As Citizens of Two Kingdoms, It’s Time for Believers to Vote
Longtime pastor Mike Hayes sees cultural and spiritual battles raging across our land. He calls followers of God to be active and engaged in the public square.
As a champion for the local church through more than 45 years of pastoral ministry, I’m deeply disturbed at her current condition. The culture is changing the Church more than the Church is changing the world around us.
Instead of Christians being the called-out culture shapers, we’ve become assimilated culture consumers. Many do not see our place in society, including our civic responsibilities, as having spiritual importance.
Culture Shapers Or Cultural Consumers?
According to Barna, roughly 100 million Americans are considered practicing Christians.
Massive churches are being built right now in locations around the country, yet it’s rare to find a church that is moving the needle on cultural change.
If you were to go to many churches in America and interview the average member, you’d likely find most lack basic biblical understanding about the nature of God and His requirements for righteousness. Many have no idea of core biblical stories that illustrate these eternal truths — but they’ve probably binged the latest Netflix shows or spent hours consuming talk radio.
Entertainers have become our influencers, even in the Church. On matters of sexuality and marriage, the culture has moved the Church more than the Church has moved the culture. Biblical absolutes and historical norms with 5,000 years of historicity are being redefined or discarded altogether as relics of days gone by.
These are only a couple of examples. We’re building great churches but not changing the culture. In fact, we may be digressing some in our moral stands as well as faith in the veracity and reality of the Word of God.
Citizens of Two Kingdoms
Many of us pray fervently about national issues and sins, and how badly we want America to change. Indeed, we should. John Bunyan, author of The Pilgrim’s Progress, believed strongly in the power of prayer. He said, “You can do more than pray, after you have prayed. But you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed.”
We are dual citizens — of the kingdom of God, and of the United States. Our responsibilities in God’s kingdom are to pray, to love, to stand in for others, to give, to reconcile, and to support. We also have responsibilities in our earthly nation.
In the kingdom of God, the highest prerogative is that we pray. In a Constitutional republic, the highest power we have is to vote. We are a representative democracy. Our vote ensures that our values are represented in the laws and governance of our nation.
Now, I do not want to do any less than revere my spiritual fathers. But I was raised by leaders who didn’t even vote. In some cases, they actually discouraged it. They said, “Voting is a carnal exercise that means nothing in light of kingdom realities and truth. We’re trying to take people to Heaven. What’s going on in the nation is of little interest.”
Then I would read Scriptures that say, “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice…” (Proverbs 29:2). I couldn’t reconcile myself to the contradiction. Isn’t voting how we help place the righteous in authority?
God’s way in this democracy is to move through people who vote for a leader.
Running with Influence in the Public Square
We have the opportunity to elect our own leadership. So why not participate in that process?
Voting is where the process begins for believing that we can make a difference in our nation. It’s the least we can do with all the benefits this democracy provides. Yet according to Barna, born-again Christians are today the least likely to pay attention to important public policy issues — even during election years.
If there are, in fact, over 100 million Christian believers in America, the Church could be an authoritative voice for a higher way. But that won’t happen if we won’t even take 10 minutes on a Tuesday to go to a polling place!
That doesn’t mean we engage in governmental issues with the spirit of this age. I suggest we shift how we think about politics. We should resist speaking in terms that sound like the Christian faith is somehow synonymous with any party.
Kingdom responsibilities matter. So do our democratic obligations of voting, volunteering, being informed, and even running for office. Joseph de Maistre was an influential 19th century public figure who upheld the importance of faith in the public square. He wrote: “Every nation gets the government it deserves.”
It’s important to God that we exercise our civic responsibilities. As dual citizens of God’s kingdom and the United States, let us pray and vote.