It should be our absolute checkpoint. Our bottom line.

Feel free to skip down to the “10 Steps” practical part, but I encourage you to read it all when you have time.


Have you dishonoured or disrespected our current or future leadership (either Republican or Democrat – or third parties), including calling them shady, dodgy, a liar, questioning their faith, etc (Hebrews 13:15-17; 1 Tim 2:1-3; 1 Peter 2:12-17; Romans 13:1-7)?
If you have, have you repented or asked forgiveness – especially from the person that you were ‘debating’ with?
Have your ‘debates’ been more arguments? Have they respected and honoured the people you are conversing with or do they make them angry?
How often does your rhetoric or behaviour glorify God among your non-believer friends (Mt 5:16, 1 Peter 2:12)?
How often do the people in your circles come to you and ask you how you keep such a gracious and compassionate stance during these volatile times (2 Cor 5:16-22)?
How often do they remark that you stand out for your love? (John 13:35, 1 John 4:7-11)?
Do they identify you as loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, or self-controlled or do they consider you hateful, disagreeable, jealous, angry, selfish, divisive, or envious (Gal 5:19-25)?
Do they remark that your mind and comments are concerned with truth, nobility, rightness, purity, loveliness, admirable qualities, excellence and praise, or are they filled with negativity, hatred and anger (Phil 4:8)?
Are you embodying compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving unconditionally (as you yourself were forgiven by God – Col 3:12-13)?


The current political climate online is, quite frankly, repellent. The rhetoric, the nastiness. Everyone is busy seeing who can shout loudest about what or who they are against, rather than talking about what they are for. All these memes or images that people are liking “There’s no way I’m voting for so-and-so because he’s a .” It’s creating and cultivating a culture of dishonour that in all honesty betrays the very Man that we have been called to follow.
Biblically, Jesus didn’t do much about His government structure. He paid his taxes (even though they were ridiculously high) without moaning or complaining that he wasn’t getting His ‘fair share.’ Consider Matthew 17:24-26. Jesus doesn’t necessarily express agreement with the tax. But He does trust His Father to provide the money for it. In Luke 20:20-26 we see a similar situation. He agrees that the money is an image of the authority of Caesar’s, so it is under Caesar’s authority. The difference being that we are in the image of God, and under God’s authority. Money, and taxes, are a blessing from God, and we are not *entitled* to our money. It is all grace. The money that we earn, we earn because of God’s goodness, God’s grace, and God’s provision. If we all were to go off this enormous blessing of an economy and grow our own food, produce our own luxury items, wouldn’t we consider everything that came from the ground a blessing? We can’t *force* food to grow. When it came to political activism, His primary endeavors were loving the most greedy and unethical leaders into a place of humility and compassion.
Consider the tale of Zaccheus in Luke 19. Zaccheus is a tax collector, who has most likely stolen from his entire community. But he wants to see this man who is doing dramatic, life-changing things. He climbs a tree, and Jesus sees him and welcomes him. No judgment, no condemnation, no yelling at him for not doing the right things. Compassion and welcome. Note how all the religious people (v7) grumble and mutter and are so annoyed that Jesus would be compassionate and friendly to such a guy. But from this place of welcome, Zaccheus turns around and begins to enact the life of compassion and restoration that he has seen Jesus embody. Not because Jesus told him to, but because he wants to.
We often want to control political leaders and make them think like us. But more often than not, this is simply an excuse for us to embody a critical or legalistic spirit, to condemn and judge them for thinking differently. We are consistently told in the Bible (Hebrews 13:15-17; 1 Tim 2:1-3; 1 Peter 2:12-17; Romans 13:1-7) to honor and submit to our authorities. To pray for them and respect them.

10 Steps to Honoring our Authorities

Here are, I believe, some practical steps for the Church to take in the coming month. Steps that I believe will begin to recreate and cultivate a culture of honor that begins turning around the culture of dishonor and hatred that we have participated in creating the last thirty years.
1) Pray for all of the candidates. I don’t mean pray that they “come around” to your point of view. I mean pray God’s blessing and purpose for them. I mean, pray God’s heart of love, tenderness, and compassion for them. Pray that they would gain wisdom and revelation – not to see things your way, but to see them God’s way. Don’t pray your opinion, but pray that God would increase His love and presence to them, that the Spirit would be at work in their lives and hearts.
Reminder: Pray for *all* of the candidates. Please don’t limit your prayers to President Obama or Governor Romney. There are some amazing and outstanding men and women on the ballot, and in order to gain some opportunities for the underdogs (who may well be the “David” leaders we pray for) we need to see an opening in the political process. Currently the Democrat-Republican two party system makes it impossible for a candidate with limited financial resources. How do we know that the next amazing, Godly candidate isn’t in the Justice Party? Or the Libertarian Party? Or the Green Party? Pray for them by name.
2) Pray for the candidates’ families, running-mates and support teams. They are under pressure and fire as much as the candidates themselves. Learn their names, and pray for them individually.
3) Commit yourself to only speaking well of the candidates. Do not allow any unwholesome talk to come out of your mouths, but only that which is helpful for building up others according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen (Eph 4:29).
4) Be prepared to present a defense for what you believe, but with gentleness and respect. (1 Peter 3:15). Don’t talk about what you *don’t* believe, but rather be gentle, respectful, and talk about those things you believe in, and why.
5) Remember that the people you are speaking to and about are humans, made in the image of God. Dishonoring and disrespecting them is the same as dishonouring the image of God.
6) Pray about and vote for your conscience – what you believe in. Take a test to determine whether or not you really *do* fall in with the majority of your party’s platforms. And turn your vote into a YES for what you believe in rather than a “no” for what you don’t. Pray about those issues that are most important to you and ask God to reveal the best way to vote on the issues and the candidates. Consider fasting if your feelings are strong enough and you feel led to do so. Let this be an urgent call from you to God.
7) Don’t re-post or “like” or otherwise support those who use negativity, hatred, or anger to try to get their points across. Keep yourself focused on honor, love, and respect.
8) If you do disagree with someone, consider writing them a personal note or chatting in person or over the phone with them about it instead of commenting and creating firefights online. Consider them as humans and friends, not as “liberal commies” or “selfish conservatives”. Take the negativity out of the equation and encounter people with love.
9) Apologize for any negativity that you have sponsored and attempt to make amends. Repent and think differently about the way that you engage the privilege and the freedom of the right to vote this season.
10) Prayerfully submit yourself to the authorities, and reject a spirit of religiosity or entitlement. Remember that it is all grace, God’s gift to us, to live in Freedom (2 Cor 3:17).

I hope that these questions, reflections, and practical steps have been helpful for you to begin thinking biblically about the election season this year. I have every hope and faith in our Church, that as we begin living from a place of love, life, and compassion, that the world *will* begin to wonder what is happening. I believe that our character, our integrity, and our compassion will begin to transform the cultures and communities of which we are a part.
I am going to commit to these 10 principles for the remainder of the political season. If you consider yourself a biblical Jesus follower, I encourage you to pray about and pursue at least one of these tactics as well.

Leave a comment, and I promise to pray for you, too.

* Voluntary disclosure: I am voting for Dr. Jill Stein, because I learned that she stands for 84% of the things that I stand for, and that is a vote in my clear conscience, and I want to honor her with my vote for those things. I choose to vote this year based on what I believe in, rather than what I can’t stand. I refuse, however, to play the current game of “not so-and-so.” I want to honor Governor Romney as an elected official, and I want to honor President Obama as my current commander in chief. Dishonoring either of those men is, I believe, against biblical principles.