I’m a Christian who has the wonderful privilege to vote. Not every person on the planet has that privilege. It just feels wrong to want not to vote - like I'm disrespecting that privilege. But I think many find both candidates unsuitable for different reasons. Fortunately, the Bible is my source for helping me to know what my duty is, not as an American, but as a citizen of heaven. This is not downplaying the importance or privilege of the election, but it helps me keep all this in perspective.
In 1 Peter 2:11-17 I read what God, through Peter, told early Christians was important as they navigated their culture. Because I believe in the relevancy of God’s Word, I think it’s just as applicable today and a particularly timely help for all believers.
Peter was encouraging Christians who lived in a hostile environment. Many did not understand them, slandered them, and mistreated them. He basically reminded them that their identity was bigger than their earthly citizenship and their responsibility extended beyond earthly leaders.
First he acknowledged that they were truly “aliens and strangers” to this world. He urged them to a proper behavior, but he put their lives into a spiritual context first. A Christian’s true home is heaven, the city of God. Believers have been and will always be spiritual refugees always on the move to their real home. So, for now if we feel that we are just out of step with our American culture, we might just want to remember the reason. This is not our true home.
Second, Peter urged Christians to possess a blameless character. He pleaded with believers to be diligent in abstaining from “fleshly lusts” and to keep their “behavior excellent.” He told them to do this in spite of hostility toward them. In doing so, he said that some will ultimately give God glory because of such excellent behavior. Some people will become Christians, who were once hostile to Christianity, because God will use the undeniable good character of believers as a witness and opportunity for the Gospel. This should remind us that our greatest impact for the greatest good is not at the ballot box, but in our walk with Christ and witness to others every day. The power of the Gospel to transform lives and even culture will flow from the church house, not the White House.
Lastly, Peter instructs Christians in regards to their responsibilities to God and country. A Christian’s duty to his country involves submission and honor. God wills for believers to submit to governing authorities and to honor those in charge. Ideally, government protects the innocent and punishes those who do evil. And it’s nice when government gets this right.
This submission is given freely as an act of trust in God. We are to pray for leaders, honor, and obey as far as we possibly can without compromising obedience to God. If government demands Christians to violate the conscience concerning God, then we must answer as Peter and others did in Acts 5:29, “We must obey God rather than men.” Here, we pray for the wisdom to know when to submit to government and when to defy it in order to obey God.
Peter makes clear that the Christian’s responsibility to God is to fear and obey Him. We are to give our ultimate allegiance to God. He has the priority. He has ownership. Christians are “bondslaves of God.” Therefore, even though I have a duty to my country and the government that administers its affairs, my conscience and my ultimate allegiance is only God’s. And I must diligently protect my conscience because God is bigger than country.
So, how does this inform me as November 8th quickly approaches? Here it is: God is bigger than Hillary. God is bigger than Trump. His providence over the affairs of men is bigger. His grip on my conscience is bigger. His claim on my life is bigger.
I believe we are greatly blessed in this country. And, of course, we have problems too. However, God is bigger than America. Getting to vote is a privilege of citizenship and moral responsibility, but I don’t think it is a divine right. I think for the Christian voter the key concern should be about conscience because this is where we are truly free in Christ. Vote your conscience concerning these presidential candidates. And as you lay your head down on November 8, with that clear conscience, keep it all in perspective. Remember that God is so much bigger than your vote or whoever becomes president. God is in the process of making a people of the nations for Himself for all eternity no matter what earthly emperor, king, dictator, prime minister or president rules for a brief time in a particular place. Church, our mission is sharing the Good News and making disciples. Come January 2017, no matter who is taking the oath of office and becoming our new president, this will still be our mission. God will still be in control. And our hope will still be in Him as it always has been and always will be.