Election season always seems to be kicking around in the U.S. Two years to decide on the next president does strike me as rather extravagant. How do other countries manage to do it in a matter of weeks? It’s a gigantic distraction in the U.S. You’d hardly know that Obama was president, and will be for another 10 months. Government business is at a standstill. I suppose that’s a good thing inasmuch as it limits the damage they can do.
I’ve always been deeply distressed by pastors getting into the political act – especially from the pulpit. The separation of church and state should cut both ways. But more and more U.S. politicians, especially on the right, feel a need to parade their “Christian” credentials, and a large percentage of the electorate weighs the “Christian” bona fides of candidates when choosing a candidate for office. I can’t imagine any notion farther from the gospel message than this one. Jesus enjoins us to be IN the world, but not OF it. Politics is most decidedly OF the world. John’s gospel is very clear. At his trial Jesus has this to say (John 18:35-36):
35 Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests delivered You to me; what have You done?” 36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.”
What could be clearer? The Christian (follower of Christ) should be concerned with the kingdom of God and NOT with earthly nations. In other words, pastors should butt out of politics.
Should pastors vote? Would Jesus vote if he were on earth today? My first question is purely rhetorical; do what you want. My second can be answered with a resounding NO. As for me, I don’t vote and almost never have. I have voted precisely once in my life. When I was 19 the U.K. government lowered the voting age from 21 to 18, thus in one fell swoop granting me the right to vote, and robbing me of a traditional 21st birthday celebration. I was in the sixth form at the time, and a big change came in the mood of my classmates. We began talking about the coming elections, who we would vote for, and whatnot. It was all heady stuff. On election day, feeling very empowered, I went to the polls and cast my vote. That was the first and last time.
Now I am registered to vote in the U.K., U.S., and Argentina. I feel that it is important to be registered so as to underscore the fact that I don’t vote as a matter of choice, not because I am ineligible. When I am in Argentina I am required by law to go to a designated polling station about once every two years. Failure to do so incurs a big fine. But you can still avoid voting if you put something other than an official voting slip in the envelope provided. If you simply turn in an empty envelope your vote is cast for the current leader, so you have to deliberately spoil your ballot to avoid casting a vote. It’s all a nuisance, but I used to do it when called upon.
The general circus that is world politics holds my attention from time to time, and, of course, I have to do what various governments ask of me. I “render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s.” But my duty is to God, not to Caesar. I don’t put my faith in governments to do God’s work. They are largely incapable.
When it comes to aiding the poor and sick, governments should play a part, and I do my bit to kick them into it. They’re also good at building roads and such – now and again. But it’s a mistake to think that governments serve the people. They don’t. They serve themselves and the interests of their friends, and it’s only by accident that the people get what they need. So . . . all power to you if you want to support a particular candidate, get out the vote, and all the rest of it. I’m putting my effort elsewhere.
To be continued . . .