By Paul Koch –
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
Allegiance. Allegiance to a republic that stands boldly as a great nation under God. Allegiance that binds us together as citizens of this great country. Left-wing, right-wing, Christian, Muslim, black, Hispanic, poor and rich we are all a part of the land of the free and the home of the brave. And this Tuesday we will once again take to the polls and the rest of the world will watch as we elect the next President of the United States. Once again, we are enduring a hotly contested race. Once again, we hear the charge that this is the nastiest year yet, most divisive, and most shameful all around. Perhaps it is. Perhaps this year really is the worst we’ve ever experienced. It is certainly the most expensive. Did you know that this year they’ve estimated that over 5 billion will be spent on the political campaigns?
So what is the result of all that money? Long arguments about who is more corrupt or more disrespectful to women. I remember years ago learning about the Lincoln/Douglas debates. In 1858 Lincoln challenged Douglas for the State Senate seat in Illinois and they held 7 debates around the state. The format they used was the first candidate would speak uninterrupted for an hour. The other candidate would then have an hour and a half for a response. Then the first candidate would get a short half hour rebuttal. That is three hours of sustained reflection about how they would lead if elected. But what do we have today? Twitter wars and soundbite politics that fit into our regular news cycle between policed shootings and fashion updates.
What I have observed through all of this is a great amount of fear. People are afraid of what will happen, afraid of what the future for this republic will look like under any of the candidates running for office. It is not just those outside of the church who struggle with this fear. No, our own brothers and sisters in Christ are afraid about what is going to happen. People are afraid that the results of this election will forever change the landscape of our country. They are afraid that it will do great damage to the church and to the freedoms we enjoy. So, I thought it would be fitting for us to step away from our usual non-engagement in political affairs and actually deal with how we should vote this election day.
Perhaps you are a single-issue voter. Many people are, especially in the church. In other words, they will simply vote for the candidate and platform that most supports the sanctity of life. This, in fact, would align you with the Republican party, which is a good thing. For this is the party that promises to continue to defend religious liberty, to make sure that we can continue to preach and teach as we are called to do. Don’t get too hung up about the candidate himself; after all there is so much more at stake. There is the whole matter of Supreme Court appointments which will help establish how the law is practiced in this country for generations to come. If we want to keep ourselves safe and defeat our enemies, then this is the way we should vote. To choose someone else would be to issue in crippling taxes, a weakened military, and the destruction of innocent life.
Then again, there are good, solid reasons to support the Democratic party. We may be ashamed of their stance on reproductive rights when it allows for the killing of the unborn but they certainly seem to go out of their way to help the downtrodden of our land. They work to support social welfare programs and are willing to make big sacrifices for the sake of clean air and water as we care for this creation. In fact, time and again they have proven their willingness to stand between big corporations and the American people. Even if you don’t like their candidate, a vote for the Democratic party at least gives our country a chance to try and legitimately provide affordable healthcare for our citizens.
Or perhaps you should vote for a third party, like the Libertarian party. I mean, here in California we already know which direction the electoral college is going to go, so why not vote your displeasure by giving a boost to one who not only wants to limit the amount you are taxed but limit the social controls of the government as well. Perhaps here you could vote with a clear conscience and make an impact by challenging the status quo of the two-party system.
Now no matter how you vote, if you choose Democratic or Republican or Libertarian, most of you will be up late Tuesday night or getting up early Wednesday morning with fear and trepidation about the outcome of the election. But I have good news for you today. Good news that will affect how you should vote, good news that will help you get a good night sleep and prepare you for what is to come. For today is All Saints Day. Today is a day in the church when we remember those who now rest from their labors, those who no longer have to worry about the outcomes of election. For they have already been elected and set apart in the dwelling place of God awaiting the new heavens and new earth. Most importantly, we confess on this day that the Words and promises of God they now enjoy are the same Words and promises given to you.
St. John is given this superb image in his great revelation when he sees a multitude too great to number. There is a multitude of every tribe and nation and race gathered around the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes and singing the praises of God. This image of eternal worship and joy in the presence of God was as sharp of a contrast to the political powers threatening John’s day as it is to ours. Wars and rumors of wars, famines and pestilence, greed and slander have distorted and twisted the creation and yet here he sees something that is unshaken, something that is beautiful and triumphant. What he sees is the triumphant church of God. What he describes for you in these pages is a vision of your eternal hope, your eternal life.
This is a picture of the Gospel, a picture of the free gift that Christ has given to each and every one of you. Not because you vote a certain way, not because your party wins, not because America is the land of the free and home of the brave. No, your future, your eternity is made sure for your filthy garments of sin and shame have been washed in the blood of the Lamb. That gift changes things, it changes you and so it changes how you vote. You see, the gift of Christ sets you free. Your works do not gain you heaven, so you are not a slave to them but free to work for others. You, then, are sort of disjointed from the political pandering on TV and radio. You are a citizen of the United States of America but you also have a citizenship in heaven. The political adds succeed through fearmongering, but what do you have to be afraid of? Your future does not depend on this election. Your future is secure in Christ alone.
How, then, should you vote? Why you should vote without fear! When you vote without fear you are free to vote for someone besides yourself. You are free to vote for your neighbor. The forgiveness that is yours in Christ alone has freed you to think of one another. Think of the poor and the orphan. Think of the unborn and the small business owner. Think of those going off to college or those entering retirement and vote for them. When you leave the polls Tuesday with your “I voted” sticker proudly on display and someone asks you who you voted for, say to them, “Why, I voted for you!”
As the night rolls on, as you celebrate or weep at the election result, remember how you voted and remember why. Remember the saints who rest now from their labors. Remember that this is not the end of the story, but simply another day closer to the new heavens and new earth. Remember that your salvation is secure in Christ. Remember that you are forgiven all of your sins, you are loved and welcomed into the eternal wedding feast. Remember that no matter how you vote, the saints will still be singing as we long for the resurrection of the dead. Then we will see our Lord face to face and He will wipe away every tear from your eyes.