Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Election exhaustion

It's a little strange how many people are tired of the election season this year.  In the debate last night, and several times in the past, President Obama has commented on how tired we all are of political commercials.  People on Facebook are now posting about how relieved they will be when the elections are over.   Yet we don't seem to be able to stop paying attention.  Maybe we suffer from an overdeveloped sense of duty when it comes to politics?  Or maybe we just can't figure out how to make up our minds and we're hoping something will eventually come clear.

The Jesus-follower lives in this odd in-between even more than most people in this country.  We recognize that we are called to submit to the governing authorities, to pray for our leaders, to exercise our citizenship here, to work for the good of our society.  But we also know that we don't belong to this world, that we have a heavenly citizenship that outranks our earthly citizenship, that our final loyalty is to Jesus as Lord, not to any earthly government.  When Jesus was before Pilate he said, "If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would fight."  The final conflict of our lives is not the conflict between Republicrats or Demicans, or even (dare I say) between Communism and Democracy or between Al-Qaeda and America.  We will not answer to God for which party we supported. (Though there may be, and often are, significant moral questions that cause the Jesus-follower to side temporarily with one party or another!)  This world and its powers are passing away, and we participate for the good of our society because God calls us into the world, not away from it.

So for the Jesus-follower, this election season is a lot of sound and fury in earthly terms.  We do well to make sure in this season that we are faithful in the spiritual disciplines, especially of worship, of scripture, and of silence.  Those three especially bring us back to a realization that beyond the clash and clamor of political campaigns, Jesus is Lord.  No matter what measures pass or fail, no matter who is elected or defeated in November, Jesus is Lord.  We are heirs of a kingdom that stands, though all of Western Civilization may be tottering in ruin.  It is in the strength of that knowledge that we work for the good of this world.

These lyrics may be slightly different than you learned the hymn, if you know it, but the older version contains truths that have been watered down in revision:

This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world: the battle is not done:
Jesus Who died shall be satisfied,
And earth and Heav’n be one.

This is my Father’s world, should my heart be ever sad?
The lord is King—let the heavens ring. God reigns—let the earth be glad.
This is my Father’s world. Now closer to Heaven bound,
For dear to God is the earth Christ trod.
No place but is holy ground.

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