Today is Election Day here in Britain. I’m registered to vote and plan to do so at the nursery just down the street. My voting card says that’s my spot.
I’ve voted many times in the states and have watched the process develop from the “punch cards” to the electronic screens. Remember the “hanging chads” that were such an issue with Bush’s 2000 election? I imagine that the electronic versions are much easier to deal with.
It was always a mystery to me what I’d find behind the curtain of the little booth. Presidential elections were easy. “Click here for Republican George Bush…here for Democrat John Kerry.” “Click here for a straight Republican ticket.”
That straight ticket option was really helpful because most of the time I had absolutely no idea who the rest of the candidates were. Who is Jimmy Joe Johnson and why is he running unopposed for Sherriff of Wichita County? (In the States a Sherriff is a police officer of some sort. To this day I can’t really tell you what the Sherriff does, but s/he wears a uniform and drives a Sherriff’s car. In Britain a Sherriff is a judge). There were pages and pages (screens and screens) of candidates, usually one Republican and one Democrat with the occasion Libertarian or Independent thrown in for fun. Sometimes I’d seen one of their ads on TV or in a direct mailing. But, I rarely knew what they did, much less what they stood for. Most of the time it was simple name recognition and incumbents had a distinct advantage.
Scripture is plain that governments are established and disestablished by none other than the LORD God Almighty (see Romans 13). Does God have a preference for Wichita County Sherriff? Has God already “chosen his man” for that most mysterious of elected positions? It would seem that indeed he has.
But, is the vote predetermined? If God already knows than what is our role to play? Are we simple puppets, or do we have sovereign volition?
It’s an age old question for which whole forests have been chopped to answer. I’m afraid I can’t really bring any additional light to the argument. But, I can encourage you to engage the process as a simple matter of commitment. You must decide.
I’m teaching a new members class right now and the theme is commitment. After all, what is church membership? At its root it is commitment: to Christ, His Church and His Way. That is, by joining the church we are saying we believe that Jesus is the Son of God, that he died for our sins and that he was raised to give us life, abundant life. We commit to the church he has established as his body, a real place in which he has called us to take part, and where he has prepared a place uniquely for us. And, we commit to His Way. Following him means learning a new way of life governed no longer by our incessant and impulsive fleshly desires, but by a higher law, one established for our good and for the good of the community, indeed of the world.
It is a high calling.
John Calvin argued that political service was a calling even higher than that of ministry. Those called to public service have the most important of all tasks at hand: to choose on behalf of the people and to create a godly commonwealth. Needless to say, persons doing so ought to be of the highest moral and ethical accountability. They ought to be men and women grounded in the understanding that they must carry out their duties with respect not only to their constituents, but with an ear open to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Religion in America has become a political commodity. Candidates boast about their church membership and about their supposedly deep faith. I often wonder about the sincerity of those commitments, especially when the test for office is reduced to holding the right opinions about abortion and homosexuality.
Is not one who boasts about his or her faith already far afield from the humility such faith engenders? Are they church members in name only or do they understand that church membership is not just having one’s name added to a mailing list, but is a holy commitment to Christ, his church and his Way?
Would they make decisions in the same way if they understood the distinction?
I am not so cynical to believe that none of them would. I believe that there are truly righteous men and women who strive, in their imperfect way, to honour God with their service.
I just hope I can choose the right ones today at the poll.