Dubya vs. Algore: WWJD?
The writer is a Church of God member (since 1987) with a master's degree in history. He attends the United Church of God congregation in Ann Arbor, Mich.
By Eric V. Snow
FERNDALE, Mich.--As this issue of The Journal goes to press, America stands at the edge of a constitutional crisis resulting from the closeness of the presidential election in key states, especially Florida. According to an unofficial tally kept by the Associated Press of the recount of Florida's presidential vote (Nov. 10), Gov. George W. Bush of Texas leads his rival, Vice President Albert Gore, by a mere 327 votes (out of some six million cast).
The winner of Florida's vote will win the presidency because it provides 25 of the 270 electoral votes he needs to be elected president by the electoral college, which is to vote Dec. 18.
Further darkening the picture, it appears that the man the electoral college designates as winner (Mr. Bush, assuming his lead doesn't vanish after any more Florida counts, recounts and rerecounts) narrowly lost the popular vote.
The political crisis produced by this extremely close election should remind us in the Church of God of an old question: Should Christians vote? Should Christians get involved in political affairs in an attempt to make this a better world?
What if COG Floridians had voted?
It's sobering to consider that the presidential vote in Florida is so razor-thin that had the full adult membership of the United Church of God in Florida voted it could have thrown the election to either candidate of its choosing if it voted as a bloc.
Since enormous power can attend such a small number of votes, why should Christians stay on the sidelines?
Twice at work this past week I was challenged by others when I said I didn't vote in the November election, so I strongly suspect others reading this may have faced similar questioning.
A realistic way a Christian can judge whether his would-be actions are permissible is to ask, What would Jesus do?
The apostle John wrote: "The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked" (1 John 2:6). Hence the WWJD abbreviation found on assorted religious paraphernalia shouldn't be dismissed as a mere evangelical-Protestant fad since it has a solid basis in Scripture.
Would Jesus cast His ballot? If so, whom would He choose? Would He, who never sinned (Hebrews 7:26; 1 Peter 2:22), be willing to pick the lesser of two evils, since neither candidate, and neither party, is perfect? Can we imagine His taking sides on the myriad, contentious political issues that drive our nation's politics?
For example, would Jesus say the government should provide senior citizens with free (read taxpayer-paid) prescription drugs? Or would He stand apart from the world, proclaim a different way and point to God's Kingdom as the solution to humanity's problems?
Since most of those reading this are, like me, Americans as well as Christians, we face the fundamental challenge of trying to look at our nation as God does. We must remember that our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20), hence our national loyalty is secondary to our religious identity as ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20).
On trial for His life, Jesus told Pilate: "My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting, that I might not be delivered up to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm" (John 18:36).
If Jesus proclaimed that His followers shouldn't fight to save Him from an unjust execution because His Kingdom (His government) wasn't derived from this world (see the NASB margin), why should we be so eager to get involved in this world's politics?
Don't waste your time
We must remember that Satan deceives this world; it lies in his power (Revelation 12:9; Matthew 4:8; 1 John 5:19). Do we really think we can get involved in the world's politics without becoming contaminated by it?
Consider the behavior of the Christian Democrat and Centre (self-proclaimed Catholic) parties in Europe and Latin America amid their parliamentary maneuverings and wrangles. Do their members and leaders behave any better, any more godly, than their opponents?
We shouldn't waste our time and energies on trying to fix institutionally a Satan-controlled and dying world whose governments (including ours!) could well be thrown in the ash bin of history in a few decades by Jesus' return (see Daniel 2:34-35, 44).
We should instead proclaim to that very world God's better ways and His solutions: the Kingdom of God, which will solve all the problems human governments can't solve.
Human governments can't get rid of evil human nature, the devil's influence or the corruption of the world's deceived civilizations. But God will end them during the Millennium, which will be when human freedom can be reconciled with social control.
At that time people will willingly and freely obey laws they would find horribly oppressive if imposed today. (To name a major one, think how well seventh-day observance would go over with 99 percent of the American population.)
The deck is stacked
Fundamentally, even when politicians' differences on policy are as sharp as those between Messrs. Bush and Gore, they're still just merely rearranging the deck furniture on the Titanic. We Christians who are Americans should remember that God will punish our nation for its sins in the not-too-distant future.
© The Journal: News of the Churches of God