Yesterday was November 6, 2018. Yesterday, in the United States, was also the 2018 Midterm Elections. For awhile I have held to the idea that my vote doesn't matter all that much, so why bother voting at all. I have always thought the system is rigged. I have always hated the two party system, not fitting in to either, never having a candidate I can fully support. But this year a friend of mine convinced me to at least register. As I get older I am beginning to lose some of the cynicism of my youth. Some. I am starting to learn that I do have a voice, hence the existence of this blog, and that God does want me to be heard. I am beginning to realize that regardless of if (or to what degree) the system is broken, voting is still an exercise of my voice.
What did I get myself into?
But oh boy is voting a bigger task than I had anticipated. Well, intelligently voting that is. I had no idea there were so many issues on which I needed to figure out my stance. Crawling out from under my rock into the world of politics was terrifying!
Once I came out from under that dark rock and my eyes adjusted to political daylight, which, let's be honest, is probably darker than under that rock (but oh well), I could see that I wasn't going to be able to do this on my own. I stopped and realized voting to speak my voice should be, by extension, speaking God's voice and truth. That brought me to the question in the title, "What would Jesus vote?"
Thinking about it might bring a little smirk to your face as it does mine. Jesus, lining up at the polls casting His ballot. It touches a bit on the absurd. While there are many modern day things that would seem absurd to think of Jesus doing, such as driving a car, standing in line at a TSA check, or being the quarterback for the Knicks (No, I don't sports; you are correct), I think that sometimes it sounds absurd simply because it is absurd. I'm not sure Jesus would vote at all. And even if He did, I do not think He would vote for a dominating party.
IF Jesus voted.
IF Jesus voted, I think He would vote "third" party. I honestly have no idea where Jesus would stand on all of the issues facing us today, and my goal isn't to figure that out, yet. So, "third" party here simply means not one of the two dominant parties. This can be seen biblically by looking at how He interacted with the political "parties" of His time, the Pharisees and the Romans. (I am over simplifying the political structure at the time of Jesus, but that is more than I have time or knowledge to tackle at the moment. If you want to learn more this article looks like it has some great info.) When it came to these two groups, who were not the best of friends, Jesus was against both. He showed His lack of support for these groups in different ways. However, love and truth were at the core of each way.
Jesus was and is counter cultural. And He doesn't just counter the culture that you don't like. He counters every culture. Jesus created a new culture. Jesus Culture. (I couldn't help myself). The culture Jesus created is that of radical love and self sacrifice. Nothing like it existed before Him and nothing like it has come since. If Jesus was going to vote for a candidate, they would be an imitator of Him, acting fully in radical love and self sacrifice.
In a race between two polarizing parties, with an "us versus them" mentality, I'm not sure a candidate like that can exist. A candidate who fully embodies Jesus would be outside and separate from the traditional system. They would have to be a "third" party.
But would He actually vote?
Now, that all is IF Jesus would vote, a thing that I am not so sure He would take the time to do. Not for any of the reasons I have had for not voting, but simply because He would have better, more important things to do. To be blunt about it, Jesus could cause more change in society and individual lives during the time it would take Him to wait in line and vote than any elected politician could do during their term in office. The political system is slllllllow. Radical love, on the other hand, can change hearts and minds in an instant!
To support this idea that Jesus would probably not concern Himself with participating in politics, through voting, we can look at a few of the things He told His disciples concerning governing politics, society, and the world. In John 15:19 He tells them,
If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. (ESV)
He says a similar thing a few chapters later while praying in John 17:14-19,
I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. (ESV)
Here is where we see the foundation of the phrase "in the world, but not of it." We see that Jesus wants His disciples (that means us too) to live in the world, but not to be shaped by it. We are to ultimately follow Christ, not the world, while we remain living in the world.
So let's all be hermits shaking our fists at the world on our lawn?
However, this does not mean to completely disregard the world and live completely cut off from it. We are still meant to be in it and live humbly under the worldly systems. Jesus makes this clear in Mark 12:14-17,
And they came and said to him, "Teacher, we know that you are true and do not care about anyone's opinion. For you are not swayed by appearances, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?" But, knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, "Why put me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me look at it." And they brought one. And he said to them, "Whose likeness and inscription is this?" They said to him, "Caesar's." Jesus said to them, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." And they marveled at him. (ESV)
Jesus is telling the Pharisees and others listening that authority should be honored and respected no matter what. Regardless if that authority is God or an earthly power. Spoiler: it's all Godly authority anyways. (Romans 13:1-7)
There is a crucial point that cannot be missed. While I believe that Jesus would not vote in our political system, that is only because voting is a choice and not mandatory. If our system made voting mandatory Jesus absolutely would respect that system and participate.
Alright, let's be real here.
The strongest, and somewhat tongue in cheek, reason that I believe Jesus would not vote is because frankly, who is He going to vote for when He's already the King of Kings? He's already on the throne. His Kingdom is of Heaven, not earth. He didn't need to rule earth then and He doesn't need a politician to have things go His way now. John 18:33-37,
So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, "Are you the King of the Jews?" Jesus answered, "Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?" Pilate answered, "Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?" Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world." Then Pilate said to him, "So you are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice." (ESV)
The Kingdom of Heaven is better and of greater concern than any political system this world will come up with. We are to "fight", with love, for the Kingdom of Heaven. Not fight for any any kingdom of this world or for any political ideology. Jesus said that the world would hate us because we are not of this world. So why then are people surprised by and fight against political systems that hate Christians? Jesus said it would happen. Why stop what Jesus says is inevitable? Instead we should live in radical love for Jesus first, then one another.
"This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. (ESV)
So what's the point of all this?
Love, not politics, is how we see society change on the scale that Jesus was able to change it. And no, I'm not saying don't vote. And I'm not saying you wasted your time either. There is value in sharing your voice and there is value in using that political voice to help the voiceless and make a difference greater than yourself. All I'm saying is to remember that at the end of the day our hope should be placed in Jesus, not a worldly system, and the power that lives inside of us is greater than any worldly system.
I don't think that Jesus would have voted. That is why, yesterday, I wrote this article instead of going to the polls. I chose to use my voice in a different way, to hopefully share the truth of the Kingdom of Heaven. That His Kingdom is what I'm fighting for. That we are not of this world, and that radical love and self sacrifice are how we change the world.