By Chuck Colson (Edited and updated)
This Tuesday Americans will go to the polls and elect a number of state and national officials – who will influence the direction in which the country’s moral compass will point. But according to a recent report, only a fourth of evangelical Christians – those who ought to be most concerned with moral values – will actually vote.
These are shocking figures. Of all people, we ought to vote, not just as a right, but as a spiritual duty. All it takes is to lose your right to vote, as I did once, to know how precious that is.
The Rev. Curt Young in Silver Spring, Maryland, [once] told his flock … why they needed to vote. Just a short distance from his church is the Capitol, the Supreme Court, and the offices of Congress. Young wanted his congregation to know that the Scriptures have a lot to say about our responsibility to choose leaders. It was such a good message that I want to offer you a part of it today.
In Deuteronomy 16, he pointed out, Moses tells the Israelites: “You shall appoint judges and officials for each of your tribes . . . and they shall judge the people.” The term judges and officials covered all government leaders. Besides hearing cases and rendering decisions, they set public policy and could even call out the military in a crisis. Given these heavy responsibilities, the criteria for selecting judges were strict.
They were to be men who feared God, who were committed to the truth, and who hated dishonest gain. And they were warned: “You shall not pervert justice; you shall not show partiality; and you shall not take a bribe, for a bribe . . . subverts the cause of the righteous.”
When Moses commanded the Israelites to appoint God-fearing leaders, he wasn’t just talking to a handful of citizens who felt like getting involved. Young noted that the command was directed to all citizens. And modern Christians are under the same obligation to choose leaders who love justice.
Ironically, the Scriptures warn that if we value prosperity over justice, we’ll end up losing both. Moses told the Israelites to “follow justice and justice alone.” He follows this command with a promise that they will “live and possess the land the Lord your God is giving you.” In other words, if you want prosperity, choose leaders committed to justice.
In the Old Testament, God often sent people to find particular individuals to lead. Today, in our modern democracy, free citizens act as God’s agents for choosing leaders, and we do it by voting. So there’s no excuse for those who don’t take the trouble to vote.
Kent here: I’ve never lost the right to vote, as Colson once did, but I echo his sentiments about how precious is that right.
When I think of:
- what our forebears went through to come to and settle the New World;
- what our Founding Fathers sacrificed to give us a free, representative democratic republic;
- what our ancestors went through in the Revolutionary War;
- the blood shed in the War Between the States to free the slaves and still preserve our union;
- the enormous price our brave men and women paid in saving the world in WW’s I and II;
- the ink-stained thumbs of the people of Iraq and Afghanistan who risked their very lives to cast the first free ballots they’ve ever done – and our military who gave them that privilege at great personal cost; and
- what our Armed Forces, intelligence agencies and Homeland Security personnel do every day and night to keep the terrorists and other enemies of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness at bay –
What possible excuse is there for not showing up at the polling place and casting my ballot?
Come on, God’s people: We must be good citizens of our earthly kingdoms as well as the Kingdom of God. Vote next Tuesday if you haven’t already. Don’t just vote party: vote your principles. Your biblically based, Christ-centered principles.
And pray God’s forgiveness, mercy, guidance and blessing on all our elected and appointed representatives, and upon the United States of America.