It’s that time again. Fall is coming, even if the temperature where you are doesn’t express it yet. Fall brings football, Fall Festivals (a.k.a. Halloween parties), and, in this case, another election.
Of all those competing distractions, pastors are likely most afraid, or at least concerned, about the last one. It has not always been the case, but recent years have made many of us shudder and cringe when the topics of politics and elections come around. I think this fall will be no different.
I was talking with our team recently and the question came up, “What will be the key issues in this fall’s midterm election?”
I am not a political pundit. However, I will confess that I pay too much attention to this sector of our world, but I am learning to see the biblical and healthy limits that government and politics play in our society.
Like some pastors, I am concerned that politics has become something of a new religion for many in our culture. Not so long ago, based on Sunday absenteeism, we were concerned that sports had become a replacement religion. That idol still lives. Just look at the sixteen NFL stadiums filled with nearly one hundred thousand spectators each Sunday, the pre-game tailgate parties, and the live viewership numbers.
Still, politics has taken on a larger role in the minds and hearts of many Americans and many evangelical Christians. As our team discussed the coming midterms, here were the issues we thought would be top of mind for voters this time around:
6 concerning issues for the 2022 midterm elections
1. All things Trump
Regardless of what you think of him, Donald Trump has become a dominant figure—some might say lightning rod—in American politics. He is a one-of-a-kind modern populist politician. Some would argue that former President Trump, once aligned with well-known Democrats, has commandeered the Republican party for his own agenda. Love him or despise him, he is in some way a part of almost every political conversation right now.
2. Election integrity
From the hanging chads of the 2000 Bush v. Gore contest to the 2020 election, America has experienced and endured big issues around the validity of our voting processes. We have and are learning that voting matters, that voting is the bedrock of our republic. If we lose confidence in the credibility of the ballot box, our form of government is in great peril.
Dr. Jim Denison and I did a podcast on this issue a few months back in “What does it mean to be a Christian patriot?” Dr. Denison also wrote “What to do when church members question elections.” For a more in-depth analysis of election integrity suitable for sharing with your church members, see also “Are US elections always fair?”
3. Inflation and the economy
Years ago I learned the political maxim, “It’s the economy, stupid.” Most voters vote through the lens of their most recent bank statement. When fuel, food, and the roof over your head cost more, you usually speak up when you pull the voting lever.
4. Ukraine, Russia, China, etc.
Foreign affairs matter more these days. The covid pandemic revealed perhaps the most profound reality of globalization. We are all now much more aware and concerned about what happens in every part of the world for good and for evil. Technology and travel have made the world a neighborhood, but only Christ can make it a brotherhood.
5. The response to Roe’s overturn
This has been a landmark year at the Supreme Court. Those focused on the pro-life movement never thought this change would come. People in the pro-choice camp are reeling, and some of those feelings may emerge in various elections.
6. The resiliency of our republic
The American experiment does have the potential to fail. Many feel that America is currently headed in the wrong direction. In the long view of history, we are still considered a young country. Most experiments fail on the way to finding one that will work. We must not take life or government as we know it for granted. We must be humble, grateful, and cooperative and not entitled, suspicious, and violent or else we’ll have no chance of longevity.
Pastors: How to equip and encourage your church
Your people may not talk about these issues in the hallways, parking lots, and lobby of your church. Or you may fear that these will be the only things they are talking about. Either way, here are a few practical ways you can encourage and equip your people to be engaged in our free republic in healthy ways.
1. Teach your church to pray and participate in our republic.
We are most blessed with amazing freedoms. God created government so communities and countries could thrive. See Romans 13. Christians should be informed. We should vote. We should participate in the processes and ask God if he wants us to run for office. Worship and discipleship include praying for all those in authority including those we disagree with (2 Timothy 2:1–4).
2. Teach your people that politics and government are a gift but are also limited and should not be their religion.
Any time we expect or demand things from others or from the government that can only come to us by humble trust in Christ Jesus we are guilty of idolatry. No human entity should ever be allowed to rival our first and greatest love. See Mark 12:28–34.
3. Teach and model for your people what it looks and sounds like to speak the truth in love and to love those with whom they politically disagree.
See Ephesians 4:15. Jesus was and is the perfect manifestation of grace and truth (John 1:14). We need to pray daily that God will make us more like him in that way and in every way. We need to be very careful about seeing others as evil when they are simply our opponents politically. In the Spirit of Christ, we need to condemn personal violence, especially violence done in the name of religion and vigilant justice.
4. Remind your church that God is sovereign and that his purposes are greater than geopolitical objectives.
God’s kingdom, the gospel, and the work of his church are never confined by the gyrations of governments. One of the most effective evangelistic strategies the Spirit ever used in the book of Acts was chaining Roman soldiers to Peter and John. (See Acts 4 and Philippians 1:12–14.) As Pastor Tony Evans once said, “Christians need to know that the kingdom of God will not arrive on Air Force One.”
God bless you and your church and the good work you are doing.
God sees, rejoices, and will reward your faithfulness.
Be grateful for where you live and when you are living. God selected both for you.
And yes! God bless America, again and again and again.