Voting As Sojourners and Exhiles


How much of our political motivation is rooted in our desire for an easy life, for familiar things, for things that are friendly to our faith? We need to search our hearts on a regular basis to be sure that we are not following after our own, human purposes and not God’s purposes.

What if God doesn’t see things the way we do?

What if God can be most effective and make the most change in the world and in people’s lives when circumstances are not favorable to the motivations and desires of Christians? What if God light shines most where darkness is greatest?

These are rhetorical questions, of course, and the answers are not often what we want them to be.

Consider how the Gospel spread in the 1st Century. Jesus told the disciples to wait for the Holy Spirit[1] and then to go. The disciples waited, but then initially they stayed. They went out into the local market places, and many people were saved, but Jesus told them to go to the ends of the earth.[2] It wasn’t until the persecution began that they were scattered[3] throughout the world spreading the gospel.

We need to be honest about the church in the United States. What we have learned to tolerate is not the Church that we see in the 1st Century, and it’s not the Church we see around the world even today. The American church is fat, slothful, petty, indulgent and anemic. Look at the places in the world where the church is growing fastest: China, Iran, the Middle East, South America, Africa. Not only is the Church growing rapidly in these other areas of the world, but God is moving in miraculous and powerful ways

What if most of our efforts to secure and protect a lifestyle for ourselves, our children and our progeny in these United States are working against the higher purposes of God in the world?

I think about these things as I consider whether to vote for Donald Trump, or a third party candidate or even Hillary Clinton? What is God doing in these United States? What is God doing in the world?

A vote for Donald Trump as the lesser of two evils may be motivated by a desire to stave off the encroachment of secular ideals into the religious heritage of this country that will likely follow a Hillary Clinton presidency. Trump has courted the religious right, not that he has any history of sensitivity to spiritual things. We are not assured that Clinton will succeed with that secular agenda, but we have no assurance that Trump means what he says.

Many people feel that a third party vote is a wasted vote. A third party vote will assure a Clinton victory (or a Trump victory depending on who you ask).

These decisions bring us to the point of searching our hearts, and seeking God, on the path that we must take as we try to be true to Jesus. Our actions are be driven by our hearts, but God will establish what He intends.[4]

What is our heart? What motivates us? What should motivate us?

We are not the only generation to face decisions like this, but we are uniquely situated in history, having freedoms to participate in the course of history by our votes in ways that most generations and most people on the earth have never enjoyed. What will we do with this opportunity?

Ultimately, God (not us) sets times and seasons; He establishes rulers and removes them; He also gives wisdom.[5] We would like to control those things, but we don’t. God is in control, and we simply need to follow Jesus.

We are to be salt and light in this dark, distasteful world.[6] We are to be different and to stand out for the Gospel. Our kingdom is God’s kingdom, which is to come.[7] His kingdom is not of this world.[8] Therefore, we are not constrained by the circumstances of this world in what we do and why we do it. We, like Abraham, are looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city whose designer and builder is God![9]

I am not going to suggest how followers of Christ should vote this November. I am suggesting that how we approach our responsibility and privilege to vote with an eye to the higher purpose of God. We should be mindful of our place in the world, which is not of the world. We should be the salt and light God has made us to be. We should be motivated by eternal things, knowing that we are only sojourners and exiles on this earth.[10]

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[1] “I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49) “[T]he Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (John 14:26) “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift the Father promised, which you have heard Me discuss.” (Acts 1:4)

[2] “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations….” (Matt. 28:19) and “[Y]ou will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

[3] Acts 11:19

[4] “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9)

[5] “It is [God] who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men and knowledge to men of understanding. It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with Him….” (Daniel 2:21-22) Jesus said to Pilate, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above.” (John 19:11) “For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” (Romans 13:1)

[6] “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew (5:13-16)

[7] “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10)

[8] “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” (John 18:36)

[9] Hebrews 11:10

[10] Peter urged us “as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.” (1Peter 2:11)

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