One month in a communist country under marshal law taught me that voting is a great gift and grave responsibility.
Larry and I arrived in Poland on the one-year anniversary of a demonstration that had turned bloody when government officers open fired on demonstrators with their AK-47s. The police’s brutality left many beaten and dead.
Soldiers holding machine guns— AK-47s—lined the streets we walked on our first night in Poland. Hundreds of citizens carried glowing candles. The silence was deafening.
We went as missionaries, but we had to declare ourselves as tourists. One couple from our team had already been kicked out of another communist country for smuggling in Bibles. They walked out of the country leaving their van and belongings behind.
That summer we stayed near the Auschwitz concentration camp and listened to Poles of all ages share the suffering and injustices their government had caused them. Those few weeks made me passionate about voting and freedom.
But you don’t have to travel to understand our responsibility to vote. The Bible says, “Be a good citizen. All governments are under God. Insofar as there is peace and order, it’s God’s order. So live responsibly as a citizen. If you’re irresponsible to the state, then you’re irresponsible with God, and God will hold you responsible” (Romans 13:1-2, MSG).
A young adult recently said he wasn’t sure if he would vote this time. He wasn’t very passionate about the options.
In a democracy we choose our government leaders. Presidents to justices to school board members affect our lives. Jesus shows us we should vote in a way to please God regardless of the level of our emotions.
“I seek not to please myself but him who sent me” (John 5:30, NIV).
Jesus did not seek His own will but His Father’s will. That is how we too should live, evaluate, and vote. We pray and read our Bibles to discover God’s heart. We listen, read, and learn about the candidates and issues. Whose life best alines with God’s values? We pray for wisdom and discernment to apply what we learn. That is responsible citizenship.
Jesus also said, “The servant who knows what his master wants and ignores it, or insolently does whatever he pleases, will be thoroughly thrashed…Great gifts mean great responsibilities; greater gifts, greater responsibilities!” (Luke 12:47-48, MSG)
Voting is not something to take lightly. Thank God for our democracy, and vote carefully.
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