"I met those of our society who had votes in the ensuing election and advised them,
1. To vote, without fee or reward, for the person they judged most worthy:
2. To speak no evil of the person they voted against; and
3. To take care their spirits were not sharpened against those that voted on the other side."
Rev. John Wesley, October 6, 1774
John Wesley encouraged those in the Classes and Societies, which were the small groups that made up the Methodist movement in its opening decades, to vote in local elections. He went on further with a word of warning about the temptations of human nature. Wesley encouraged them to resist the tendency to speak or think badly of those who voted on the other side. John Wesley has taken a truth from the scriptures and brought it all the way to November 2012. Jesus made it clear in the Gospels that not only are we to resist the actions that cause harm to others, we are also to avoid the thoughts and inner work that can be just as harmful. He said we can murder in our mind. We can cheat with our thoughts. Go read about it in Matthew 5:21-30.
He knew us well, didn't he? After forming our thoughts along any issue or contest, our next inclination is to begin forming opinions against those who see the thing differently. Many of us believe that if you are for something you must be against those on the other side. We find it easier to place things into categories, so being able to fit people inside of 'little boxes' is one of the lazy ways our minds would prefer to work: he is a conservative, she is a tree-hugger, they are all free-spenders. It is not fair, it is not correct, and it is certainly not 'of Jesus' to try and hold a person captive in a little box. Jesus publicly proclaimed that he came to do the very opposite when he said, "He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free," in Luke 4.
In just the one issue of voting alone, we find where our tendencies and our nature can cause us to stumble. I am talking about sin; the very sin that leads us away from the Father and separates us from the path to life eternal. I pray that we guard our hearts and our speech. I pray that we avoid placing people in little boxes, or even large ones. This is not the way of Jesus and we are either with him or we are not. Let us not be led into temptation over something as passing as an election.
Grace and Peace, Scott