Who could have foreseen what a bizarre, nasty, and divided election season this would be? Not only are we bombarded with constant trash about the candidates, here in Florida there are also persistent lies about the amendments to the Florida State Constitution especially Amendment One relating to solar energy. And even if you try to avoid it all by ignoring the paper, the radio, and the newsfeed on the internet, they are dishing it up to you on your phone with incessant robo calls.
As Christians, much as this election season may disgust us, we know that it is an opportunity to vote our values and to express our faith in a way that matters and can make a difference. And so we suppress the urge to stay home and not even bother voting.
Let’s take a moment to examine how Jesus might vote if he were an American citizen today. Jesus was devoted to a God of love for all of Creation. He showed people a God of love and care for all with no prejudice based on religion, ethnicity, or sexual identity. With that God at his center, Jesus took action on a day to day basis. He showed us how to embody the universal love of God for all by acting with compassion and mercy for individual people. This exposed the injustices of the society of his day. Jesus disrupted the social, political, religious, and economic arrangements of his time because all of those systems were set up to protect some at the expense of others. It’s no wonder he was killed.
In thinking about how to make our voting decisions, we can think about Jesus taking into consideration the big picture: All of Creation is beloved by God. So, how will our vote affect all of Creation? How will our vote impact the besieged people of Aleppo? How will our vote make a difference to the melting polar ice caps and glaciers? How will our vote influence the child who is sent on to Middle School but still cannot read? What will our vote do for the people of all the nations of the world who are all made in God’s image and beloved? I think this is how Jesus would think about who to vote for.
In the Tampa Bay Times, there was a letter to the editor this morning in which the writer shares how he will decide who to vote for: “Both presidential candidates are flawed human beings. But we must vote for one. So, which might benefit us and our families the best?” That is how Leonard Mead of Apollo Beach will decide who to vote for. To me, this perspective is not consistent with the universal vision of Jesus. To limit our concern to “us and our families” in voting is not in keeping with Jesus’ concern for all of Creation. This is far too limited a perspective for someone committed to the way of Jesus.
In another letter to the editor today, R. B. Johnson of Indian Rocks Beach gives this advice for selecting who to vote for: “Instead of obsequiously marching in lockstep to the siren blandishments of party solidarity, we should be considering ourselves human beings first, Americans second, and members of political parties a distant third.” This perspective is much closer to the vision of Jesus. The writer is encouraging us to broader horizons, to consider the well-being of the whole human family, not just our own family. This is much more in keeping with the way of Jesus.
All of Creation is the self disclosure of God. All of life is sacred. Every person is created in God’s image. Judaism, Jesus, and Christianity are about a grand vision of the common good. And that is what should guide our voting as followers of Jesus.