The presidential debates of 2016 have just wrapped up.

According to the Nielsen ratings, well over 84 million people tuned in to watch the first one on September 26th. If you have not been one of the millions watching, here is a recap in a single paragraph:

Clinton accused Trump of some stuff, which he denied. Trump accused Clinton of some stuff, which she also denied. Both think they are the ideal candidate for POTUS while the other is a joke. Depending on who you ask, either Trump dominated the debates or Clinton mopped the floor with Trump. Most that choose to engage in political conversation will tell you that one of the candidates is going to ruin our nation and the other is going to get us back where we need to be.

Here is my big takeaway from not only the debate, but almost all of the recent election campaigns you and I have been alive to witness. Most candidates spend the majority of their time, resources, words, and effort telling us what and who they are against rather than what they stand for. They also seem to be against different things depending on their opponent and whether or not it’s an election year. You may have heard the words “smear campaign” used to describe these tactics. Many of us used this technique back in the 2nd grade. Telling a classmate he was dumb somehow made me feel smarter. Making fun of a certain boy in our school made me seem just a little cooler.

We can learn from these politicians! We can learn what NOT to do. As Christ followers, it is not our job to let the world know what we stand against; rather, we should be showing the world what we are for. We waste so much time and energy criticizing those things we disagree with rather than standing for what we believe in. We all get upset when “prayer is taken out of school”, but how many of us are really praying with and for our kids at home daily? We are outraged when a homosexual couple is allowed to marry, but how much time are we investing in our young engaged and newlywed couples? We bash those that kneel and dishonor our country when then National Anthem is played, but it’s OK for us to stay on the couch and finish our beer while it plays before the game we are watching on TV.  We engage in gossip and slanderous online conversations in order to tell others how they are evil and should be more like us “Christians”. Let’s not become those kinds of Christians.

I don’t remember where I heard it, but I want to share what may possibly be the simplest, yet most powerful words to live by:  “Don’t do stupid things in the name of Jesus!”

As we continue in what will likely be one of the nastiest elections ever, don’t do or say stupid things in the name of Jesus! Your life must still be about following Him before anything else, and holding His authority higher than, yes, even our nation’s constitution.

Be known for what you stand for, not what you stand against. Be known for those things because you live them out, not because you talk about them.

So who should Christians vote for?

We should vote for the person we feel would do the best job running our country. Educate yourself and pray about it, asking God to make it clear to you who you should cast a vote for. Use Biblical teachings to help you decide who is best for our nation. For some of you that will be Donald Trump, for some Hilary Clinton, for some Gary Johnson, and for others a different independent candidate. However it turns out, don’t let it be yet another thing we allow to divide us as God’s people. The ability to unite as a nation and together decide who will be president is one of the rights we should relish in. Let’s not turn this time of unity into a mark of division from each other. After all, Jesus said that people would know we were Christ followers by the way we love our neighbors (and not just the ones who agree with you). (John 13:34-35)

How are you loving your neighbors this election season? Like a disciple of Jesus or like a politician?