This week millions of people across the nation will stream to the polls to cast their votes on a variety of local, state and national races and issues. Sadly, millions of others will opt to stay home, refusing to exercise their right to vote.
Every year the outcomes of major elections are determined by a minority of voters who take the time to make it to the voting booth. Then the inactive majority proceeds to grumble about decisions made by officials they didn’t elect. I’m of the opinion that if you don’t vote, you should lose your right to complain.
But for followers of Jesus, there’s more reason for making the effort to vote than just being able to mutter and gripe in good conscience. It’s also an act of faithfulness and obedience to God.
We seem to think that government was an invention from the ever-innovative mind of mankind. However, the Bible says otherwise: “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established” (Romans 13:1). Knowing mankind’s annoying proclivity for following its own selfish, self-serving ways, God established government to create laws, maintain order and protect us from ourselves.
That being said, as citizens of a democracy in which we have – and should enjoy – the Constitutional right to vote, we should recognize this is our opportunity to participate in the governing process that God has ordained.
Interestingly, two people, even fellow believers, can look at the same candidate – or the same issue – and reach different conclusions on how to vote. And that’s okay. That’s why we cast our ballots in private. What matters is that we do vote, and hopefully do so well-informed about the candidates and issues being contested.
In fact, the same Bible passage seems to suggest participating in the governmental process by voting is more than a right; it’s an obligation. “Consequently, he who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves…. For he is God’s servant to do you good…an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience” (Romans 13:2-5).
Do you desire for your community, your state and your nation to be governed in a manner that pleases God? Then vote for the candidates and issues you believe most closely align with biblical values. Even if the outcomes aren’t as you would like, at least you’ve done what you could.
And after the election, the Scriptures teach, our responsibility doesn’t end. In fact, it’s just begun. Then, God tell us, we’re to pray. As the apostle Paul wrote, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone – for kings and all those in authority…” (1 Timothy 2:1-2). What if you don’t like the elected official? What if he or she is not aligned politically or ideologically with your personal views? God says we’re to pray anyway.
Years ago, long before the Iron Curtain fell, I knew a very godly man who prayed for each of the top leaders of the then-Soviet Union – individually, by name. At the time I questioned the wisdom of this, but then the Berlin Wall was destroyed, the iron fist of Communism in Eastern Europe lost its grip, and millions of oppressed men, women and children received their first taste of freedom. Who’s to say my friend’s faithful prayers didn’t play a significant role in what transpired?