A recent reader of this blog wrote in and I posted the letter. Because there are several issues to be discussed, not the least of which are the different kind of advantages each candidate brings to the table, I thought I’d begin the response today.
On November 4 I will vote; in the evening Kris and I will watch the TV as it enters into the lather of not only reporting news but making the news.
More importantly, on November 5 I will get up and go about my business no matter who gets elected. There will be people who need to hear about Jesus; there will be people who are suffering from systemic injustices; there will be people abusing power; there will be good reasons to drink coffee and eat lunch with colleagues and prepare dinner and go for a walk with Kris before supper. Changing Presidents will not end those needs and those problems and those parts of my life. So, my task as a Christian is to follow Jesus by loving God and loving others as well as I can. Changing Presidents won’t change that one bit. I don’t see that either candidate has the intent of depriving us of these things.
I put this another way: I won’t go to bed deliriously happy with the President I want or wake up deliriously happy with the President I want. Nor will I go to bed depressed or get up depressed if it happens to be the candidate I did not want. I’ll get up the way I do any other day and simply know that in a little over two months we’ll be doing these very things and working toward the same kingdom goals no matter who is President. In fact, we’ll be doing these things with a new President. That in itself will make 2009 a bit different.
Now one more way of saying this: my eschatology, or my hope, is not in who will be the next President. I hope in the power of the gospel that flows from God’s good graces toward us humans. I hope in the God who designs that gospel; I hope in the Christ who embodies that gospel; and I hope in the Spirit who empowers that gospel. And I hope also in the Church whose task it is daily to live out the gospel and draw all into its saving graces. I don’t hope in the next President. I think that is idolatrous. In fact, hoping in the next President is the first step toward idolizing empire.
So my friend, I approach this election as a Christian who finds it important, significant, and incredibly fascinating, but who also finds it not as important as the task Jesus has given to us as his followers.
This doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter. It does matter who we vote for, and I’ll begin to explain what is going on in my head about who I will vote for in the days ahead. Stay tuned.