4 Encouragements for Christians This Election Cycle

4 Encouragements for Christians This Election Cycle

Since the start of this year only a couple of weeks ago, I knew the 2024 presidential election would loom large. But, somewhat naïvely I suppose, I had imagined that things wouldn’t start ramping up for at least another couple of months.  

But following Donald Trump’s decisive victory at the Iowa Caucus on Monday, my newsfeed has been ablaze with campaign news. While Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley continue to hold on to their hopes (at least at the time of this writing), Trump appears to be the presumptive Republican nominee as we barrel toward a rematch of 2020.

For the first time in most of our lifetimes, American voters will be asked to choose between two men who have already served as president for one term. 

It almost sounds exciting until you consider that both presidents have had average approval ratings in the low 40s—meaning that a majority of Americans don’t actually want either candidate. And so the impulse to vote for one will mostly be a result of hatred of the other.

In the coming months, campaign rhetoric will only heat up. At certain points, it might even boil over. 

For Christians, we must remember that while it is important to steward our franchise in this election, it’s even more important that we steward our witness—as well as our own wellness. 

With that in mind, here are four encouragements for Christians this election cycle.

1. Brace Yourself for a Politically Volatile Year. 

Every election cycle carries a certain amount of volatility. Rhetoric is amped up. People get impassioned. Candidates make their pleas and cast their vision for the country. 

But we would be foolish not to recognize that the 2024 election is likely to be particularly convulsive. If 2020 was any indication, the rematch between Trump and Biden promises to be vitriolic and toxic. What’s more is that it will be a very close race, and the losing side is likely to contest the results, at least to some measure. 

And again, if 2020 was any indication (the fever dream that it was), conspiracy theories and character assassinations will be a daily reality on cable news television, on social media, and even on the church patio after Sunday service. 

Collective animosity will grow so intense that it would not be surprising if some manner of political violence breaks out sometime between now and Jan. 20, 2025, when the president is inaugurated. 

I don’t say any of this to stoke cynicism or dread. Rather, it is my heart that Christians would look ahead to the coming months with a clear-eyed sense of reality.

When I was about five years old, I broke my arm in two places after a glorious jump off of a playground swing. I was actually lucky to not suffer a compound fracture. Fortunately, my nimble, kindergartener flesh stretched around my now-contorted forearm. 

When I got to the hospital, the doctor told me that the bone would need to be set back in place. 

“You may feel some discomfort,” he said. 

He lied. As he wrestled my arm back into place, it wasn’t uncomfortable. It freakin’ hurt! I wished he would have just told me that from the beginning. 

Sometimes a sober look at the reality of a situation is enough to strengthen our resolve in responding to it in a way that is healthy and holy.

Don’t let this election cycle catch you off guard. Before things completely ramp up, decide now the kind of witness you want to have in the midst of the chaos and toxicity. Resolve now not to get caught up in the madness that is sure to come. 

2. Don’t Let National Politics Stress You out More Than They Should.

To be sure, this year is going to present some political absurdities. You are going to see things that are genuinely outrageous. You will hear rhetoric that makes your skin crawl. You will grow frustrated with party platforms that promote so many things that you see as antithetical to the flourishing of our nation according to God’s design.

That will happen. 

But be honest: How substantially different has your life been under a Biden presidency than it was during the Trump administration? Sure, some policies have changed, some executive orders have been different. But by and large, your day-to-day existence has likely not been drastically altered by national politics in the past four years, and it is not likely to be drastically altered in the next four—regardless of who is in the White House. 

That isn’t to say that national politics are altogether unimportant. Some of the issues upon which we vote and for which we elect representatives are highly consequential. At the same time, all the talk of every election being “the most important election of our lifetime” is more campaign rhetoric than substantive truth. 

Keep things in perspective. Elections are important. But they aren’t the end all or be all of our collective existence.

3. Refuse To Demonize People Who Disagree With You.

In any democratic system, disagreements—even robust disagreements—are healthy. But demonization of those who disagree with you is not. 

For the better part of a decade, think piece after think piece has been penned in an attempt to explain why so many white evangelicals continue to support a candidate whose personal and public conduct appears to be so at odds with the values they say they cherish most. On the other side of things, many Christians have been baffled at the idea that anyone in their midst would support a candidate who is considered by many to be “the most pro-abortion president in American history.” 

But the fact of the matter is that the situation is complicated. And many Christian voters will arrive at conclusions about who to vote for that are convictional and well reasoned—and completely opposite of one another. 

It’s important to be curious enough to try to understand where our fellow Christians and fellow Americans are coming from. But the fact of the matter is that you don’t have to fully understand, let alone agree with, those on the other side of the aisle in order to continue to treat them as fellow humans created in the image of God. 

In the height of disagreement, remain resolute in your refusal to demonize people who disagree with your political stances. Always remember: There is no “us” versus “them.” There is only “us.” Choose to assume the best of others’ intentions, just as you would have them assume the best of yours.

I can appreciate that this isn’t a small ask, especially when someone demonizes you first—whether directly, to your face, or indirectly, through passing comments or online posts. 

I was bullied a fair bit as a kid. For better or for worse, I was counseled never to throw the first punch. But if a fight was inevitable, I had better make sure I threw the last. 

The way of Jesus is never to throw a punch at all. 

As Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also” (Matthew 5:38-39).

Unfortunately, this ethic is often viewed as quaint and naïve—not only in American society, but within the church as well. This election cycle, choose to be countercultural in the way that you remain committed to loving others, even if they are determined to hate you.

4. Pursue the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness in Your Neighborhood

Given how fraught our elections can be, it would be easy for Christians to assume that the most godly response is to withdraw from politics entirely. 

Nevertheless, the gospel message is inherently political. It just doesn’t have much to say about the president of the United States. 

We proclaim the rule and reign of a king whose authority supersedes any earthly authority and whose dominion is the whole of earthly creation. The Kingdom of God knows no term limits or checks on its power.

This is why Roman emperors persecuted and murdered the earliest Christians for declaring, “Christ is Lord.” Jesus himself said that the gates of hell would not prevail against the church. This is political language. It’s military language. It is the language of conquest. 

And, at the same time, it is not violent. It is not coercive. It sanctions no manifest destiny or doctrine of discovery. Instead, it is marked by a kindness and a love that is powerful enough to transform the very empire that was persecuting it. 

If we want to make a real impact, this is the type of political vision we must cultivate. And it begins not on the national level, but within our own homes. In our own neighborhoods. 

What can you participate in this year that would seek the good of others, even at the cost of your own comfort or security? Needs exist, right within your own backyard. Be about the work of filling them. While everyone is fighting with others, fight for others.

Our flourishing as a people is not found on the other side of a fight for control of the levers of political power. Our flourishing is found on the other side of a fight to always seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, that all other things might be added to us. 


This Post Has One Comment

  1. Ronald

    That’s ok I only vote for non politicians

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