In just a few short days we will exercise a precious privilege and an awesome responsibility. We will cast our ballots, participating in national, state, and local elections. What a privilege we enjoy–ask people in other parts of the world. What a responsibility we have–to vote according to conscience and conviction. Please don't deny yourself the privilege or avoid the responsibility!
Unfortunately, come Tuesday evening many people will be disappointed, even within the larger Christian community of faith. Though we claim the same Lord Jesus, we are certainly not of the same mind on many things, not least on politics. With a view to the inevitable disappointment and, perhaps, disillusionment some of us may feel, I've been recalling some important principles from our Scriptures. For example the prophet reminds us "'for my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the Lord. 'As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts'" (Isa. 55: 8-9). Indeed, as the apostle Paul observes, "where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God make foolish the wisdom of the world? . . . For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strengths" (1 Cor. 1:20,25).
These Scriptures, among many others, caution us against arrogance in the wake of electoral "victory" and dispair in the wake of "defeat." We must be very careful in claiming victory for God or in concluding "God has lost." Divine ways and human ways (even when Christian) often move in different directions! While we must vote according to the best "light" we have, we remain humbled by the limitations of human perception and hopeful that God does not share our limitations even when it seems things have not turned out well.
These Scriptures warn all God's people–on the right, the left, or in the middle–not to marry God's Kingdom-agenda to any political process. We are agents of his kingdom, ultimately representing a way of being and doing that does not reduce to slogans and sound bytes. Whatever party or candidate wins, we have a King to serve and a Kingdom to model. To the Romans, embroiled in various squabbles, Paul said "for the Kingdom of God
is not a matter of . . ., but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Romans 14:17).
What a thought! Perhaps our whole-hearted attention to these primary matters of the Kingdom may accomplish more in the long run than the politics of our day. Wouldn't that be a strange way for God to work?