Vote with prayer, clear conscience, trusting God above all

No, I’m not going to tell you for whom you should vote. Sorry! But I can stand with firm footing in the Scriptures and tell you how you should vote in the election on Nov. 8.

First principle: You should vote. I’m assuming you are a citizen of the United States. If you are not, you should vote in your country’s elections.

There are many scenes, miracles and parables included in only one of the four Gospels. However, there is one account that appears in all three of the Synoptics (Matthew, Mark and Luke): the story of Jesus and the coin. Jesus is asked a question meant to trap him and discredit him: Should Jews pay taxes to Caesar?

Jesus responds by asking to see a denarius, a coin worth one day’s wage in the Roman Empire. He asks whose picture is on the coin — the answer is Caesar’s. Jesus’ famous reply: “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

Jesus’ point was that God has a kingdom and Caesar (human government) has a kingdom. We live in both of them at the same time and have responsibilities to both of them. When they come into conflict, Christians follow God, rather than man (Acts 5:29).

You and I have the amazing privilege and responsibility as “We the People” to go to the voting booth and mark in a circle next to a name. I don’t care if you skip a name or write in a name or mark one already printed on the page; but please, live as a responsible citizen. It’s what Jesus would do.

Second principle: You should vote your conscience. Sometimes we can vote for a candidate with a clear conscience. He or she represents our values well — what we think will help our country remain free, prosperous and virtuous.

Other times, we are conflicted because a candidate may only partly reflect our values. The best advice I can give is from Romans 14:23: “Whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” In other words, if in doubt, don’t. If your conscience is fighting against you, don’t sin against your conscience. That doesn’t mean that you have to have total agreement with every detail of a candidate’s platform, but it should mean that in the most important and deeply-held values, you have unity with that candidate and can vote with a clear conscience.

Third principle: You should pray for this election and its candidates. The Scriptures make crystal-clear that Christians have an obligation and a vested interest in praying for their rulers (or potential rulers).

The Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy: “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:1-4).

So pray, Christians, pray for these candidates up and down the ballot and in all political parties. This pleases your Father in Heaven.

Fourth principle: If your candidates aren’t elected, don’t despair; the world is not coming to an end. Each election cycle raises the hysterics in both major parties as if the election has apocalyptic implications. Rubbish!

Christians know better than to cry “the sky is falling!” if things don’t go their way. Why? Because God sits on a throne and is in control, even over corrupt leaders. Consider Proverbs 21:1: “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.” And Daniel 2:20-21 reads, “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might … he removes kings and sets up kings.” And again, Paul lays it out so clearly in Romans 13:1-2: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.”

Don’t forget: For Paul, the “authorities” meant the Roman Emperor Nero, who would eventually execute him in Rome.

Christians, God sits on a throne that is above every other “throne,” even the one in the Oval Office. Don’t worry. Don’t despair. Don’t rant. Just vote your conscience before God and leave it to Him.

Brian McCrorie is senior pastor of Heather Hills Baptist Church in Cumberland. This weekly column is written by local clergy members.