How does the follower of Christ engage the democratic elections of their nation?
Just writing that question feels like a powder keg that is primed to be misunderstood. Why? Simple. I just combined the two topics that are not to be discussed separately or together in public.
I have purposefully withheld my voice from the flood of opinions regarding this election season. Through this entire process of nominations, delegates, and the media saturation I felt that my voice was not necessary. It may still prove to be unnecessary.
What caused me to change my mind?
Over the past four Sundays we at First Presbyterian Church have looked at the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. His life and writings directly challenge the belief that a follower of Christ is supposed to sit back, stay quiet, and pray for God’s best. At no point in the series did we see Bonhoeffer declare that prayer is not essential. If anything he maintained that in his efforts to live out the Sermon on the Mount he believed in an increase of personal and corporate prayer in one’s life. Prayer is essential, but for Bonhoeffer public action is necessary in the face of violent oppressive hate filled politics.
When it comes to our voice and vote as followers of Christ we have a responsibility to place our full hope not in a politician, but in God who is the Lord of life. A politician shall not be our savior. We already have one. Therefore, we prayerful cast our vote praying that they who are elected will head the wisdom and Word of God.
Here is something that I learned from Bonhoeffer and scripture that I believe we should personally practice. Can we reconcile the rhetoric of the one seeking office, including their policies (if that is known), with Jesus teachings. Revisit the Sermon on the Mount, like Bonhoeffer did, and ask how does this critique or support my hopes for the public square and those seeking to serve it?
Lastly, we must approach all of this loosely. By this I mean that if God is our hope, our life, our provider, then election results will not rob us of the joy we have in and from GOD.
There is more, but for today let these words from Jesus (Matthew 5:1-11) close out this reflection;
5 When Jesus[a] saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2 Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5 “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely[b] on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.