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by Rev. Rod Reed September 26, 2016
“This election seems different” - a commonly used phrase in conversations regarding this election. It’s being said on social media, in coffee shops, and on every news channel. I even heard it this morning at my auto mechanic’s shop.
Now, every election is unique, but it seems like this election is causing people to ask different kinds of questions. The most obvious is that of who will be president, but there are others asking about the whole political process and their involvement in it. And, while who is definitely important, we must ask ourselves if the how might be even more significant.
Specifically, God calls Christians to consider not only what candidate they will vote for, but also what our actions communicate about Jesus. In other words, “What will people think about Jesus based on what we say and do in this election season?”
This is a more thought-provoking question to ask, because it shifts the focus from what a particular candidate’s position is to how Christians reflect the love of Jesus in the election process. The what question is really important; our next president will influence many issues in our country and around the world, and we encourage Christians to prayerfully consider how to vote in this election. The how question is also important because how we act reflects as much on Jesus as what we fight for. In fact, it may be that we have unique opportunities to show the love of Jesus in different ways by being careful with how we act as we discuss our candidates.
When people see Christians do the things of God in ways that reflect the character of Jesus, it becomes easier for them to see Jesus clearly and hear his message of love and grace for the world. However, the message of grace is clouded if we act ungraciously. Similarly, it is difficult to demonstrate the love of God, if we don’t love his people (even if the candidate we hope doesn’t get elected). This type of grace and love doesn’t happen often in our culture, and when Christians act in ways that reflect Jesus in this way, our world takes notice. They see a different way of living.
God speaks to this different way in Isaiah 55:8-9. As He tries to comfort His people who are experiencing difficult times, He says these words:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”’
These verses remind us of how great our God is, and how different His ways are from ours. Because He wants us to live in a way that reflects His character, He is concerned with what we think and with how we act. We see this in Jesus’ prayer for us in John 17. As He sends us into the world to represent Him, He reminds us that we are not of this world. In other words, He calls us to walk in God’s ways and not the world’s ways. That is often easier said than done! And so, we recognize our need for prayerful reflection and humility as we represent Him in our words and actions this election season. As we seek His will for our vote, may we also carefully consider this question as we participate in the political process this year: “How are we representing Jesus?”
Rev. Rod Reed is the university chaplain at John Brown University. He leads the university’s Office of Christian Formation in developing programs and processes that help students grow spiritually. He and his wife Michelle have four children, two of whom are students at JBU.
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