Perhaps because the stakes are so high, or maybe because we just like to fight, this November’s historic election cycle has elicited some very strong, emotional responses among Christians of various political persuasions.

I believe that followers of Christ should be engaged in the political process in meaningful ways rather than withdrawing into our own insular dreamworld while, at the same time, recognizing that our ultimate hope is not in a particular politician or the political process.  The idea of being part of the already but not yet Kingdom certainly creates tension for any of us who want to live out our faith missionally into our culture.

It is wrong to equate one party or another as the “Christian” political party, despite the best efforts of some to push certain hot button issues in order to corral the Christian vote.  I appreciate what Charles Lee had to say recently:

This is not to say that Christians ought to be Democrats. The point here is not whether Christians ought to be Republican or Democrat. (In fact, I am registered Non-Partisan.)

I think those of us who follow the teachings of Christ should recognize the imperfection of any political party. More importantly, we must acknowledge our own frailty and inadequacies. Our main focus should not be voting for the right party, politician or issue, but rather, voting our values by the way we live our lives. We can argue until we are blue in the face (no pun intended), but true change will occur once we take it upon ourselves and our faith communities to live out our values in our day to day activities

Faithful people who genuinely love and follow Jesus can, and will, come to different conclusions about which political party they support (for the record, like Charles, I am also registered non-partisan).  However, it might be difficult to tell with all of the Scripture smackdowns people deliver when even asking a simple question such as, Can you be a Christian and vote Democratic? Or, if you have the stomach for it, follow the trail of vitriol in the comments section over at Relevant’s blog where Cameron Strang describes Why I Accepted, and then Declined, and Invitation to Pray at the DNC — so many people presuming to speak on behalf of God, Jesus and/or the Bible itself.

Although most churches will never have the clout to host a nationally televised forum with both candidates, as Rick Warren did at the Saddleback Faith Forum, we can still encourage our people to agree or disagree with grace and dignity.  An example: Greg Boyd and Chuck Colson disagreeing respectfully, sometimes passionately, during a public debate at the National Pastors Convention.

As followers of Christ, may we rise above the politics of fear, innuendo, slander and email chain letter conspiracy theories and may we treat others, especially those with whom we disagree, with grace.