I’d like to tell you not to vote for President Obama because doing so makes you a baby-killer, a socialist, and unpatriotic. I’d also like to tell you not to vote for Governor Romney because doing so makes you ignorant and a bigot towards minorities and poor people. At least that is what my Facebook feed seems to tell me.*
So how should we vote? Well, I am not wise enough to tell you or anyone else whom you should vote for on November 6th, should you choose to vote. But I will tell you whom to vote for, sort of. You can relax, because it has little to do with the upcoming Presidential election. It does have to do with today, tomorrow, the next day, and even election day and beyond.
You see, without denying the importance of any election, in the grand scheme of things, this election and all other political elections matter little. There is not any election that is the most important election of our lifetime except the election God has made for us in Christ. Furthermore, regardless of who wins, God is still in control. Regardless of who wins, Jesus still reigns as Lord and Messiah, Son of God. Regardless of who wins, the Holy Spirit still remains as the promise that the age of this world is passing and the new age of God’s kingdom is being restored. That is what matters in the grand scheme of things.
Yet it is difficult to remain confident in that conviction when we are inundated with fear, whether it is fear about an unstable economy, the threat of terrorism, the moral direction of society, and so on. Daily news has become the fear-mongering prophet of doom and gloom while many politicians and pundits seem to exploit this fear for their own agenda. That is why we must vigilantly listen to the promise of God’s word to us in scripture, lest we lose sight of what is true and what is not.
Our difficulty is not unique though. The earliest Christians struggled to remain confident in their conviction when they were faced with ridicule, ostracism, and persecution. For Jewish Christians it was tempting to turn back and seek refuge in Judaism. It seemed to offer an allusion of hope, though based on the Law of Moses, and was filled with many familial adherents ready and willing to excise their enemies in the pagan world.
That allusion of hope was so enticing. Yet the writer of Hebrews will have none of this. He writes what many scholars believe is a long sermon in order to convince these Jewish Christians that Jesus is the mediator of this new age (covenant) in which there is the true hope, urging them to hold on to this hope they possess by faith. After offering examples of such faith, the writer says, “And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith” (Heb 12:2-3, NIV, italics mine).
There you have it. Fix our eyes on Jesus, not on national and international politics and the deluge of unsettling news we are flooded with on a daily basis.
Does that mean that we should not vote as Christians? That is not for me to say. Neither is it for me to say how anyone else should vote in the upcoming election should others, including you, choose to vote.
What I do want to say is that whatever we choose, let us choose to vote for Jesus first. That is, don’t let our friends, neighbors, co-worker, and Facebook friends (for those of us on Facebook) see us and think the most important thing in the world is the upcoming election. Let them see us and know that what matters most to us is the faith and hope we have in Jesus Christ. After all, Jesus is the only hope for a world swimming in bad news!
* This post has been published as “How Shall We Vote?” in Connecting, 27 (September 19, 2012), a biweekly publication of the Columbia Church of Christ.