Tuesday, November 4, 2008

My Vote Counted!

For those of you who aren't aware, you don't have to vote for every item on your ballot. Tammy and I weren't sure about this, so I asked a pollworker this morning. I was told that I could vote on one item and leave the rest blank, or vote on everything but one item; but, if I did, the machine would probably beep at me relentlessly to confirm that I intended to leave an item blank and were not just an idiot who couldn't correctly fill in a bubble with a ball point pen.

didn't hear any beeping today! Therefore, I have concluded that either (1) most people are much more politically aware than myself, or (2) that most people vote for judges (there were 8 of them on my ballot today) totally unaware of those judges' record, moral character, or education, or (3) the pollworker misinformed me about the beeping. I'm blindly trusting that the first proposition (1) is true, in hopes that our society is much more educated than I'd assumed; but I'm skeptical. And if you voted where I did today, you'd know why!

My machine didn't beep--call it peer pressure! But my vote counted! I don't know whether to be excited that we live in a country where people can vote regardless of their level of education, ownership of property, amount of income, etc., or to be disappointed that we (myself included) take that right for granted by voting ignorantly--if at all.

I always qualify my patriotism with the following caveat: I'm a Christian first, and an American second; a citizen of the Kingdom of Christ/Heaven/God first, and a citizen of America second. I'm committed to the American project and to the ideals of freedom, liberty, and justice, but if my allegiance to one conflicts with the other, the one with eternal implications and foundational motivations always wins out (or it should). Not to mention (although, I'll mention it),
that Jesus is way cooler and more respectable than any of our founding fathers. How sad it would be if we approached our heavenly citizenship like we do our American citizenship--with an aimless, uninformed, and thoughtless facade of responsibility and contribution; and that only every four years or so. Then again, for others, considering how passionate some people are about politics, how great would that be (to approach their faith like their politics)?

Fortunately, as Christians, we're not asked to vote on what it means to be a disciple of Jesus and a member of his kingdom.
We're not asked to elect a representative who stands in for us, deciding how the kingdom should be run, or an executive who vetos those decisions or carries out their directives, or judges who interpret them. We're only asked to pick up our cross daily and, come what may, follow the prophet, priest, and king (judge, representative, and executive), who has been appointed for life and leads by example--Jesus. I know such a statement sounds like blind allegiance, but it has more to do with pragmatism--we'd mess the whole thing up pretty quickly. Christian discipleship from a human (religious) perspective is pretty messy as it is. There are almost as many ideas in print about what it means to be a "true" disciple of Jesus as there are Christians who think they have something original to say about it--and there are a lot of us. The truth is, we might have our own ideas about what it means to pick up our cross and follow Jesus, but there's only one Jesus, and we don't get to vote on who he is.

So, I guess, as an American, my vote counted today; whether it should have or not is another question. But, as a Christian, my vote is irrelevant. What matters, as far as my Christian allegiance is concerned, is my willingness--or lack there of--to freely choose whether I will be a part of Christ's kingdom. It's not a vote, it's a choice--made, not on a first Tuesday in November, but, daily!

A Choice! Do you, my dear listener, know how to express, in a single word anything more magnificent?
--Soren Kierkegaard, Upbuilding Discourse

If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
Matthew 16:24, NIV


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