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.
Missio Alliance Comment Policy
The Missio Alliance Writing Collectives exist as a ministry of writing to resource theological practitioners for mission. From our Leading Voices to our regular Writing Team and those invited to publish with us as Community Voices, we are creating a space for thoughtful engagement of critical issues and questions facing the North American Church in God’s mission. This sort of thoughtful engagement is something that we seek to engender not only in our publishing, but in conversations that unfold as a result in the comment section of our articles.
Unfortunately, because of the relational distance introduced by online communication, “thoughtful engagement” and “comment sections” seldom go hand in hand. At the same time, censorship of comments by those who disagree with points made by authors, whose anger or limited perspective taints their words, or who simply feel the need to express their own opinion on a topic without any meaningful engagement with the article or comment in question can mask an important window into the true state of Christian discourse. As such, Missio Alliance sets forth the following suggestions for those who wish to engage in conversation around our writing:
1. Seek to understand the author’s intent.
If you disagree with something the an author said, consider framing your response as, “I hear you as saying _________. Am I understanding you correctly? If so, here’s why I disagree. _____________.
2. Seek to make your own voice heard.
We deeply desire and value the voice and perspective of our readers. However you may react to an article we publish or a fellow commenter, we encourage you to set forth that reaction is the most constructive way possible. Use your voice and perspective to move conversation forward rather than shut it down.
3. Share your story.
One of our favorite tenants is that “an enemy is someone whose story we haven’t heard.” Very often disagreements and rants are the result of people talking past rather than to one another. Everyone’s perspective is intimately bound up with their own stories – their contexts and experiences. We encourage you to couch your comments in whatever aspect of your own story might help others understand where you are coming from.
In view of those suggestions for shaping conversation on our site and in an effort to curate a hospitable space of open conversation, Missio Alliance may delete comments and/or ban users who show no regard for constructive engagement, especially those whose comments are easily construed as trolling, threatening, or abusive.