Election day. There may not be any other day that so many Americans get worked up and angry over. Besides the obvious Sunday of football. While some people say that elections are becoming more “vicious” and “partisan”, I think they’ve always been that way. Last time I checked there haven’t been any pistol duels in Washington recently.
Politics can be exciting. A lot can ride on an election. We’ve seen this in the last few elections. About a third of the country despised the direction of the USA under George Bush. Now about a third of the country despises the direction of the USA under Obama. We seem to be evenly balanced in our dislike of political trends.
So if there is so much tension, anger and animosity, why do we get so worked up about politics?
For some elections and politics represent the hope of change. That’s what Obama campaigned on. Although he wasn’t the first, he might have been the best at it. For others it represents the continuation of the status quo. Their party gets to stay in power. They get to call the shots.
Ultimately it boils down to one fact: elections can have profound consequences.
So what does this mean for someone who believes in God? How do politics and faith mesh? Especially when you are living out a life of faith? I wish I had an answer for you. I don’t know how you balance the two. I don’t know if people of faith should be involved in politics. I don’t know if they should stay out of politics. There are certainly disadvantages to both choices. And there are compelling reasons to do either.
But what I do know is God warns us to be careful of believing too much in human-only solutions.
“Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
who depends on flesh for his strength
and whose heart turns away from the LORD.”
(Jeremiah 17: 5)
For many believers I think politics has taken on a primary importance because at their core, they don’t fully trust that God is in charge. They aren’t quite on board with believing that God really is acting. I recognize that paints with a broad brush. I know many Christians who are fully on board with God’s plans. But I also know many people who don’t know what it means to submit to God and trust him. And there are some days I can’t fault them for that. When we hear news of disaster, rape, murder, or other horrific things, it’s easy to wonder exactly how all this fits into some kind of “plan.”
God, though, is very clear on this. We need to trust him in all circumstances. Not just when things are running smoothly. That’s the point of the book of Job. Job needed to trust God, not because Job’s life was good, but because God is, well, God.
God hammers this point home to Jeremiah too.
“But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
whose confidence is in him.
He will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.” (Jeremiah 17: 7-8)
Jeremiah’s mission was to deliver a message of destruction and punishment to his country. That’s not easy sailing. But God reminds him – don’t place your trust in the human solution. Place your trust in my solution.
Whatever your politics, if you are a believer than it is your responsibility to put your trust in God, not in elections. Elections can be important. God may even want you to be involved. But never at the expense of your first allegiance: to the Kingdom.