Yeah, sorry for the tease, but I don’t think so.
With the polls closing tomorrow here’s some pastoral, Kingdom-focused wisdom from yours truly….
Every now and then I flirt with the belief that Christians should opt out of campaigns and elections, let the chads and voting booths, the empty soundbites and inane talking points lie fallow for a season.
It’s not that I don’t think certain issues are important. It’s not that I don’t think Christians should be engaged in the concerns of their given context.
It’s that I suspect a mass Christian opt-out on Election Day might be a helpful and cleansing reminder to our politicians that:
A) the means by which they engage political conversation couldn’t be more divergent from our faith convictions and
B) the notion that the teachings of Jesus fit perfectly into either party is what the Church has usually referred to as heresy. Or, even, idolatry.
After all, issues and elections may be important, but only Jesus brings the Kingdom.
And Jesus’ plan to heal the world is neither the Democratic or Republican platform but the Church.
The extent to which that notion scares you or strikes you as naive exposes both Jesus’ unreasonableness and your own lack of faith.
Every election year when well-meaning Christians either ask me voting advice or just post their silliness about ‘voting the bible’ on Facebook, I’m reminded of Martin Luther’s maxim that he’d rather have an effective pagan leader than an incompetent Christian at the reins of government. Since I’ve recently gotten cable once again, I’m painfully aware that the nation has its full of idiot Christians.
When it comes to me, I’ve got conservative Tea Party types in my congregation convinced that I go to sleep at night beneath a portrait of Che, Mao and Jesus arm-in-arm. And I’ve got liberal Democrats who think I’m raging right-to-lifer. There are military folks who think I’m a Mennonite in every way but name, and left-leaning activists who think my reluctance to believe in ‘rights’ language is proof I’m a backwards fascist.
Without trying to sound self-congratulatory, such ambiguity makes me, I think, a Christian.
Or at the very least, a pastor.
As examples like Pope Benedict and Archbishop Rowan Williams point out, Christian convictions do not easily lend themselves to party affiliation despite those parties’ drooling eagerness to adopt ‘God language’ into their platforms.
Which is to say, as a follower of Jesus, you shouldn’t really care for whom I vote just as I, frankly, do not care for whom you do.
As Jesus might say, ‘render unto Caesar …’ or maybe he would say…’the law and the prophets do not hang on…’ or maybe he would say…’put away the sword…’ or how about ‘the Kingdom of God is like a tiny-not-as-significant-as-your-paid-advertising-mustard seed…or might he warn ‘you cannot serve God and Mammon…’?
Despite what all the campaign crap in the mail and the hyperbolic rhetoric on Fox News and MSNBC would suggest, the best posture for Christians on election day just might be ambivalence.
Because for Christians the word ‘election’ refers to being chosen by God to serve as a witness to others that Jesus is Lord.
For Christians, the word ‘election’ should be a reminder that we’re called to be a People within a people who embody not the Bill of Rights but the more strenuous and life-giving Sermon on the Mount.
And the more Christians double-down on ‘election day’ and act as though life as we know it will cease to exist if ___________ [doesn’t] gets elected is but proof their faith is in the empire and not the Lordship of Christ. Jesus will continue to reign as Lord over the Earth no matter who wins our elections. Seriously, he will. Just as his Kingdom- not our empires- will continue to be the only hope for the world.