Editor’s Note: as we all await an answer to the question of who will become our next president, we have asked a number of key voices to offer brief day-after reflections and reactions, which we will release throughout the day. The entry that follows comes from Derek Vreeland, discipleship pastor at Word of Life Church in St. Joseph, MO and a member of the Missio Alliance Writing Team.
Election day has come and gone and we still don’t know who is going to be the next president. Perhaps like me, you are ready to say goodbye to the political advertising which dominates our collective imagination from video ads on YouTube to the neighbor’s yard littered with signs. Election day in America has become the ugly Super Bowl of our angry, divided, antagonistic, team-sport approach to electing political candidates. I lament what the American political landscape has become. Aristotle warned us in the fourth century that democracy can give way to the rise of demagogues who appeal to the desires of large groups of people while rejecting reason, virtue, and concern for the common good.
As followers of Jesus, we vote according to our Spirit-enlivened consciences. That is, unless a particular Christian’s conscience doesn’t allow him or her to vote. Stanley Hauerwas reminds us that voting is a coercive act, after all. If we choose to vote, we do so without putting much hope into it. “Love cannot be rightly ordered unless the proper goal of our hope is established,” writes Thomas Aquinas in his Shorter Summa. Our hope is not in the governments of humankind, but in the kingdom of God. If our hope rests in the hands of the politicos, then our love for God and neighbor will become decentered in our life of faith and political engagement.
If our hope rests in the hands of the politicos, then our love for God and neighbor will become decentered in our life of faith and political engagement. Click To Tweet
So we render unto Caesar what is Caesar and we render unto God what is God’s as Jesus taught us. Caesar may get our vote, but God gets our heart. Caesar gets our vote in this particular election, but God gets our affection. Caesar may win an election, but we choose not to be swept into the rejoicing or despair of this political election season. We rejoice in God and allow our faith in Jesus to define who we are and who the Spirit is shaping us to be as the people of God.