If you’ve seen the video at college humor featuring all sorts of celebrities sarcastically saying “don’t vote”, and you think that’s where I’m going with this, you would be mistaken.
I’m actually telling you not to vote today.
If you are a Christian, the best option is not McCain, and its not Obama. The best option is to choose to live the life that you think people should live in the world.
God never desired human government’s for his people. One must only read through the Old Testament to see that. The Israelites begged and begged for a King, but God warned them that they did not want that. Yet the temptation to be like the rest of the world consumed them, and God granted their request. Let’s go to the text in 1 Samuel 8
1 When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as judges for Israel. 2 The name of his firstborn was Joel and the name of his second was Abijah, and they served at Beersheba. 3 But his sons did not walk in his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice.
4 So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. 5 They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways; now appoint a king to lead [a] us, such as all the other nations have.”
6 But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the LORD. 7 And the LORD told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. 8 As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. 9 Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do.”
10 Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking him for a king. 11 He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will do: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. 12 Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. 15 He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. 16 Your menservants and maidservants and the best of your cattle [b] and donkeys he will take for his own use. 17 He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. 18 When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, and the LORD will not answer you in that day.”
19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. 20 Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.”
21 When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated it before the LORD. 22 The LORD answered, “Listen to them and give them a king.”
Then Samuel said to the men of Israel, “Everyone go back to his town.”
This a a turning point in the story of Israel. God had set things up for their benefit… but they didn’t trust God. They saw their counter culture as backwards, they gave lip service to trusting God, but thought, “maybe we should have a little backup in case God doesn’t protect us.” They rejected their true, holy, and just King for a corruptible, power hungry self centered human one.
If we remember, the Kings of Israel brought just those bad things that God warned. Wars, high taxes, poverty for some and vast wealth for others. Slavery. And Israel, a nation that God intended to be a City on a Hill, placed in the middle of the known world at that time, became just like other nations. And eventually, their great Kingdom was overthrown by powers greater than their own.
Thus begins the exile.
Through years and years different groups invaded and conquered, or displaced the people of God. When Jesus came on the scene, the Roman’s brutal occupation of Israel was fresh on the minds of those who claimed faith in Jehovah. They knew that this was exile, and they hoped for the day when a Messiah would arise, lead them to victory against the Romans, and bring back the right status to the people of God.
But, that’ wasn’t exactly God’s plan.
Yes, Jesus came to fulfill the law, to institute the new jubilee, to set the oppressed free, to preach good news to the poor… just like the prophets foretold. But, the prophets also wrote of this day when “swords would be beaten into plowshares, and spears into pruning hooks” when the shalom of God would come in full. And Jesus fulfilled that.
Rather than doing things the way we wish them to be, by leading an army to defeat the evil Roman empire, and bring about the reign of God (as he was tempted by Satan in the desert) the logic of God’s revolution, while brilliant, seemed foolish to many. Jesus preached and taught truth, lived a blameless life, and then the rulers killed him.
To his followers, it seemed all had been lost. Messiah’s don’t die. Messiah’s lead their nation to victory. Jesus wasn’t the messiah. He was just like all the other failed revolutionaries, eventually killed by the Romans.
But. God. Wasn’t. Done. Yet.
On the third day, Jesus was raised, in the flesh, but a new kind of flesh and his resurrection marks the beginning of a new age, the center of history, where God begins to renew the creation. And those of us that profess faith in Jesus have a mission. And empty tomb means a lot of things. An empty tomb, most notably, means that the principalities and powers who claim to rule us, and who use death as their greatest tool to command obedience, these powers are shown to be what they have been all along. Powerless. God’s reign is a righteous one, that does not need to operate by the ways of the world to create lasting, loving, change. It brings salvation from the oppressors in that it frees us to be God’s people, no longer fearing death, and no longer needing to use violence to save ourselves from death. Death, the main result of the fall that led to the spiral of pain and hurt in the world, has been conquered. And in that, we are given a political manifesto. But its not the same as the one the world lives by.
Its one of non violence. We have no need to use evil to try to accomplish some good. Evil always results in more evil. We are charged to live better than the world. To be perfect, as our heavenly father is perfect. That means propping up the old system, supporting it, believing that it will in any way change things or make people’s life better is futile. Our job is not to work through the methods of a fallen world, but to operate in the ways of the TRUE Kingdom. The Kingdom that lays down one’s life rather than kills for it. The Kingdom that serves and loves those that the world rejects. The Kingdom that holds nothing as their own, but freely shares to those in need. The Kingdom that stands up to the injustices perpetuated by the rulers of this world who do not share our ethic of existance. The Kingdom that acts as a prophetic witness to the world… knowing that we don’t change things by having the right plan, but things will change one day by living out what we believe to be coming.
This is why, I ask you Christians: don’t vote. Don’t put your trust in horses and chariots, in people who desire power, in people willing to use violence to acheive their goals. In people who don’t respect the least of these in our society, no matter how much money they are willing to steal from others and give away to stay in power. Trust in the Lord our God, who IS our King. Who reigns forever. And who is working to make all things new.
Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on Earth, as it is in heave.