by Eugene Cho
The Presidential election is only weeks away…and it’s getting ugly out there. I mean…really ugly.
And before you think I’m just talking about the political process, the political parties or the respective candidates, I was actually talking about you, me, us and them…the people. And by people, I’m also especially talking about Christians.
Sometimes, I feel it would be appropriate to label how some Christians engage the presidential election season as “Christians Gone Wild.”
Since it’s time for another presidential debate and there’s sure to be drama this week and next, and the following week, and each day leading up to Election Day on Nov. 6 and likely some weeks afterward, I thought I’d share with you my 10 Commandments of the Election Season for Christians in hopes it might speak some balance, sense and perspective to any readers—not just during this election season but thereafter; not just in this country but in any country.
Why else am I sharing this?
Because I really want you to still respect yourself the morning after the election season.
Because I really want your friends to still respect you, too.
Know what I mean?
So, here are my 10 commandments of the Election Season:
1.Thou shalt believe Jesus remains King.
Saw this and it puts everything in perspective. Whoever becomes president, Jesus remains King. I’m not suggesting the elections aren’t important. They are. They always are. There is much at stake. But in truth, they’re always advertised as the most important election in human history that will change the trajectory of all things for eternity.
Everyone take a breath. Breathe in. Breathe out. Jesus will still remain King.
2. Don’t go to bed with political parties.
Yes, that’s what I wrote. Don’t go to bed.
I don’t believe followers of Jesus should be in bed with either of the two major parties. We ought to remain “Independent” with a commitment to collaborate, listen and engage the political system, all while understanding the political system is not our ultimate Hope or Answer. In addition, we must never lose the courage or conviction to speak prophetically to a group of people because we are lured by the power associated with politics or a political party.
When people ask if I am a Democrat or Republican, I often respond:
On what issue?
Let the Scriptures and our convictions about Christ inform how we engage the candidates, the political parties and the election process.
3. No one has a monopoly…
No one. No matter what they say. No matter what the experts, leaders, the Pope, Billy Graham, Joyce Meyer, Trinity Broadcasting or whoever say. No party or candidate has a monopoly on morality, spirituality and certainly not the Kingdom of God
The Kingdom of God cannot be contained by our political parties or religious institutions. Nope. And thanks be to God for that!
Furthermore, we have to leave room—and plenty of room—to acknowledge people (including our very own friends) can have differing views, so please respect the integrity of other believers as they seek to live out and vote their convictions and conscience.
Enough with the statements and judgments resembling anything like this:
“How can you as a Christian vote for…”
“If you were a true Christian, you would vote for…”
Jesus died and extended grace for the Left, the Right and everyone in between. So, stop vilifying and demonizing those who disagree with you.
4. Remain in friendship and fellowship.
Yes. Yes. Yes.
There is neither Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female, Republican or Democrat, but we are one in Christ Jesus.
Remain in friendship and fellowship.
As Christians, we need to agree the most significant aspects of our relationship are not our politics, our political views or our political affiliations but that we are connected together as brothers and sisters in Christ. Politics has its role. But Christ is the most significant aspect of our community.
5. Thou shalt not be a jerk.
Especially during the election season, please be human. Please don’t be a jerk.
For goodness’ sake, be civil. What do you not understand?
Be civil with one another.
Be civil with those you disagree with.
And please be respectful for the political candidates.
I repeat: Be human. Don’t be a jerk.
6. Thou shalt respect the candidates.
Read #5 again. I’ll wait for you.
Listen. Speaking about the respective candidates on the interwebs does not give you license to be a Ph.D in Jerk-ism and to be disrespectful. I’m talking about your snide comments, your asinine Photoshops, your comparisons to Hitler, your fill in the blank …
In my book, Obama and Romney are both good people. They are married to wonderful women. Certainly not perfect. There are things about their positions I agree with and things I disagree with. But regardless, they deserve respect—especially for choosing to serve the country through this political process. And I really do mean this.
Breaking News: The “other” candidate is not an evil person. So, join me in praying for Pres. Obama and Gov. Romney.
Agree or disagree. Like or dislike. Republican or Democrat. Tea Party or Coffee Party. It doesn’t matter. Lift a prayer for Pres. Obama and his family. Lift a prayer for Gov. Romney and his family. Pray for strength, conviction and courage. Pray for safety and peace.
C’mon. Just because you don’t like Romney doesn’t mean he hates 47 percent of Americans. Just because you don’t like Pres. Obama doesn’t mean he opposes family, faith, freedom, white dogs, Asians and human beings.
Pray for them…because one of them will be President.
7. Thou shalt not get played and manipulated.
Don’t get played and easily swayed. Be informed and know the issues. Don’t be a simple headline reader. Don’t be someone who just reads the RSS feeds. Be educated. Learn. Go deep.
In others words: Don’t get manipulated.
Voters (and especially people of faith) have to realize political parties and candidates (all of them) may distort, manipulate, cajole, emotionalize, tug and use whatever other tactics to “speak” to our faith. And if we’re not careful, we can be dumbed down and influenced in such a way that “religion” becomes the ruling or dominant way we decide to vote. Who cares what a respective candidate’s views are about economics, jobs, immigration, poverty, education, foreign aid, blah blah blah as long as we know a particular candidate and I are “equally yoked”?
8. Stay engaged in the political process.
Listen: Politics is not the ultimate answer or our ultimate hope. No political candidate should ever be elevated as savior of sorts. But get smart, be informed and stay engaged.
Don’t get cynical. (I know it’s hard…but we need you.)
We have to engage politics because politics involves policies and policies impact people. Last time I checked, people are really important to God.
9. Be informed. Be prayerful. Have integrity. Vote your convictions.
Vote your convictions.
Worth repeating again:
Vote your convictions.
And respect others. Be informed by our convictions…ultimately, as people of faith in Christ and the Kingdom of God. Rather than being blinded by one issue, be informed on many issues and pray for convictions consistent with biblical foundations and a life ethic that encompasses the whole of life—from womb to tomb.
10. Love God. Love people.
Yes, this might be the most important one, so let me make it as simple as possible for you:
May our love for politics, ideology, philosophy or even theology never supersede our love for God and neighbor—including neighbors who don’t share our politics.
Amen. Amen. Amen.
Eugene Cho is the co-founder (with his wife) and executive director of One Day’s Wages — “a movement of People, Stories, and Actions to alleviate extreme global poverty.” He is also the founding and lead pastor of Quest Church and the founder and executive director of Q Cafe — a non-profit community cafe and music venue in Seattle. Follow Eugene on Twitter or his personal blog.