Tuesday, November 4, 2008

election day

Election Day. Almost two years of campaigning, and the time has finally arrived. A new president will be elected this evening. American policy – and world policy for that matter – will begin to shift. With a new administration comes new direction. And for many people, a whole lot seems to be at stake. And people feel like a lot’s at stake because they care. They care deeply about “the issues” – the war, the economy, the environment, healthcare, poverty, the elderly, abortion, capital punishment, government spending, and foreign policy – to just scratch the surface.

Elections remind us how broken we are. There wouldn’t be “issues” to deal with if we weren’t broken creatures in desperate need for God’s redemption. Scripture wouldn’t point to a “time of universal restoration” if things on earth hadn’t fallen apart (Acts 3:21). And regardless of whether or not we think God has a solution, we’re all aware of the problem. We want things to be fixed. We want things to be put right. And this is precisely why we feel that so much is at stake in our elections – because politicians promise a solution. Politicians promise that their plan is the key.

And so whether we “barack” the vote or buy a ticket for “the straight talk express,” there are two errors I want us to avoid at the polls today.

First, don’t think that your faith in Jesus shouldn’t inform how you vote. It should. Everything is spiritual. Our faith should inform everything we do. Every political issue is a spiritual one as well. Because everything is spiritual. God is infinitely more concerned with “the issues” than we are. And because of that, your vote matters. And your vote can’t be divorced from your faith in Jesus’ Lordship.

Second, don’t think that one of the candidates can singlehandedly fix our world and restore our nation. With the presidency comes power – and with power is the potential for good and evil. But biblically speaking, fixing things is the Messiah’s job description. Only the Messiah can adequately “deal with” all the issues. And to think, even subconsciously, that one of our candidates for president is an agent of God sent to reestablish God’s rule on earth is to fire Jesus and to give his job to a broken, human politician. And what’s amazing is that Christians – liberals and conservatives – do this all the time. And the bible calls it idolatry.

That being said, politics is important. And the reason politics is important is because the gospel is a political message. The “kingdom” of God is a political phrase. The gospel, in a nutshell, is that Jesus is Lord – that God is king – and that one day God’s kingdom will be all in all. In other words, the coming of God’s Kingdom is God’s solution. It’s about things being fixed, about things being put right, once and for all. It’s about God’s plan being the key. And on election days, this is a freeing thing to remember. Because regardless of whom we elect, God continues to prepare “the time of universal restoration.” And when God’s day comes, the Unelected Official, God’s Sovereign Messiah, will “judge between many peoples, and shall arbitrate between strong nations far away; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Micah 4:3). In other words, there won’t be any more “issues” to deal with.

UNTIL THURSDAY: Pray for our nation’s election.

“Almighty God, the Giver of all power and privilege: Guide the people of the United States in the election of a new president; that, by faithful administration and wise laws, the rights of all may be protected and our nation enabled to fulfill your purposes; through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN” (BCP, 822, changes mine)

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