JESUS ONLY: Part 2 (Day 12)
How Will You Vote?
Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. - Col. 3:14 (NRSV)
I have a confession. I did not vote in the last presidential election (2016).
I just could not bring myself to cast a vote for either candidate because I believed each had serious flaws that would impact either’s ability to lead our country well. In my opinion, both parties failed to provide legitimate platforms and candidates.
Eventually, it occurred to me that maybe I was expecting too much from our political system. I was looking for values and attributes that it simply could not deliver.
The primary role of government is the allocation of power. Ideally, it is to distribute power fairly and justly. It is to maintain law and order. It is to look out for the common good.
The primary role of God’s kingdom is the allocation of love. It is to express mercy and compassion. It is in constant pursuit of reconciling relationships. It is to sacrifice for one another.
There is a clear order for a Christ-follower. Jesus says the two greatest commandments are to love God with everything we have and to love our neighbors (Mark 12:28-34 paraphrase). Jesus also said to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all other things will follow (Matt. 6:33 paraphrase).
When asked about taxation, Jesus’s response is our clue on how to view government. His answer strikes me as nonchalant toward government (give to Caesar what is Caesar’s) followed by giving top priority to the kingdom (give to God what is God’s). Nowhere in scripture do we see Jesus trying to topple or reform government. What we do see is Jesus ushering in a new order, God’s kingdom of love, and asking for our allegiance to it.
Paul continues this theme by telling the Colossians “to set their minds on things above, not on things that are of the earth” (Col. 3:1).
"Then in Colossians 3:14 Paul offers the capstone to the entire chapter so far. We who have set our minds on things above, whose life is secure and hidden in Christ, who have put our old sinful self to death, who live in unity with people who are different from us, who have clothed ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, are now to put on the final garment: love. (Excerpt from James Bryan Smith’s book,Hidden in Christ.)
As we approach another presidential election season (2020), do your homework. Cast your vote as you see fit. Be careful how much hope you place in the outcome. Realize that government can never live up to our hopes.
Make sure you “cast your vote” for the kingdom daily by putting on the garment of love. Love God. And allow His love to renew you so that it flows to others.
Above all, love is most important.
What emotions are raised in me when I think about our government and the political process? What clues might that give me into how much hope and faith I am placing in it?
What can I do to restore and model civility in the political process and/or political conversations with others I know?
How would I rate my allegiance to the kingdom of God? Is it more important than my allegiance to my country? How do others see me?
Abba/Father, You are the supreme authority over all of life and creation. Although You have allowed humans to rule and govern themselves, you have a higher calling for us to serve your kingdom. Give me the wisdom to discern both. Help us to be salt and light in our political systems, and more importantly, show us how to be agents of your love to others. Forgive me when I place my hope and trust in man-made structures rather than in You. Continue to grow in me Your love that is patient, kind, does not envy or boast, is not proud, is not rude or self-seeking, not easily angered, keeps no record of wrongs, hates evil, delights in truth, always protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres. Amen.