“In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon the throne, high and lifted up…”Isaiah 6:1
The signs are all around us. We just don’t want them to be real, or at least we don’t want them to mean what they seem intent on conveying. After all, it’s that special time of year when everything appears to carry more weight. So, we take comfortable stances and head down familiar roads. Once again we are told that this election is the most important election of our lifetime, there is more at stake, more to gain if my side wins and more to lose if those idiots try and steal the election.
As Christians we sanctify the whole experience by understanding the process as one through which we love our neighbor. The right vote means the unborn will be protected, or the homeless will be cared for, or the immigrant embraced, or the veterans honored. One trip to the ballot box and the machinery moves in support of one cause over another. Rights can be trampled or preserved, income protected or stolen, this is the time to act, to make a difference, to have your voice heard.
So, we’ll head down to our polling places, stand in our socially distant lines, and cast our votes. And in doing so our guy will win, or perhaps he’ll lose. Our ideals in the great culture war will at last be vindicated or we just might face another serious setback. But we will vote all the same. We’ll participate and love through the ballot box in electing the authorities that shape and impact the lives of our neighbor.
It is what we ought to do, it is what we need to do. It’s part of being a good citizen of this great country. But it seems like every year the closer we get to election day, the better we become at ignoring the signs. The signs that tell us that this didn’t change much last time around. That making abortions illegal or promising to shelter the homeless didn’t cause anyone to love their neighbor any more than they did before. Every election cycle the whole thing seems more polarized, more entrenched than ever before. Hatred and distrust are far more likely to come from our vote than love.
This is especially difficult for the Christian to bear. To believe that we could properly love with a vote is to elect representatives to do our loving for us. It is, I think, to live in the lie of the temporal. It is to believe that the passing shadows of our elections and candidates and political parties are in fact lasting and eternal. It is to focus on the here and now to the exclusion of the promises and calling of God. It certainly doesn’t have to be this way, but this seems to be the way it usually goes.
We take our eyes off the real hope, the lasting assurance. Instead we settle for cheering on our side and falling into despair when the other side gains the upper hand. We forget the simple reminder of what Isaiah saw in the year that his king died. He lifts up his eyes through the temporal turmoil of an absent monarch and sees the true King sitting on his throne, where he always was and is and will be. A King who is hailed as thrice holy. A King who forgives and loves more than any piece of legislature or representative or vote.
So vote, my friends, but keep your eyes on the true King who continues to forgive and love you.