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“I put no trust in princes, in mere mortals powerless to save.” The words of Psalm 146 are just what I need at this point in the race for president. The truth is, whoever wins this election, isn’t going to save us from much of anything. Of all the demons raised in this campaign season -- injustice, socialism, terrorism, war -- none of them will disappear next week or in the next four years. Does it matter who becomes our next president? Yes, and no.
Each candidate has promised certain policies, programs, and initiatives. The contrast between who they are and what they value is more stark than what we have seen in many recent elections. Most of us find ourselves naturally gravitating towards one side or the other. Whichever candidate you support, it is important to realize that presidents, like princes, are mere mortals. Neither one can save us, the nation, or even themselves. Maybe that is why my very favorite bumper sticker this year is one that reads, “I already have a Messiah, I’m looking for a president.”
We all need to be saved, but not primarily from economic crises, higher taxes, or dependence on foreign oil. First and foremost we need to be saved from ourselves, or I should say, our worst and false selves. We are created for glory, not our own, but God’s. It is in God’s image that every one of us is made, and to his likeness that each one of us is called. It is natural to look up, and reach higher for help. But how high is high enough? If we stop with government and never get to God, what kind of help will we find? And more, what kind of price will we pay for it? It is not for nothing that Jesus said, “What good is it to gain the whole world, and lose your own soul?”
For those who find this election frightening, and there are more than a few on both sides who do, it may be good to remember something. Just as “princes” cannot save us, they cannot really damage us either, at least not in ways that last. Perhaps we will suffer more materially under one candidate’s approaches than under the other’s. We may even feel that our civil or constitutional rights could be diminished or threatened. But Jesus told us to expect persecution, to rejoice in suffering, to forgive our enemies, and to be in this world, but not of it. Our ability to become holy cannot be threatened from the outside. Indeed, it may even be enhanced by opposition. But our God will not abandon us; nor will He make it impossible for us to live faithful and holy Christian lives. The stakes are never that high.
To live the Christian life is to put all our eggs in one basket--the Easter basket. Our hope is found in Christ Jesus risen from the dead, and not in any political party or candidate. Diversifying our self-investment means dividing our hearts, and withholding the total gift of all we have and all we are to God. God wants all of us. He invites us to trust him fully.
The reign of God does not involve our casting a vote to elevate Christ Jesus into office. It is casting our wills before a loving and all-powerful God who desires to elevate us, and share his kingdom with us. Ultimately, God rules the universe with or without our consent. But He chooses to rule our hearts and lives only if we allow him to do so.
Cast your vote in good conscience: that is, a conscience that is formed by faith, founded on Christ Jesus, and focused beyond self. Don’t just look at the candidates and issues. Pray before you vote. Seek the face of God and the will of God. Commend our nation into his hands, and do not fear. And one more thing: make it your goal to exercise your United States citizenship without compromising your citizenship in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Jaymie Stuart Wolfe is a wife and mother of eight children, and a disciple of the spirituality of St. Francis de Sales. She is an author, speaker, musician and serves as Faith Formation Coordinator at St. Maria Goretti Parish in Lynnfield.