How to participate in peaceful elections

With just a few days to national elections, many have wondered whether there is a godly way of conducting or participating in elections. Strange as it may seem, the Bible has little to say about conducting or participating in elections. In fact, there are no examples of elections recorded in the Holy Scriptures. In Biblical times, leaders were primarily selected or appointed by God, rather than democratically elected by the people like we do today. However, there is one recorded incident – perhaps the only one – where elections were conducted in a manner almost similar to today.

Soon after Jesus’ ascension into heaven, the disciples considered it necessary to replace Judas, who had betrayed Jesus to the Romans. Judas, who had been one of the Twelve Apostles, later committed suicide when he realized his folly. Upon Jesus departure, the Apostles advised the larger company of the disciples to choose one from among them to replace Judas. Such a person, they agreed, must be one who had been with them throughout the period Jesus had been around. So they proposed two men: Justus and Matthias. Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.” Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.

A careful analysis of this process reveals at least five key steps the community of believers followed to identify the person to replace Judas in the critical leadership role among the Twelve.

  1. They set a criteria for identifying the potential candidates – must have walked with Jesus.
  2. They conducted a nomination – Justus and Matthias were nominated.
  3. They prayed for God’s guidance in identifying the candidate.
  4. They voted – and Matthias got the highest vote.
  5. They inaugurated or commissioned the successful candidate – Matthias was added to the team of Apostles.
  6. They returned to their normal routines, and we hear nothing more about that election.

From this record, there are several principles that can be gleaned to help guide our conduct and participation in elections.

  1. There seems to have been unanimity in determining the process to follow.
  2.  There was a high level of trust, both in Peter as the leader, and also in the process as designed.
  3.  Most importantly, these men and women demonstrated a deep faith in God as the one who ultimately appoints leaders. It is this belief and trust in God that caused the whole community to accept Matthias as their new leader. Even though they had cast their votes for both candidates, they unanimously believed that Matthias was God’s choice. Accordingly, both those who voted for Justus and those who voted for Matthias, accepted the results and in unity commissioned Matthias as their new Apostle.

The lesson for us is that, if we believe in God – and a majority of Kenyans do – elections should be a simple and straightforward exercise.

  1. Each of us should very objectively set criteria for identifying the candidates to vote for in each elective position.
  2. Next, identify two or three candidates in each position who you believe meet the criteria.
  3. Then, pray for God’s guidance in choosing the best candidate among them.
  4. On Election Day, go and vote for the persons of your choice.
  5. Once the results are out, celebrate the successful candidates – as chosen by God – whether they are the ones you voted for or not.

King Solomon in his wisdom said: The lot is cast, but its every decision is from the Lord. There is therefore no reason to fight over elections.

Written by the Presiding Bishop CITAM

Rev. David Oginde @doginde


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