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
This is a big election year in our country and politics will be the center of most discussions for the next few weeks, like it or not. I appreciate the sincere people who feel called to the political arena, whether it is a local school board election, representing their neighborhood on the city council or finding the courage to run for a statewide or national election. Politics are important and so are the politicians who inevitably win these contests.
Politicians are primarily representative voices, elected because they best reflect the opinions of the majority. Once elected, they can lead through skillful collaboration and consensus, but personal convictions often have to be compromised to line up with the plurality of voters. That is the very essence of democracy.
The most successful politicians seem to be marketing geniuses, able to harness public opinions into empowered coalitions who keep them in political power. Again, I am not disparaging this call into the public arena, but I suspect many of us have over-estimated the abilities of our political leaders to lead, when they are more prone to react.
That is why we should pray for those who choose to run, and more importantly, for those who are elected. We should ask God to give them wise counselors who will keep them centered on sacred truths. We should pray for politicians to have private, personal convictions that are anchored in Scripture and those beliefs would not be be compromised when they are faced with the inevitable pressures of their office.
We should pray for these men and women to not forget they are called to serve the common good and not their personal ambitions. We should pray for all politicians to know when it is time to graciously exit the public arena. We should pray for their hearts to remain at peace even when they are falsely accused or being lured into contentious and factious arguments that lead to partisan divide, instead of wise solutions.
We should be prophetic voices to all leaders in all parties. The church has always defended the weak in the face of tyranny and stood up for those who deserve justice, especially those who have been silenced by racism or discrimination. Remember, many voters have witnessed and lived in a different America than us. They have valid political views that may not line with up with ours. This is a time for conversations, for listening and not for bullying or intimidating people who disagree with us.
We have the right and privilege of voting. We should never sit on the sidelines and not participate. We can be a faithful witness with our vote if we pray, discern and humbly voice our opinions through the ballot box. Our eschatology compels us to act right now and not sit still, waiting on a rescue. We are active participants, and trusted ambassadors, empowered by the Holy Spirit.
Finally, we are commanded to pray for those in authority, even those who did not get our vote. Keep a Christlike attitude before, during and after the election. Let’s be civil in our dialogue and gracious with our opinions. Politics are important, but not fundamental for our hope.