This week a dear church friend implored me to get behind a candidate. In these anxious and ugly days, I am tempted to endorse a candidate, but as your shepherd I do not see this as my role. Growing up Baptist, we learned how the state persecuted early Baptists. We welcomed a separation of church and state, so that a state might not imprison a modern John Bunyan, who wrote The Pilgrims Progress, for unauthorized preaching. Indeed, religious leaders pressured the government to crucify Jesus. Jesus resisted the crowd’s desire to make him a King by force. The Old Testament prophets rail against earthly kings.
If Jesus is our Lord, then faith will guide our voting. Jesus offers two foundational rules to guide our living and our voting: love God and love your neighbor as yourself. Last week, our Jewish friends celebrate Rosh Hashanah, remembering God’s moral vision with a trumpet-like blast “practice righteousness, stop fighting, loose the bonds of injustice, share your bread with the hungry, clothe the naked… and then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly” (Isaiah 58). Politicians rarely transform anyone, but reflect back who we already are. God changes lives. Isaiah promises that loving neighbors brings a healing dawn. The Eternal King judges every nation, party, politician, and person.
I lament our toxic politics, but know our salvation does not reside in parties seeking or wielding earthly power. Christians know that goodness, decency, justice and love provide the light, salt, and balm that heal a nation. It is not those who seek crowns, but those who shoulder the cross, who bring righteousness. As a Christian, my guiding allegiance belongs to no king, kingdom, politician or party. Jesus is Lord. My King resides within loving hearts and just acts. My King waits in heaven and “will come again to judge the living and the dead.” My God reformed my ancestors’ faith amid crushing Babylonian captivity. On Easter, my King overcame terrible evil, oppression, and injustice. Let us cast our anxieties on Christ, live righteously, and align our allegiance, hope, and passion with Christ our King.