Millions of Americans are headed to the polls today all across America to exercise our privilege of choosing a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. I am not under patriotic illusions that the people have as much say in things as we like to believe, but on this day, all of the media manipulations, posturing, corruption, and lies takes a back seat. On this day, the American people get to walk into a voting booth and choose. We vote our values, our hopes, our fears, and our own personal agendas and preferences. Much has gone into forming our opinions. Billions of dollars have been spent on campaigns, ads, and the political machine that stretches into every crevice of life in America. But, today, the people step past all of that and do what our Founders intended. We get to vote.
I have maintained for sometime that politics is actually spiritual, that it is an arena like marriage, relationships, our families, work, and our communities where people express what they beleive about life and how one can best live. In our vote, we attempt to throw our allegiance behind a particular worldview and vision of the future. Perhaps we are trying to mitigate some real or imagined evil or deal with some problem that we fear is getting out of control. Candidates run on the premise that they can represent our hopes and allay our fears and we invest them with that authority. It is all spiritual because almost everything that we hope for and fear finds its root in the human condition and our reconciliation or separation from God - whether we know it or not.
I am convinced that every person on the planet asks four questions:
- Who/What is God or Ultimate Reality?
- Who is Man and what is our purpose?
- What has gone wrong with the world?
- How do we fix it?
These four questions form the basis for every world religion and and social and political movement. The Political process in America is simply a secular version of this attempt to find meaning, assess what is wrong, and to fix it. But, if it fills the role of religion for many (and all that you have to do is look at the political rallies and the intense hope that people place in getting their candidate elected) then it must spring from a spiritual desire for connection, safety, security, and a hopeful future. I think that we bring many of our spiritual longings to the political process and we open ourselves up for discussion of spiritual matters when we talk about politics and what we are going to do to address the problems of the world. Many people today will be expressing their most basic hope and confidence today as they vote.
As a Christian, I know that it is important that I fulfill my civic duty of participating in this conversation. However, I know that it does not provide me with the answers I seek. There is no savior in Washington. What ails us will not be fixed in Congress. We can participate in representing Christian ethics and values as we stand for justice and truth - and we should do that. But, we must recognize that while we are stand prophetically and point to Truth, that it will often be rejected because the carnal man cannot accept the things of God. While we prophetically tell the truth and stand for justice and righteousness and seek to protect the weak and vulnerable, we must also recognize that the real salvation that we are looking for can only be found in Christ. We live in the land "in-between" as ambassadors and witnesses to another Kingdom - a Kingdom of Heaven that touches earth through how we live and act and through the way we tell a different kind of story.
Vote. Pray. Engage in dialogue. Love your neighbor as yourself and put his interests above your own. And, always point to Christ, through whom the whole creation is being reconciled back to God.