FIRST-PERSON: Picking a president

Guest Article: Jim Richards

Guest article from Jim Richards, executive director of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.


a95c84bb-4ef1-4a6c-b146-35962bca29d7-Jim-RichardsGRAPEVINE, Texas (BP) — In this presidential election year, no candidate (even the one I like) is going to bring revival to the churches. No president will be in the forefront of evangelism even if he is a committed believer in Christ.

This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t participate in the process. Based on Romans 13, believers have an obligation to be good citizens. In the American context, that means we should register to vote and cast our ballots. As you assess the candidates this year, here are several key considerations:

Be informed

Select a candidate who has high moral character. This is a tall order because all of us are sinners; no one is perfect. It is impossible to find a candidate who has no blemishes. David, king of Israel, was a flawed man but still had redeeming qualities, such as humility before the Lord. Politicians will say anything to get your vote. Research the best person for whom to cast your ballot. Character matters.

Be convictional

Biblical issues are important. God is pro-life from beginning to end and in between. A candidate or party that holds pre-born babies as mere tissue is outside the biblical ethic. Euthanasia is taking God’s place in the process of death. Racial discrimination is unacceptable to the Christ follower. All people are to be treated with respect and dignity. The Bible speaks to economic systems.

There are virtually no public policies that are untouched by God’s Word. Find out where the parties stand on these issues. Vote for candidates that most closely represent a biblical ethic.

Be a patriot

There is no conflict between being a Christian and an American. Perhaps one of the most controversial subjects is patriotism itself. I believe some have created a false dichotomy by saying, “I’m a Christian first, an American second.” Every Bible-believing Christ follower, however, should say “Amen” to that statement.

Being a Christian first doesn’t mean you can’t be a good American. The United States has provided evangelical Christianity with greater opportunities to present the Gospel to the world than any country in modern times. Why would Christians want to weaken our nation? A strong America enables the Gospel to be furthered to the ends of the earth. Whether it is reducing our national military defense or allowing illegal immigration, it is self-destructive to our nation. We should pursue peace, but we are not pacifists. We should love those who are in our land illegally without perpetuating the crisis.

Be a witness

America has experienced a shift in culture that will never be reversed by politics. Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists have a completely different worldview from our founding fathers. Secularists seek to eradicate the Christian witness from the public square.

The only way we will ever see an America that is based on Judeo-Christian principles is to win people to Christ and teach them a biblical worldview. God doesn’t need America, but we need Him. Only the Gospel, not public policy, can change people’s lives. They need our Savior to save them from hell.

As you go to the ballot box this year, remember it is important to be a Christian first, then an American second. If you do that, you will cast a vote pleasing to our Father. May God bless America!

Executive Director of Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions

State Missionary Rick Lance was elected in June of 1998 to serve as executive director of the State Board of Missions and treasurer of the Alabama Baptist Convention. Rick leads state missions efforts and facilitates Great Commission Ministries for the Convention’s 3,200+ churches and more than one million Alabama Baptists.

Rick and his wife, Pam, are members at First Baptist Church, Montgomery. They have two daughters.

Any requests for Rick Lance to speak in or visit your church should be directed to Billie Davis at 1-800-264-1225, ext. 253 or (334) 613-2253, [email protected]

For questions about Dr. Lance’s Facebook and Twitter accounts or his blog site, you may contact his social media assistant, Keith Hinson, at 1-800-264-1225, ext. 289 or (334) 613-2289, [email protected]