It’s hard to believe it’s not until next November that we elect a new president. Already, there is so much political mudslinging and endless news coverage that the election feels only days away, rather than months. I remember feeling equally exhausted leading up to the last presidential election cycle, and I’m sure you did too (particular if you live in a swing state, like Virginia was last go-round!).
However, before you completely check out from the political circus, you might want to reconsider, or at least thoughtfully think about how to engage in this election cycle. Daniel Darling writes about this in his trending article over at RelevantMagazine.com. I encourage you to check out his piece in full as it has a lot of helpful advice for navigating all the election noise.
Here are 5 ways Darling suggests Christians should engage in the upcoming election:
1. Have reasonable expectations. This means being neither utopian nor too cynical about what can be done through politics and our political leaders. God can use politics to accomplish good in the world, Darling writes, but reasonable expectations are key.
2. Consider issues that affect human dignity and flourishing. Christians have been increasingly vocal in recent months about the issue of abortion, and for good reason. But are we as equally brokenhearted over other issues of human dignity and flourishing, such as the recent refugee crisis happening overseas? Darling asks us to consider: “Which candidate champions human dignity—for the unborn, for the trafficked, for the impoverished and for the marginalized?”
3. Examine the deeper character of the men and women running. “We should avoid latching onto sound bites and catch phrases,” writes Darling. Instead, we should make sober analysis of each candidate, from his or her full body of work.
Related, Russell Moore writes this about the need for Christians to go deeper when analyzing the character of our leaders. “The church of Jesus Christ ought to be the last people to fall for hucksters and demagogues. After all, the church bears the Spirit of God, who gifts the Body with discernment and wisdom. But too often we do. We receive celebrities simply because they are “conservative,” without asking what they are conserving.”
4. Behave like Christ. There is a place for outrage at injustice, notes Darling, but he cautions us to attack the issues, not the candidates. The same goes for our friends and neighbors who might not agree with us on every point. Darling writes, “We should strive to say and do everything under the influence of the Holy Spirit, remembering that because we are ultimately victors (Romans 8), we don’t have to resort to defensiveness, nastiness and anger.”
5. Be grateful for our political freedom. It’s easy to get angry, cynical and wearied by politics. But as Darling reminds us, “partisanship is the complaint of the privileged.”
As a friend of mine recently wrote, “the beauty and the hard part of American politics is that we get to choose our leaders, whether they will lead us, or not, whether they can, or not.”
There’s a lot of time between now and next November—let’s choose to prayerfully and thoughtfully consider who we will vote for, and give over our anxieties about our country’s future to a God who is ultimately in control.
Kelly Givens is the editor of iBelieve.com.