One of the unintended consequences of cutting the cord on our satellite dish has been the return of local commercials as we watch network television via an antenna. This time of year, local commercials means only one thing – political commercials. With almost every local official up for re-election and several key state and national races in play, my Saturday SEC on CBS was inundated with adds begging me to vote, occasionally for someone, but, more often, against someone. The timing seems about right. Races tend to turn negative in the last 10 days or so as a candidate tries to motivate his or her base to get out and vote. Negative ads all seem to turn around one key question, can my opponent be trusted? From the perspective of the ad maker, the answer should be an obvious no, and they’ll do pretty much whatever they can to ensure it.
Turning the question around trust is an interesting tactic, as once again, RCL Track 2 congregations will find themselves reading Psalm 146 during an election week. It shouldn’t take you long to realize that the Scriptures don’t have much time for modern political campaign strategies.
146:2 Put not your trust in rulers, nor in any child of earth, *
for there is no help in them.
Despite what TV and radio ads, door hangers, and an entire rainforest full of mailers might suggest, God knows that the empire is not the means to the ends of the Kingdom of God. Despite the reality that Christianity has essentially been the state religion for more than 1,600 years, followers of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob have never really been intended to fit within the parameters of the empire. Our’s is a higher calling than Republican or Democrat, but rather, as the Psalmist goes on to say “Happy are they who have the God of Jacob for their help! * whose hope is in the Lord their God”
Every election season, this seems to be harder and harder to remember. Granted, it is also increasingly clear that candidates and their supporters have no qualms with muddying up their theology with partisan politics. When any politician is made out to be on par with the eternal Word of God, things have gotten a skewed. As followers of Jesus, our call is above and beyond that fray. Our call, again in the words of the Psalmist, is to righteousness, which is defined by such actions as caring for the stranger, sustaining the orphan and the widow, and frustrating the way of the wicked.
It is ok to allow your faith to inform your vote, but when we get turned around and make our vote our faith and place our trust in the rulers of the earth, then we have lost sight of the Kingdom of God. So, pray for all candidates for political office. Vote your conscience. But always remember, that God’s kingdom and its righteousness is where your trust is more properly aligned.