The above cartoon pretty well sums up my feelings about this election. And if the polls are any indication, those feelings are mirrored by many people in this country. There are no good options, at least between the two major party candidates.
My feelings of angst are heightened this election because of my faith. I want to be able to vote with a clear conscience. But how do you do that, especially considering the two major party candidates that have been selected? One candidate supports the murder of children for the sake of convenience. The other claims to have no need of God’s forgiveness and speaks flippantly about “taking out the families of terrorists,” among other things.
I could vote for a third party candidate, but then people say that vote is really just a vote for Candidate A or Candidate B. What’s a Christian to do? After months of batting this question around in my head, here is what I’ve settled on for the moment.
Much of my angst stemmed from putting too much stock in this election to begin with. I had bought the lie that this election really matters. That it is the most important election ever. That the fate of the country hangs on who gets elected on November 8th. I had unconsciously bought the lie that we are electing a savior. And because I had bought all of that, I had lost sight of some very important truths.
Truth #1 – Every election, we are voting for fellow sinners not saviors. Politicians, like the rest of us, are sinners. None of them are saviors. Some are merely better at hiding their true selves from public view than others. What makes this election special is that both candidates are really bad at hiding their true selves. There is one savior sent from God. And Jesus, God’s savior, boldly proclaimed that His kingdom (and, by virtue of my adoption into His family through baptism, my kingdom) is not of this world.
Truth #2 – This election doesn’t really matter. It just doesn’t. Fear of the results of the election seem to be driving much of the talk about the candidates. Fear of the loss of freedoms. Fear of the loss of legislated morality. Fear about appointments to the Supreme Court. Fear of persecution. Fear of the unknown and unknowable future. Jesus, however, reminded His disciples who were fearful of a difficult future, “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28) No politician has the power to undo what Jesus has done. Your place in God’s kingdom is secure. Don’t worry about the difficulties that may come in the kingdoms of this world.
Truth #3 – As followers of Jesus we aren’t called to build nations, but spread the Gospel and do good for our neighbors. We are not called to infiltrate the countries we find ourselves in and “take them over for God.” Nowhere in the New Testament will you find the call to fix up Rome into a “Christian nation,” whatever that means. We are called to honor and submit to those governing authorities that God has put in place. (Romans 13:1-3) Even those we consider to be evil, we are called to honor. And disobedience is permitted only if they command us to disobey God.
We have the privilege and duty, living in this country, of selecting our governing authorities. That is a weighty responsibility. This means that I can vote with a clear conscience for the candidate that I think will do the best job ensuring justice in this nation. I can vote for the candidate that I believe will do the most good for the poor and distressed. I’m not called to vote for the candidate who does the best job at appearing moral. At the end of the day I can let Rome be Rome, and busy myself with what Jesus has left for me to do: preach the good news of God’s kingdom come in Jesus, and help those in need around me.
There is one more thing I’ll keep in mind as election day approaches.
“I will praise the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praises to God while I have my being.
Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish.
Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them.” Psalm 146:2-5
Have no fear. Be at peace. Unless Jesus comes again before that day, on November 9th nothing important will have changed. The sun will still rise. The stars will still shine. And nothing can dampen the love of God for you that is in Christ Jesus, our Lord.