Shewanda Riley

Considering the current chaotic political environment, how do Christians decide who to vote for? It’s not as simple as voting for the candidate who wraps themselves in scriptures and shows up at the most churches. Nor is it as simple as judging an authentic Christian on whether they vote on issues like abortion, same sex marriage or support for Israel. One way to determine who to vote for is to look at the truth of Matthew 7:17-20 which says, “You will know them by their fruits…Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore, by their fruits you will know them.” In other words, we must become fruit inspectors.

Think about the fruit of the seeds planted in the last four years: Racial strife, economic uncertainty, and an uncontrollable pandemic that has killed nearly 220,000 people in a little over 6 months. Some could argue that the recent chaos is a result of the Republicans 8-year strategy of negative rhetoric and obstruction against the Obama Presidency. Republicans are now faced with a very unpopular incumbent President who lies repeatedly, bullies relentlessly and whines about being mistreated all while promoting racial division and violence. The truly sad part is that he maintains record high support among white evangelicals. The bizarre thing is that the worse his behavior becomes, the stronger their support becomes.

It saddens me that Christianity has been hijacked and as a result, is perceived as a religion that ridicules and not reconciles.

Instead of showing love and compassion, those who need grace the most (children locked in cages after being separated from their parents or victims of police violence) are treated with cruel disdain and bigoted judgement.

It seems the words of 1 Corinthians 5:18-19 have been forgotten: “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation….”

The growing public backlash against the negativity of our current President indicates that the fruit of this behavior is not the anticipated unified country. The most recent reports of violent campaign rallies, bullying behavior, and racist language have led to a loss of support of Republicans among likely voters. This makes me wonder if these shocking behaviors being brought up are really a “fake news” or merely an example of harvesting bad fruit.

Christians should not vote based on an outward display of religiosity or promises of a renewal of moral values. Instead, we should vote for those who pass the “fruit inspection.” Before we vote, we should ask which candidates best exemplify the words of Galatians 5:22: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.” Then we should pray!

Shewanda Riley is a Fort Worth-based author of “Love Hangover: Moving From Pain to Purpose After a Relationship Ends” and “Writing to the Beat of God’s Heart: A Book of Prayers for Writers.” Email her at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @shewanda.