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Who do Christians vote for? - Part II Last update October 2013

Some among us go through such awful trouble that they know first-hand there is more to the 70 – 100 years we have on this earth than fun and games, lewdness, lasciviousness and laughter. Indeed, it seems as life is more serious than that.

Really? Is life in fact a ‘serious matter' void of enjoyment, hope and happiness? No. That’s not the point. Of course there is no desire – on the part of God and of our own – to be robbed of the good things of life. Rightly did Solomon say, I commended enjoyment, because a man has nothing better under the sun than to eat, drink, and be merry; for this will remain with him in his labor all the days of his life which God gives him under the sun (Ecclesiastes 9:7).

And rightly did Jesus comment on this, And I [you] will say to my [your] soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ (Luke 12:19-20, my emphasis).

And so are we called to genuinely enjoy the good things of life, yet not without affording due priority to the important things of life. Such is human kind that we confuse ‘good’ with ‘nice’ and ‘important’ with ‘available’. For most of us, if something is readily available to do or to consume, then it seems right for us to go ahead without due consideration of what we might have to forsake to have the enjoyment that beckons us to proceed. That is what Jesus was talking about above. He was no ‘spoilsport’. No, He simply noted that there are more important things to pursue in life than personal fulfillment in the way we spend our private time, the way we conduct our careers, the way we raise our children, the way we ‘have church’, the way we think best to vote.

Everyday believers know the difference. And, everyday believers know that God is a serious God. He is no tyrant. And He is no despot. But He is sovereign. He is God. And, He is serious. For the God of the New Testament, as with the Old, is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29). He has not changed. He never will (Hebrews 13:8).

Let’s recap

So, if Jesus said to the disciples of the first century, My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me (John 10:27), how is that different to speaking to Christians today? Clearly, it is not. What He meant then, is what He still means today. If, and only if, you or I hear His voice and follow, we are His sheep. There should be no questioning about this - we are well advised not to be confused about this issue; Jesus’ sheep hear His voice. Period.

So, when we get to vote in (or out) the next government, what do Jesus’ followers do? They hear His voice and they follow Him. In Part I of this article I made the same point. Christians hear God speaking and obey. Non-Christians or immature Christians do not do that. By this I mean not to put myself in a position of judgment concerning any one individual, only a judgment (or discernment) of what the word of God says about this issue. So, what I am doing is reflecting on what the Bible says, not reflecting on which persons by name fit that description. This is what Scripture is there for (refer 2 Timothy 3:14-17) and we are called to use it in that manner.

I’ve been criticized for suggesting that Christians should not use their personal judgment in deciding who to vote for. Indeed, in the absence of hearing God personally and for themselves, this is the thing to do (use your personal judgment). But, as Jesus says, the thing that distinguishes His followers from others is that they hear His voice and they follow. That is what you and I should be working towards, every day. It is a matter relevant to at least every big decision in life. Voting in a federal election, I think, meets that description for whomever rules the country determines the extent to which a nation ‘cooperate’ with God’s way. Let us be clear, following Christian laws alone has never made anybody right with God. So, it is not about following laws. But it is about denying (to some extent) ungodliness to prevail.

God alone knows the hearts and minds of politicians and political parties alike. Though office holders and candidates may make many promises before the election, only God knows which issues/laws they will eventually support and which not? In Australian politics - as is the case in other countries, I'm sure - the number of back-flips and reversals of campaign commitments is simply astounding. It seems as if stated promises has come to mean nothing. What then gives anyone the comfort that they know better who to vote for than God himself?

How did I come to an answer?

So how has this worked out practically for me during this past election? I must confess, having posted Part I of this article, which suggested God’s personal guidance on the issue prior to having received clear guidance from Him myself, I had no guarantee that I was actually going to hear from Him. Notwithstanding, I knew that if He wanted for Him to be heard all I needed to do was to ‘incline my ear to His sayings’ (refer Proverbs 4:20). And so, in the end, I’m very sure that I received my answer. And, I am at complete peace that I have made the right vote, whether or not my candidate was elected and whether or not God showed other Christians to be voting in the same way He showed me. What matters is not what we may deem the 'correct answer (read 'who to vote for')'. What matters is whether or not we can follow Him wherever He leads us.

Thus, I believe I have been on Gods’ team during this election – cooperating with Him in what He wants to achieve in and through people. People like me.

Let me explain:
Still not knowing who to vote for I attended a ‘Meet the candidate’ community meeting a week or so before voting started. At this point I was already asking God for His guidance but I had not yet heard anything. As noted before, I was surprised that the Christian lobby group who hosted the meeting actually never tested the candidates on the issue of faith. So, whilst some clearly were not Christian, for a number of them the jury was still out. I had also corresponded via email with one candidate who had made it known prior to this meeting that she was Christian. Yet, her answers to my direct questions, though sincere, were disappointing. So, I had come to the conclusion that it was likely not her that I would be voting for as my number one candidate. And so I prayed having formulated some sort of a list of candidates in what I perceived to be the right order of priority (in the election of our House of Representative candidates, voters must allocate a priority to every candidate listed). So, in my own mind, I had a ‘dry run’ as to what the list was actually going to look like in order of priority. I likely based the order on various factors such as Christian credentials, my sense of their sincerity or authenticity, their experience as managers/politicians, their ability to carry themselves in public and speak before people, their political and philosophical approach to challenges, and, what they said their policies were all about. There were some candidates that I put at the bottom of the list as a matter of principle and some at the top for the same reason as well.

