Christians in the General Election: Joy and Politics

by Stephen P. Johnson, DMA

“I met those of our society who had votes in the ensuing election, and advised them, 1. To vote, without fee or reward, for the person they judged most worthy: 2. To speak no evil of the person they voted against: And, 3. To take care their spirits were not sharpened against those that voted on the other side.” - Reverend John Wesley’s Journal, Thursday, October 6, 1774

This quote may seem outdated, irrelevant, and unpopular. The notifications from our phones, the chatter on the radio, the barrage of TV comments and commentary, and all the other devices in our lives send us a tidal wave of opinions on the candidates’ flaws and the country’s impending ruin. Wesley’s measured encouragement suggests uplifting approaches. How can we avoid being caught in the popular flow of ridicule and destructive thoughts and words during this peculiar political season? Chose joy. In doing so, we remain anchored in Christ’s goodness amidst even the most challenging circumstances, the divisiveness of the current political climate included.

Joy may seem as outdated, seemingly irrelevant, and unpopular as Wesley’s comments on politics. More often, we hear vogue words like happiness, satisfaction, cheerfulness, and optimism. But a world of difference can be found in joy. You can be unhappy and joyful. You can be down and possess joy. Joy is different. Deeper. Joy reflects the other fruits of the Spirit at work in a person’s life. You can have joy, because you have peace. You can claim joy, because you have hope.

In the four chapters of Philippians, we see Paul encountering pain, uncertainty, and challenges that seem too much for any one person to endure, yet the book centers around joy. In Chapter 1, we read that from a posture of imprisonment, Paul prays for his brothers and sisters in Christ with joy. In Chapter 2, he appeals to the readers to fulfill his joy by exercising unity and love. In Chapter 3, he seems to jump off the page, saying, “rejoice in the Lord,” at the same time as watch out for evildoers. Lastly, in Chapter 4, he repeats, “rejoice in the Lord” multiple times while reminding us all to be anxious for nothing for Christ is our peace. We should fix our hearts and minds on this hope-filled truth.

How can we stand different amid the wild chatter of political angst? We join Paul in keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus and adopting his posture of joy.

Read articles in the Christians in the General Election Series:

Love and Politics by Robert Duke, Ph.D.

Peace and Politics by Regina Chow Trammel, MSW, LCSW

Patience and Politics by Kenneth L. Waters, Sr., Ph.D.

Kindness and Politics by Pamela Cone, Ph.D., CNS, RN

Goodness and Politics by Robert Duke, Ph.D.

Faithfulness and Politics by Joseph Bentz Ph.D.

Gentleness and Politics by Roger White, Ed.D.

Self Control and Politics by John M. Thornton, Ph.D., CPA

Stephen P. Johnson is the founding dean of the College of Music and the Arts at Azusa Pacific University.