One more week and it will all be over! All the campaign ads, the mudslinging, the distortions, the character attacks—after next Tuesday it will all end, and we can get back to other things; we can have our televisions back.

But will it really be over? Or will it just be beginning? After all, the people we elect on Tuesday will be around for the next two to four years. They will be making decisions that impact the welfare of cities, states, and nations. They will have an impact, both on those who voted for them and those who don’t.

So as tired as we may be of all the hoopla that surrounds elections, what we will do on Nov. 7 is vitally important and deserves the best consideration and thoughtfulness we can give it.

As Christians, I think we have a special obligation when it comes to elections. We need to resist the temptation to vote for people who will enact laws and policies that will benefit us, our pocketbooks, and our prosperity. Rather, we need to seriously consider whether a politician has the best interests of the entire community, especially those who are most vulnerable and least powerful, at heart.

As followers of Jesus Christ, it seems to me that we also have a responsibility to look beyond good deeds and acts of charity (often called pork-barrel spending or “bringing home the bacon”) doled out by politicians.

Often money earmarked for charitable organizations only masks the fact that other policies they support only serve to keep people in need of such charity. We need to ask not only what our elected officials are doing to enable charitable organizations to help the disadvantaged, but what policies (economic, social, and legal) are our elected officials pursuing to eliminate poverty, social dislocation, the lack of health care resources for children, etc.

And as Christians, we need to ask, “Will the people I am voting for work for a more peaceful world?”

This involves more than eliminating conflict and violence, it means pursuing policies that extend justice and equity to other peoples and nations. And the work is not just global, it begins in every community. Our local officials need to do whatever they can, not only to curb violent crime through law enforcement, but through fostering a climate of hope and opportunity for all our citizens.

When we go to the polls next Tuesday, and I certainly hope you plan to vote, I hope we will remember that voting is another way we can extend the love of God “to the least of these….”

Voting is more than a civic duty, it is an extension of our participation in the reconciling ministry of Christ in our world.

Jim Holladay is pastor of Lyndon Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky.

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