Sorry to bum you out, but for the next year, you're going to be hearing wall-to-wall political coverage. What the latest poll says, who won the last debate, how each election or caucus turned out, who got an endorsement, attack ads, scandals, etc, etc, etc.
Canada just had their longest election season ever. It lasted 3 months.
Most of the American political candidates announced their campaigns with over 16 months to go.
Since we're going to have to deal with this topic all over our phones and computers and televisions for the next year, it would probably be a good idea to consider how being a follower of Jesus should impact this part of our lives.
I'm going to tell you right up front that I have zero interest in telling you how to vote or who to vote for...or even that you should vote. That's all up to you. Regardless, you live in a world where this is a big topic, so ignoring it would only serve to put you out of touch with those whom you are supposed to be influencing toward a relationship with God.
Here are three things to consider as you prepare for this next year so that your influence in the lives of other people will not be compromised by the arguing and insulting that has accompanied these lengthy election cycles in recent years.
1. Stop making it about 'us' versus 'them.
Listen, the 'other side' is not comprised of homicidal lunatics who wake up every morning deciding how to ruin your life and the country you live in.
'They' are made in the image of God, just like you. Peter, one of Jesus' core followers, actually said, "I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism" after he met a non-Jew who God clearly loved.
Before you ever take a stand on an issue, you need to make sure you genuinely care for the person (or people) who you disagree with.
Paul spends a long time in the letter to the Corinthian church reminding us that anything you do without having love for other people is not very helpful.
Vote however you want, but you better be sure that you're doing it out of love.
2.Jesus always valued people over political issues.
When Jesus lived in ancient Israel, there were a lot of political issues which were affecting relationships between people. For instance, the people who lived in Samaria were considered inferior to Israelites. Women were considered inferior to men.
Yet Jesus shocked his disciples by showing genuine care and respect for a Samaritan woman as he passed by one of their villages.
He also made a Samaritan man the hero of a story over a some archetypal religious heroes.
Jesus refused to condemn a woman caught in the act of a crime, instead showing her compassion, despite clear black and white instructions from the law.
Now, you may look at these examples and say that they were not political, but religious in nature. Keep in mind that religion and politics were very tightly connected in the time of Jesus. Also keep in mind that they aren't so disconnected today.
3. Eschatology trumps nationalism
Let's bottom line this: when God's kingdom fully arrived on this earth, there will not be a Republican section and a Democratic section. Heck, there won't be an American section.
There will only be one section: people who have been redeemed by God's great love and sacrifice.
When Jesus says not to worry about tomorrow, but rather to focus on things you can control today, I think it includes politics.
Will a certain person getting elected or not getting elected prevent any of us from being obedient and faithful followers of Jesus?
Even if you believe that some elected official will be hostile to your beliefs, would that not place you closer in line with the example of our saviour, who responded to great persecution and injustice not with protests or uprisings or anger; but rather with great love and sacrifice?
We are both in this world and not of this world.
We can not allow our present to determine our future, but rather we must allow our future to determine our present.
Jesus will make all things new and set all the wrongs to right.
We must keep that perspective as we engage in the politics on one of the roughly 200 countries on the earth, all of which are loved by God and called to experience and accept and apply the redemption and resurrection of Jesus.
This will not happen through any leader, political, religious or otherwise. It will happen among individuals who are called to become part of the Body of Christ which is not limited by time or geographic borders.
Let your love for others and faith in God be the first foot forward as you fulfill your role as an ambassador for Christ to influence everyone you encounter on a daily basis regardless of who they support in the political world.