146 …2Put not your trust in rulers nor in any child of earth, *Psalm 146 Lauda anima mea
for there is no hope in them.
Holy Scripture is very clear that we are not to put our trust in rulers (Psalm 146:3). This does not absolve us the responsibility to seek rulers who are trustworthy, but rather reminds us that all leaders will, inevitably, fail us in some ways. Those who believe that their political agenda, the politicians they support and the platform they sign off on will usher in the Golden Age dabble in the mother of all sins, idolatry. We can take our political beliefs seriously and with passion, but in the end, the salvation of the world is the free gift of Christ, not something which can be legislated or voted on.
Should your neighbor’s vote differ from yours, ascribe that difference to the highest and best values your neighbor believes in, not to the lowest and basest element of their nature.
Vote your conscience, but remember that you are voting for an elected public servant, not for the Messiah. Should your neighbor’s vote differ from yours, ascribe that difference to the highest and best values your neighbor believes in, not to the lowest and basest element of their nature. Holy Scripture reminds us that there is no security in the things of this world and that we are to be deeply suspicious of those who cry “peace” when there is no peace (Jeremiah 6:14). We are placed in the midst of things which are passing away (I Corinthians 7:31) and to rely too much on those things is to place ourselves in the control of the world.
Christians are people whose eyes are set on higher things, citizens of a higher kingdom. The Christian imperative to love our neighbor extends not just to those we agree with, nor does it end when times are tough. How we bear ourselves in the “changes and chances of this world” (Book of Common Prayer) speaks volumes about the depth of our faith.
As Christians we dream more boldly, proclaiming a vision of the world in which God loves, offering new and more abundant life even to those who are easily misled, bribed or disobedient. If all voices are welcomed at the table in America, all voices can be redeemed.
If we fall into the hand-wringing notion that America is built on economic stability, we falsify both history and our best notions of ourselves as a people. America is built on the audacious dream that we can trust the wisdom of our neighbors to make decisions which affect us all; that even the neighbors we find oddest and most wrong have something of abiding value to add to the national dialogue. As Christians we dream more boldly, proclaiming a vision of the world in which God loves, offering new and more abundant life even to those who are easily misled, bribed or disobedient. If all voices are welcomed at the table in America, all voices can be redeemed. A few bumps along the way, even if those bumps cost billions of dollars or cause the government we prefer to lose an election, are nothing compared to the grandeur of that vision!
Political systems can be filled with recriminations and blame; the current economic environment may be volatile or worse, perched on the brink of a serious crisis. However, we are called to be a people whose every waking moment is marked by virtues, by faith, hope and love, not a people immersed in cynicism, fear and selfishness.
Our task is to seek the peace which the world cannot give, to pray with those who differ from us, to work for the best outcomes while humbly remembering that we are less than 100% correct and our opponents are more than 0% right. Our task is to be voices of peace and sanity and true Christianity in a world which seeks to use the mantle of the Kingdom of God as a marketing ploy for the Kingdom of this World.
Generosity is not an option, but a commandment – generosity of both heart and of resources. Patience is not an option, but a commandment – patience with our neighbors and our national process. And humility is not an option, but a commandment – the humility to acknowledge when we have been complicit in a system which has substituted prosperity for justice, stability for humility, and growth for God; the humility to work for what we honestly believe is in the best interest of the whole country and world while acknowledging that none of us knows with absolute certainty what is the best option,.
Elections are a time for prayer and for conspicuous virtue. Voting with knowledge and a sense of justice can be a truly effective way to aid society by acting in concert, even if it’s not the only way or the best way at all times. There is no time to waste in fear. May God grant us all the grace to remember and behave accordingly.
This article is a result of a conversation I had with Fr. Steve Wilson (Grace Episcopal Church, Carthage) during a long-ago election year. I am very appreciative of the time he took to visit with me on the subject. Conversation can often be formational, fortifying and comforting.
And, by the way, please contact the diocesan formation office if you would like a template to make your own “I’m an Episcopalian and I Voted Faithfully” buttons or stickers.