Tuesday, May 3, 2022

A Corrupt Institution

The other reason why we say that as Christians, God wouldn't want us to vote is because the political system is so corrupt. This is true almost everywhere around the world in what we call "developed" countries (which seems weird, right?). The playing field isn't level, and a vote of conscience doesn't seem to matter much. 

Except, of course, if a whole lot of consciences are voting. 

But I digress. See, we say that Christians participating in politics is a lot like Jesus dealing with the Pharisees. We say that He didn't do it. He didn't want to play their games. He didn't want to be part of their corrupt system. He didn't want to create any scenario by which He could be seen as condoning what they are doing, so Jesus simply steered clear of the Temple and the Pharisees and spent His time on the streets and at the houses of sinners. 

In fact, we say, every time we see Jesus coming into contact with a Pharisee, He's calling them out for their blindness and hypocrisy. 

So we develop this same sort of relationship with politics, and we call it "Christian." We stand off at a distance, and every time politics crosses our path, we call it corrupt and hypocritical. We point out that politics is not just part of the problem; it is the problem. And we decry its injustices and how it perpetuates the systems of inequality in our culture. And on and on and on we go. 

Except that when we confess that we keep seeing Jesus calling out the Pharisees, what we're really saying is that Jesus kept putting Himself in contact with the Pharisees.

Listen, it wasn't the Pharisees who were lining the streets to see Jesus. It wasn't the Pharisees who were climbing trees to get a better look. It wasn't the Pharisees who were crying out for mercy. It wasn't the Pharisees who were climbing into boats to follow Jesus out of the very territory they were trying to get Him to leave in the first place. 

When Jesus comes into contact with the Pharisees, it's because He entered their space. He kept going to the Temple. He kept sitting on the porch. He kept involved Himself with matters of "organized" religion, and there's one very good reason for this: 

That's where the people were. 

That's where the broken, burdened hearts were that Jesus was trying to reach. That's where the faithful who ought to be able to recognize the Messiah were hanging out. The persons in the culture who were wanting to know if Jesus was the guy were, by and large, asking the Pharisees about it. The persons needing healing were hanging out where the prayers were going up. The persons searching for mercy were heading toward the Mercy Seat of God, which rested between two cherubim in the Holy of Holies. 

Jesus knew that if you want to reach the people, you have to go where the people are - and the people were in the courtyards of the Pharisees. 

The same is true in our culture. The people are in the courtyard of the politicians. They are lobbying for legislation on one side of an issue or another. They are looking for justice. They are looking for peace. They are looking for hope. They are looking for a promise that they think that politics is going to give them, which means they are hanging out in the courtyards of the politicians. And if we expect to have a voice in the courtyard, then we have to involve ourselves to some degree in politics. 

If you don't vote, you don't have access to the courtyard. Period. You don't have a right to criticize a system that offers you the opportunity to speak into it and you're not taking that opportunity. You don't have a right to have a voice, not use it, and then claim that no one's listening to you. You vote because that gives you a right to enter the courtyard and from there, you can talk to the people. From there, you can meet them where they are.

From the very place where they are crying out for hope, now you can bring your hope because you've established your place here. 

So yes, you vote. Even in a corrupt system. Because your vote is your ticket to raise your voice and speak for true hope. 

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