Nov 07, 2022Formational thoughts on politics, elections, and fear

Formational thoughts on politics, elections, and fear

Kim Snodgrass Three-minute read.   Resources

Holy Scripture is very clear, we are not to put our trust in rulers (Psalm 146:3) … However, this does not absolve us the responsibility to seek rulers who are trustworthy. As election time is upon us yet again, and all that goes with it, the following might help us maintain a Christian perspective.

  • All leaders will, inevitably, fail us in some ways.
  • Believing any political agenda, platform, or politician will usher in a Golden Age dabbles close to the mother of all sins, idolatry.
  • It is important to 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.
  • 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 your own, ascribe that difference to the highest and best values your neighbor believes in, not to the lowest and basest elements of their nature.

Elections are a time for prayer and for conspicuous virtue. There is no time to waste in fear. May God grant us all the grace to remember and behave accordingly.

Christians are people whose eyes are set on higher things. 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.

Falling into the hand-wringing notion that America is built on economic stability falsifies both history and our best notions of ourselves as a people. America is built on an audacious dream that we can trust the wisdom of our neighbors to make decisions which affect us all (democracy), and that even the neighbors we find oddest and most wrong have something of abiding value to add to the national dialogue.

As Christians we envision a world in which God loves, offering new and more abundant life even to those who are venal and disobedient. If all voices are welcomed at the table in America, all voices can be redeemed, glorified and lifted to splendor in Christ. Perhaps 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 beauty of that vision!

Political systems can be filled with recriminations and blame. The current economic environment may be volatile or perched on the brink of crisis, but 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, to be voices of peace and sanity and true Christianity in the world.

Elections are a time to bear in mind –

  • Generosity is not an option, but a commandment … generosity of 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.

And in case you’re interested, a grassroots network of Episcopalians across the country is dedicated to carrying out the Baptismal Covenant call to “strive for justice and peace” through the active ministry of public policy advocacy by helping influence the development of legislation and policy of the U.S. federal government on critical issues. Check into their Advocacy Resources, Alerts, and Posts from the Hill.

Elections are a time for prayer and for conspicuous virtue. There is no time to waste in fear. May God grant us all the grace to remember and behave accordingly.

Kim Snodgrass is Assistant to the Bishop for Christian Formation.

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