Immigration. Terrorism and war. Welfare and entitlements. Abortion. The economy. Crime. Drug legalization. Gay marriage. These topics dominate conversations and the airwaves. Yep, another election year. And I'm sure you're eagerly awaiting my input on how you should vote...not. But I will anyway, because how we vote expresses and influences our closeness to the heart of God.
However, let's go deeper than specific positions on the above issues. You see, we vote our values, whether their source is biblical, or secular, or progressive, or traditional, or popular culture. All voters follow their values, and that's the foundation of American democracy. But let me suggest that for followers of Jesus, we have one dominant value that should drive how we approach specific issues. We need to reflect God's heart for people, all people, and particularly for the disadvantaged and voiceless. If you're not a follower right now, don't worry; I have no desire, ever, to push a theocracy down your throat. This is family business. Not Democratic nor Republican nor Libertarian nor Socialist nor Independent.
The essence of faithfully following Jesus is developing the heart of God. Several chapters in Exodus reveal what moves God, therefore, what should move us.
God revealed ten foundational principles for his people, in Exodus 20. Just ten. But then he clarified and defined them in following chapters. Those expansions run into the hundreds, but basically God told us how to love him and how to love one another. For most of us that's not natural, so we need some insight. God gets specific on how to show love. Yes, these relate to the above issues, but I'll leave the specific application to you. So, how do we show love? I'll briefly mention five areas, please explore them more on your own.
1. The unborn. "Now suppose two men are fighting, and in the process they accidentally strike a pregnant woman so she gives birth prematurely. If no further injury results, the man who struck the woman must pay the amount of compensation the woman’s husband demands and the judges approve. But if there is further injury, the punishment must match the injury: a life for a life..." (Exodus 21:22-23). God sees the unborn as human life, and very simply, his followers should as well.
2. Foreigners. "Do not mistreat an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in Egypt" (Exodus 22:21). Build a wall or keep out all Muslims or let all in? God gives value to aliens, and whatever position we choose needs to share that same value.
3. Single moms and orphans. "You must not exploit a widow or an orphan. If you exploit them in any way and they cry out to me, then I will certainly hear their cry. My anger will blaze against you, and I will kill you with the sword. Then your wives will be widows and your children fatherless" (Exodus 22:22-24). God cares deeply about single mothers and children, and our political beliefs on issues such as welfare need to share God's heart.
4. The poor. "If you lend money to any of my people who are in need, do not charge interest as a money lender would. If you take your neighbor’s cloak as security for a loan, you must return it before sunset. This coat may be the only blanket your neighbor has. How can a person sleep without it? If you do not return it and your neighbor cries out to me for help, then I will hear, for I am merciful" (Exodus 22:25-27). Did you get how God describes the poor? "My people." He loves them. So should we. My main concern here is not the position you take, just that you express God's love.
5. Politicians. "You must not dishonor God or curse any of your rulers" (Exodus 22:28). Ouch. OK, disagree with them. Express it. Vote them out. But respect and value them, don't slander them, because God links that to dishonoring him. Paul said governmental rulers, even when evil, are God's servants to preserve order (Check out Romans 13:1-7 if you have the courage).
As I said above, I'm not so concerned with the position you end up with on these topics as much as that we all express the heart of God, his love for all people, particularly the disadvantaged and disliked. The more we do that, the closer we get to God's heart. And that's good.
Kick Starting the Application
Spend a moment or two identifying your take on some of these issues. Very honestly, do you express God's love in that? And, do you express that intentionally and rationally? Can you find some areas you need to change to better show God's heart?