The General Election is fast approaching. The party leaders and candidates are on the campaign trail. The manifestos have been released. Hustings are happening up and down the country. Pollsters and pundits are queuing up for air time. And David Dimbleby is back from election retirement to present the BBC’s coverage of the results (he’s done every General Election since 1979).
We’ve been given the opportunity again to elect our representatives in Westminster and I know it might sound controversial but here are three ways I suggest we exercise that vote:
- With prayer:
Paul exhorts Timothy to encourage the churches to pray prayers of both thanks and petition for those in authority over us: ‘I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.’ (1 Timothy 2:1-2)
So let’s prepare to vote on June 8th prayerfully, remembering that:
- Each candidate and party leader is made in God’s image. God’s equipped them with the skills and abilities to be selected as candidates for their local parties. Each no doubt will be advocating policies which would have huge benefits for the country or their constituents if elected. So, let’s thank God for each of our candidates and party leaders.
- However, each of the candidates are sinners, in need of God’s grace. And as a result of that they will also be advocating policies which will have negative effects on their constituents through their fallibility, imperfection or moral failing. So, let’s pray for each of our candidates and the party leaders. Pray that if they have not already done so they each recognise their need for Jesus as their Saviour and Lord. And pray that they choose to campaign on policies which allow all of us to live ‘peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.’
- Simon and I went to the Streatham Hustings on Thursday night and one take home message for me was just how much I would dread to be in the candidates’ shoes and spend my days being grilled on policy by the public. Running for election or leading a party is not easy, so let’s pray for them: that God equips them to campaign, lead and govern well.
- With Christian conviction
Here are three ways that none of us should vote:
- The traditional vote – ‘I am voting for X because I always vote for that party’
- The selfish vote – ‘I am voting for X because I think their policies are best for me’
- The confused vote – ‘I am voting for X but I can’t clearly explain why’
So, here’s a suggestion for a fourth way: the Christian vote – ‘As a Christian I am voting for X’
Again, that might sound controversial but here’s what I mean:
That might mean you say ‘As a Christian I am going to stay at home or spoil my ballot because I can’t conscionably support a party or candidate’ This isn’t the same as the confused or lazy vote. If you’ve thought through the issues, prayed about it, and you aren’t settled in your conscience about voting for any of the parties or candidates then this is definitely the best course of action.
To say ‘As a Christian I am going to vote for X’ means you need to get to know the issues. Download the party manifestos and read them. Attend a hustings if you get a chance. The Christian Institute has compiled a list of the key sections from the manifesto of each party on a wide range of issues which is worth checking out here.
To say ‘As a Christian I am going to vote for X’ doesn’t mean there is necessarily a clear Christian choice. One person might think through the issues and conclude ‘As a Christian I am going to vote for X because I think their policies for the economy align best with biblical principles.’ Another might say ‘As a Christian I am going to vote for a different party because their position on ethical issues aligns better with biblical principles.’ And a third might weigh up both and choose to vote tactically.
Let’s expect that in a congregation like ours many of us will vote in different ways. And let’s rejoice that our unity is in Christ and not in party politics. In the end, what will honour God most: the Christian who weighs up the issues carefully and prayerfully and chooses to vote for a different candidate than you did? Or the Christian who didn’t bother thinking about the issues, who didn’t pray, but voted for the same person as you?
- With perspective
[Insert name of favourite political leader or candidate here] is not the Messiah. They can’t handle, and shouldn’t be expected to be, the ultimate hope for our nation. They won’t bring heaven on earth. They aren’t Jesus.
And on the other hand, no politician will be able to achieve even 1 mm of progress in stopping the advance of the gospel. So if the leader you dread most is elected, don’t despair. Christ is still Lord and the gospel is still being proclaimed to the ends of the earth.
So let’s praise God that He is in control. Let’s remember that however things turn out on 8th June Jesus is still reigning at his right hand. And let’s look forward to the day we were thinking about in KG last Wednesday when:
‘At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.’ Mark 13:26-27
Let’s rejoice that our hope is that Day, where we will live as His people, under His perfect government, in His new creation.