Getting It Right
If you’re anything like me, you’re less than thrilled that it’s an election year in the United States. Long gone are the blissful days of scrolling through social media to find stunning pictures of food. The food is gone. The unrelenting election machine ate all of the food. Instead, you’ll find a veritable feast of political advertisements, endorsements, and hot takes. For the next several months, as everyone reaches across the table to dish up their chosen candidate, you’ll have to make a choice. What political affiliation, if any, is going on your plate?
Honestly, I find this question to be absolutely dreadful. Coming from someone who definitely kinda likes democracy, isn’t that strange? Why is the prospect of participating in a democratic election so daunting? As a follower of Jesus, is it appropriate for me to feel this way? What, exactly, is my role supposed to be in all of this, anyway?
I think much of the dread stems from the pressure that I feel to “get it right,” so to speak. After all, who wants to cast their vote for the wrong candidate? Well, nobody. Or, perhaps more to the point, nobody wants to feel like they’ve had a hand in electing the wrong leader. As a result, we live in a society full of people who are constantly defending, with varying degrees of intensity, the public servants for which they voted, even when those servants fail to accurately represent them. In the two-party system of the United States, this kind of voter behavior isn’t unusual; it’s normative. We want to “get it right.” We want to feel the glory of being “on the right side.”
I’m reminded of the story found in 1 Samuel chapter 8, in which the elders of Israel demand that Samuel appoint a king over them. When Samuel warns them of the harsh ways in which a king will reign, the people refuse to listen and persist in their rejection of the Lord in verses 19-20:
“No! But there shall be a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.”
God knew what a human king would bring upon his people. And in an act of tough love, he instructed Samuel to give them exactly what they wanted. A king, just like all of the other nations. A flawed, human leader.
So much for “getting it right.”
God isn’t running for the presidency in 2020. As a result, you will not get this one right. Are you voting for candidate A? That’s too bad. How about candidate B? Ouch. Decide not to vote at all? Yikes.
Cast or don’t cast your vote, and then be consistent. Regardless of who wins, speak honestly about their successes and failures. Don’t look to a political party or leader to represent you - to go out before you and fight your battles. Jesus Christ, the holy and righteous son of God, represents you. Why trade the perfect king for a shallow, compromised imitation?
After all, the food pictures are going to be back before you know it. The political furor will die down and fade into history. But God, sovereign over all things, will be on his throne forever and ever.
And he’ll be getting it right.