On Thursday the 8th June the nation goes to the polls again. As the day approaches there is increasing frenzy in the media about the election. Whether it is on our TV screens, printed in the newspapers, and more than ever before through social media channels, commentators and politicians alike are clamouring for our attention and shaping the outcome of the election.
Following the Brexit vote a year ago it is clear that whoever wins the election will significantly shape what the UK's relationship with Europe will look like. Yet there are plenty of other issues that are being debated during the election campaign.
For some choosing who to vote for is straightforward - they simply identify the candidate standing for their preferred party and put their cross against that person's name. Others are open to persuasion and will decide based upon the arguments presented during the election campaign.
So how should Christians decide who will get their vote? A simplistic approach might be to vote for a candidate who professes to be a Christian. However, one of the challenges and blessings of our democracy is that Christians are represented in most, if not all of the major political parties. At least three of the candidates standing for the North East Hampshire constituency profess to be Christian and yet will disagree on many key issues!
It is not my place to express an opinion on who to vote for, all I can do is ask that you prayerfully consider what the different candidates have to say. Why not join us on Thursday 1st June and ask the local candidates the questions that interest you. There are a number of websites that you may find helpful in evaluating political responses on issues that some Christians feel strongly about:
www.engage17.org.uk by CARE (Christian Action Research and Education)
www.christian.org.uk/election by Christian Institute
www.christiansinpolitics.org.uk/showup by Christians in Politics
www.tearfund.org/election by Tearfund
www.premier.org.uk/Election-2017 by Premier Christian Radio
Lastly, I would encourage you to exercise your democratic right to vote. Jesus describes Christians as being like 'salt and light' and also like 'leaven or yeast'. These analogies all express the truth that by being involved in our society we are able to influence it for good with heavenly Kingdom values. Political engagement for Christians is always likely to be frustrating because a cross in the box on Election Day will result in a government shaped by popular opinion rather than by biblical truth. But as we vote let's also pray for Christians who have been called to get involved in the political arena that they will be able to stand up strong for Jesus and his cross!