Another Election Day in the United States.
After four years of promises, speeches, accusations, polls, policies, partisanship, spin-doctoring, and rhetoric.
Here we go again.
Or, I should say, here they go again. I’m a Canadian so, not my country, not my problem.
And yet somehow I have this nagging sense that it is my problem.
I spent most of my teenage years in the U.S. and I love my American friends. I have always felt camaraderie with them and the good things that their country has represented.
Most Canadians are closely connected to our traditional neighbour and ally. We are linked geographically, economically, culturally, and our citizens have friends and family on the other side of our peaceful border. So in a sense, we Canadians are powerless participants, heavily invested in a relationship with a neighbour that may or may not be mutual.
In fact I would argue that, because of the United States’ broad economic and military muscle, most countries in the world are affected by this election to some degree, either willingly or unwillingly.
So I hope and I pray that the heart of the American people will be laid bare and shown to be righteous, kind, and peaceful. And I hope and pray that the direction they choose on November 3 will be the wisest one for themselves and for the rest of us.
However we need to remind ourselves that disciples of Jesus are primarily citizens of another country. The Lord’s Prayer puts it out there plainly when Jesus prays, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”. God’s kingdom on earth is at once an invisible presence and a hope for the future. Or to put it another way, what happens around us these days is important but it isn’t the total story.
Let’s be clear, Jesus was definitely political. Not in a partisan way – he upset people by refusing to take sides in the politics of the day – but he strongly advocated for a system of equality and care for every part of his creation. His prayer was that God’s generous, loving, heavenly kingdom would become more and more present on the earth. Promoted and spread by the people of God, using the Beatitudes as their guide.
That changes everything.
It means that politics matters because people matter. Sadly, millions of people now, and through history, have been treated unjustly and have died tragically because of evil power seekers. We are not given the option of spiritually ‘bypassing’ the troubles around us with some sort of heavenly excuse.
It means that justice, kindness, beauty, righteousness are God’s intention for the world. Caring for the poor, the innocent, the helpless are major themes of the Bible. Voting is a gift that free people have been given and it is our moral responsibility to guard and use it well.
But politics is an answer, not the ultimate answer to the ills of a nation – obvious by the savage infighting and unresolved social ills. I think we all know intuitively that the only solution is open minds, changed hearts, renewed motivations … God’s Spirit in us as it is in heaven.
And that is where everything comes to rest for the people of God. Regardless what party holds power at the end of the election cycle there will be more problems, more trouble. Our ultimate hope lies well beyond mere leaders, parties, or plans.
As people of God our main task will remain unchanged: love God and our neighbour as ourselves. The priority for people of ’the Way’ is not merely our country or an election, but rather God in us, God through us.
Please take a moment with this Psalm. It is a worthwhile reminder about where our hearts should be on Election Day and every other day.
Praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord, my soul.
I will praise the Lord all my life;
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
Do not put your trust in princes,
in human beings, who cannot save.
When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
on that very day their plans come to nothing.
Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord their God.
He is the Maker of heaven and earth,
the sea, and everything in them—
he remains faithful forever.
He upholds the cause of the oppressed
and gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets prisoners free,
the Lord gives sight to the blind,
the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down,
the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the foreigner
and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.
The Lord reigns forever,
your God, O Zion, for all generations.
Praise the Lord.
– Psalm 146, NIV