But, in the end, that was not how I voted. What I heard from God in my heart was clear and it was consistent over time. There was no variation and there was no wavering though I, naturally, was skeptical at first towards what I had heard. What went down was this:

So, I ended up with a list from 8 to 1 with the person with whom I had previously agreed most in terms of character and policy sitting at number 6 on my final vote. Now, here is one further surprise: this same person’s party (no. 6) was to be the only party to vote for in the Senate election where voters could select only one candidate if they so chose.

Why things had to be this way I have no idea. It turns out that my constituency’s vote – which closed more than a month ago – is still not complete. No, it being the closest race in Australia’s electoral history, it is far from being settled. As at the date of publishing, it is the only Parliamentary seat in Australia that has not been finalised. Australia follows a ‘preferences system’ where a minority candidate may allocate their votes to another candidate of their choice. As such, the value of such passed-on votes depends on the order of each voter’s ballot. What’s been very interesting to me is the relative position of the two candidates who are now engaged in 'the battle between two' for my constituency's seat via various recounts (those candidates who are battling out a difference of only 7 votes, after the allocation of preferences) from my initial and final priority sheets . Yet, irrespective of the outcome, I am at peace about my contribution.

Spiritual guidance: is it a fraud?

Some will argue that I may have heard my own heart or even from Satan and not from God. It is a valid point. They are right. This is why we must cultivate our hearts to hear His voice as it distinguishes itself from that of Satan and his cohorts. What it does not say is that we should not ‘incline our ears to His words’. Often the lack of good character and sound judgment on the part of an individual who claims to be led by the Spirit or who displays the gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:1-11) puts people off being led by Him in this way. That’s why Paul said we should not be ignorant about the gifts in particular (1 Corinthians 12:1). But, unlike the various ministries awarded by God (refer Ephesians 4:11-13), of which are Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers, which are in fact a function of an individual’s character and judgment over time, being led by the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit, generally, are given notwithstanding an individual’s lack of judgment or good character. And, they are given irrespective of whether or not the person in question got it right the previous time. That is why there are gifts such as the discerning of spirits and interpretation on tongues, prophesies and teaching - as Christians we are tasked to keep each other in check (1 Corinthians 12:7-11).

In my mind's eye I can see some people say, 'it is too risky - people who claim to hear God are often diluded. I'd rather go without it [guidance of the Spirit]'. To these I will say, 'it is far more risky not to hear the Spirit for yourself than what it is to be potentially misled by a fellow Christian'.

Consider how Spirit-filled people like Peter, Paul and Barnabas, who prophesied, brought words of knowledge and wisdom, who healed people and displayed extraordinary faith, could show poor character in, amongst others, being hypocritical, blatantly misleading (Galatians 2:11-14) and even enter into open disagreement with each other to the extent that they ‘split the church’ (refer Acts 15:36-41), albeit temporarily. Walking in the gifts of the Spirit or being led by the Spirit is no guarantee that anyone is being a good example to others. Christians, not knowing any better, are led astray by this daily. Again, though believers who walk in the gifts of the Spirit and who are led by Him may display poor character and judgment, this does not mean that the gifts of the Spirit and guidance by the Spirit should be shunned. On the contrary, this exactly makes the case for hearing the Holy Spirit for yourself on as many issues as are practically possible. For without it, my reading of the Bible says, even the elect will be deceived: For false christs and false prophets will rise and show signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect (Mark 13:22, 1 John 2:27).

If Jesus, the Son of God, said, ‘it is in your best interest that I go away so that the Holy Spirit may come and guide you day by day’ (John 16:7), then we are well advised to take Jesus’ words to heart and pursue a life led by the Spirit, every day and on every possible issue. This is faith. This is obedience. For such are the sons and daughters of God (Romans 8:14) – they are led by the Spirit of God. Will anyone dare shun [this] Scripture? Not I.

So, hearing God is one of those really, really important things in life. Few things trump it. It is a serious matter. It is more important and more serious than our 'commitments to church', our good manners, our social status, our charitable deeds, our hobbies, our private time, our careers, our sports, our books, our 'balanced lives', our 'healthy perspectives', our relationships, our TV shows, our social gatherings, ourselves.

Doing what He says to your heart is even more important. Why? Because God is serious about His business and He wants us to adopt the same attitiude. Though we may faulter in our journey of obedience and faith, our availability to His promptings is what opens our hearts to bearing fruit; that kind of fruit the Father is looking for. It is a fruit that not only brings change to the world around us, but the kind of fruit that changes us while bringing that change. Fruit delivered by the personal, direct guidance of the Holy Spirit is exactly this. It is the very thing the Father is looking for (John 15:5).

Whilst the gifts of the Spirit and being personally led by the Spirit speak of temporary acts of goodness that come and go but are in accordance with God’s truth, the various ministries that are awarded by the Holy Spirit speak of something more lasting; they speak of good character and good judgment, and they speak of maturity in Christ. Of these I make no claim.

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Please consult the Bible and test what is written here. Ask the Lord to give you wisdom in this area. Keep that which is good and reject that which is not Scriptual. Should you come to a different understanding than I please let me know - perhaps I can learn from you.

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