5 things to consider before casting your vote
In the final hours of Australia’s 2016 Federal Election campaign, all the issues and policies and candidates might be swirling around your mind. Swirling. Swirling. Swirling. Like me, you might also be feeling dazed, confused and slightly overwhelmed. But rather than let apathy or annoyance cloud our approach to the ballot box, here are five handy hints for trying to make our vote count for the most important ruler of all — God.
No matter what happens at the ballot box, God doesn’t take his hands off the wheel of his purposes, plans and priorities. Like God and His No. 1 Son Jesus ask us to do in any and all situations, then, we should bring Australia’s 2016 Election to God in prayer. Because the God who is over and above everything, loves to hear from us. He loves for us to express our devotion, dependence and trust in him through our prayers. At a time like a Federal Election, there is so much to bring to God and ask that, somehow, his will will be done. Pray for your vote. Pray for your family’s vote. Pray for the vote of people you don’t know and will never know. Pray for the candidates. Pray for the chosen Prime Minister and their government. Whatever you are praying for, make it sincere, generous — and often.
Like me, you might still be trying to narrow down who you will be voting for. I know, I know. Voting is almost here. But whichever candidate you or I decide upon, followers of Jesus always should be placing “the glory of God” as our first preference. Our highest priority. “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31) That simple statement of living life fits with Jesus explaining how “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” is the greatest commandment. (Mark 12:30) While it might take a bit of effort to work out how to glorify God with our vote, that’s what we need to do. The big reason for doing all for the glory of God, as 1 Corinthians explains, is so that other people may find salvation in Jesus. When it comes to voting, we should look to support policies, politicians and parties which will not make it harder for people to find such salvation.
When I cast my vote, will I think only of myself and what I reckon is best for me? Maybe I could be focussed on a promised tax break or some social policy that seems to help me — yet it hurts and exploits others. As I come to vote, will I consider the impact upon others that my choice could have? Have I been approaching my vote with a “love my neighbour” mentality? Will we “honour one another above [ourselves]” (Rom 12:10)? As someone living for Jesus and his righteous ways, will we humbly “consider others better than [ourselves]? (Philippians 2:3) That’s what Christians should be about, as the letter to the Philippians goes on to outline: “Each of [us]should look not to [our] own interests, but to the interests of others.” Putting others ahead of ourselves, even if it costs us.
For a long time, I didn’t taking voting seriously. My mum was annoyed by this and often reminded me of all the countries around the world which don’t have the luxury and privilege of voting in their government. It took me years to pay attention to politics, even though the business of government — as boring and unengaging as it can be — is all of our business. This election, I’ve been making more of an effort to consider issues, politicians and future projections. It’s time consuming and frequently frustrating or vague. But, thankfully, there are plenty of helpful resources around to assist us with making a godly, educted vote. Check out UnitingJustice’s “Your Faith, Your Voice, Your Vote” resource or check out Eternity newspaper’s Federal Election guide.
Whatever the outcome of my vote and your vote, we all have to live with the election results. As you are making your final decision on voting, consider how you will respond if your preferred politician is elected — or they aren’t. Because the point of voting doesn’t stop at the point where you cast your vote. Australia is going to be deeply impacted by the results of Federal Election 2016. Are we ready for that? The best way to get ready seems to me to be the best way to get ready for anything. Remember Jesus’s words to his followers in Matthew 5:13-16? He reminds them to always be “salt” and “light” in the world. Regardless of what government is in or which policy we support, Jesus calls us to share the flavour and radiance of his saving grace with those around us. The reason to do that is to help others to give glory to God for the salvation offered by Jesus.
Does that get your vote?