H W J V: How Would Jesus Vote?

October 3, 2000
Published at Missouri League, Spintech, and Free Republic.

HWJV. This is not an eye exam. It is an acronym for "How Would Jesus Vote?" HWJV is a paraphrase of the WWJD, or "What Would Jesus Do?", movement. WWJD is based on the premise that if we ask ourselves this question whenever we make a decision, and then act as Jesus would act, the world would be a better place.

I am sufficiently out of the Generation X cultural swim to know much about the WWJD movement. However, its premise should guide us as we near Election Day. I am not going to tell you how to vote (although you certainly should vote), or how Jesus would vote. Jesus had no political agenda. He was not a left-winger or a right-winger. It is fashionable during election season for candidates to claim that God is on their side, and to question the spiritual sincerity of anyone who disagrees with them or their party. This trivializes Christianity.

I am convinced that most Christians are not passionate about politics. This is not to condemn them, as God calls each of us to different tasks. Political involvement, like missionary work or singing in the choir, is not for everyone. However, even the most apolitical Christian no doubt wants good schools, safe streets, and economic prosperity. He wonders why poverty, racism, war, abortion, illiteracy, crime, drug abuse, pornography and numerous other social ills exist.

We want rest for our souls. We want to know that everything is going to be all right.However, if Scripture promises anything, everything will not be all right. God never promises utopia. As Jesus tells the apostles: "All men will hate you because of Me" (Matthew 10:22). We are fools to believe otherwise. Jesus calls us to be light in a world of darkness and salt in a world of decay. He calls us a "shining city on a hill." He never promises that our society will merit this description (Matthew 5:13-16). If anyone deserved ideal surroundings, it was Jesus. Consider His lot in life.

Defenders of communism tell us it would work if we would just put the right people in charge. Sadly, many Christians believe we can restore a Christian America if we only put enough Christians in charge. They tell us that if we just elect enough Christians, and fine-tune things just precisely, we will arrive at some kind of ideal society. This is unscriptural hogwash. The Bible never promises that we can vote, tax, spend, censor, legislate, litigate, regulate, confiscate and incarcerate our way into utopia.

Either man is in charge or God is in charge. If man is in charge, he will at some point write God out of the picture. Give man too much power and he will cease to acknowledge any authority higher than himself. This explains why rogue governments persecute Christians. Our citizenship is elsewhere (Philippians 3:20). The call to submit to authority (I Peter 2:13) does not instruct us to put earthly rulers as our final authority. When God's laws conflict with man's laws, we are to obey God's laws (Acts 5:28-29).

America's founders believed, in Jefferson's words, that "government (was) at best a necessary evil and at worst an intolerable one." The Constitution they authored limits the central government to a few specifically defined tasks. It does not give us rights. Rather, it guarantees rights given to us by God. Consistent with the Bible, the Constitution does not promise a Christian society or a perfect society. Rather it ordains a free society.

Life will never measure up to our desires. However, working to bring about an ideal society is not nearly as important as living in accordance with God's call for our lives. Only in a free society can Christians ask God what to do in a particular situation, hear His answer, and then carry out this answer without having to ask permission. We act as if this principle only applied to what happens in church, and to such things as school prayer. However, Christianity must guide us in all aspects of life.

God gives us the right to run our families, our businesses, and our private organizations, as well as to defend ourselves, educate our children and nurse ourselves from sickness to health as we see fit without having to seek the blessing of the secular authorities. Our current form of government (which came into being long before 1993 and will not go away anytime soon) militates against all these rights. It injects politics into countless areas where neither God nor America's founders intended politics to be a factor.

Your guys may win or your guys may lose on November 7. While it is important to vote, and to pray about how to vote, Christians have a far more important electoral responsibility. We have a King whose Kingdom "is not of this earth" (John 18:36). His is the only Kingdom where we can elect a king, and where every day is election day. We have a daily choice as to who will run our lives. We must choose daily to place Jesus on the throne of our lives, regardless of our political circumstances.

Unlike earthly kings, Jesus will not force Himself upon us. The fruits of the spirit (Galatians 5:22) are the result of the a daily voluntary walk with God. The power of this walk to change our lives is "sharper than any double-edged sword" (Hebrews 4:13). This sword is infinitely more powerful than any that could ever be wielded by the state. Just as Scripture tells Christians to recognize people by their fruit (Matthew 7:15-20), the world will likewise recognize us by our fruit. They are watching our every action, and ruthlessly analyzing our examples. They hold us to a much higher standard than they hold themselves. Why shouldn't they? After all, we claim to have a direct relationship with the King of the universe.

Many will rejoice when we stumble. However, many will be drawn to Christ by the power of our examples. While these examples may be imperfect, many secular folk will conclude that these Christians really do have something that they don't. As a result, they will draw closer to Christ. All the while, Jesus stands outside their doors knocking. He will only enter when invited (Revelation 3:20). They will invite Him in God's time, not ours.

This is how the cause of Christ is spread. This is how we must work if we really want a better America. In the days leading up to the birth of Christ, many awaited a grand entrance by a political savior. Instead, God gave them a helpless baby born to a peasant girl in a stable in an obscure village. Yet from the beginning, the rulers of the earth felt very threatened by this child (Matthew 2:13).

The message is clear. Just as you build the foundation of a house before you build the roof, building the kind of society we say we want is a grassroots proposition. The real work involves getting plenty of dirt under our fingernails and taking more than a few hockey pucks in the mouth. The bad news is that there is no worldly glamour to it. The impending election will not change you as a person or me as a person. Effecting change within ourselves is something that only comes from an abiding faith in the redemptive blood of Jesus. This is a universal call to Christians, regardless of political persuasion. The good news is that this comes from a vote you can cast any day.

Freely Speaking: Speeches and Essays by Doug Newman

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