I find myself frequently discouraged and disheartened by the workings of the United States political system. Though I have faith in God, who is much greater and more powerful than any leader or government, I struggle to see God's work in a system that increasingly provides justice for some rather than "justice for all." It is difficult for me to see God in leaders, political and otherwise, who do little to address the ways people are exploited daily in the wealthiest country in the world. And I wonder how much honor is being shown God by a society in which one out of every six children lives in poverty.
The presidential election season often feels like a frantic race; candidates scramble to one-up each other with new proposals, strategies to appeal to swing voters, and speeches to persuade specific populations. It is tempting to let ourselves get caught up in the drama (largely created by the media) of the race and forget why we care so deeply about the outcome. In elections, especially the presidential election, it does matter who "wins", but the way the race is run, as well as what happens in the aftermath, also requires careful attention. And when we view the political process through a biblical lens, reflecting on our own lives, the impact of elections takes on a different meaning.
It's easy to blame our leaders for what's wrong in this country. Indeed, much rides on those in office. Justice, however, doesn't fall solely on the decisions of political leaders and the work of policy makers. As people of faith, we are responsible for holding our political leaders accountable to the values our faith is built upon. We can't do that, however, without taking a closer look at our own lives, our daily decisions and commitments, and how they reflect the values with which we judge political candidates. It is always important to voice our deep dissatisfaction with political corruption and persistent systemic oppression, and to scrutinize the morals and motives of presidential candidates. Of equal importance, however, as people of faith, is to look at our own morals and values in light of the Biblical mandate to serve the poor and needy.
The presidential election is an opportunity to reflect with one another on what's important to us as people of God living together in a democratic society. How do our own actions measure up to our expectations of presidential candidates and other leaders? What can we do in our own lives to hold leaders and persons in positions of power accountable on poverty and other social issues? What are we willing to work for and against to proclaim God's love in a country sorely lacking "justice for all?"
We, as people of faith, can use this time of year as a unique opportunity to honor God. By supporting leaders and candidates who concern themselves with all of God's people, and by personally upholding the values we expect political leaders to demonstrate, we follow God's Biblical teachings while working toward a more just society. The presidential election is a good way to re-evaluate our values every four years; living out those values is a good way to honor God every day.