dord (dôrd), n. density of mind; chiefly exhibited by one who attempts to demonstrate supposed knowledge --adj. dord'ish

11.07.2006

Thoughts of a Voter

I voted. Those are the words on the sticker that I received after handing in my ballot. They are two words that make a very simple statement--simple, yet not simplistic.

As Christians, we know that we have a responsibility to vote, and to do so wisely. I take this seriously; so do many Christians that I know. We try to be informed about the candidates and the issues before we head off to the polls, seeking to identify the people and measures which would most closely uphold Biblical principles. Things become complicated, though. We all know that. There are no perfect candidates, and the ramifications of many ballot issues can be confusing.

One lone person going out to the polls can appear inconsequential. I feel patriotic when I vote. I know I should vote. I am thankful to be able to vote. But I still wonder if my vote will make a difference. When the results come in, and thousands of votes separate many of the races and issues which I voted on, will the presence of my vote have made a difference? Yes and no. The fact is, my vote can make a difference along with many others. So yes, it will make a difference. But think about this: when I (or we, I know I'm not the only one) have these thoughts, what I really wonder is whether my vote will make the difference. Will my vote put a certain candidate on top? The problem with this is a two-fold display of arrogance. First, I assume that if the tally shows a difference of one vote, my vote is of greater importance than that of the thousands or millions of others who voted with me. Second, I assume that what I do only matters if I can see how it makes a difference, the difference.

Think about those words again: will my vote make the difference? The fact is, the greatest problem with this attitude is that it carries over into the rest of our lives. I vote every day. You vote every day. And not just once a day. With every action we do, with every decision we make, with every thought that we think, we are proclaiming our support--and our allegiance--either for God and His ways, or for selfishness and the ways of the devil. (It's funny; though I wasn't intending to write a follow-up post, the quote that I posted over the weekend fits in with this.)

In an election, our votes determine the winner. God, however, does not need to have the majority of the people supporting and serving Him to defeat the devil. His victory does not depend on our obedience, because it has already been accomplished. In this way, we know that our actions will not make the difference. Here again we see the danger of that attitude and question. As Christians who have been taught of the sovereignty of God, we know that He will ultimately conquer. Like the citizen who decides against voting because He believes His vote will not make the difference, we as Christians sometimes doubt the importance of obedience.

Here's an example. Let's say something isn't going as I had planned. If I listen to my flesh, this inconvenience will affect my attitude. It will affect my actions. It will even affect how much I care about its effects. Though the following thoughts won't necessarily go through my mind, they are represented in my attitude. So what is the difference? Does it even make a difference? If this is a sinful attitude God will convict me and I'll repent and move on. It cannot make the difference for anything. The arrogant assumption here (much like we saw earlier regarding political voting) is that if our actions do not make the difference, then they do not make a difference, and if they do not make a difference, then they do not matter.

But our actions do matter. We know from Scripture that our obedience is important (Leviticus 18:4, John 3:36, Acts 5:29, and many others). Yet because we know that God is sovereign and that we are saved through Christ's atoning work on the cross, we know that there is no question of us making the difference. Unlike voting, our choices are not a matter of enough people combining to make the difference in the outcome. Though the voter analogy breaks down (as do all), we see in both cases the importance of realizing that nothing is about us. My wanting to make the difference is about me. It is about my desire to see the impact of my choices so that I may feel good about what I have done, whether in voting or in obeying. But we don't have to assume that what we do either makes the difference or that it doesn't matter. We can desire to make a difference for God's glory, to "[participate] with God in transforming the world to reflect His righteousness" (see the quote in the post below), when we focus on Him instead of on ourselves.

Finally, my actions matter because they have impact that I do not see. Like the voter who only believes his vote is worthwhile if he can see the difference it makes, we can fall into the trap of thinking that our actions do not matter because we do not see their impact. But obeying my flesh not only affects my attitude and my actions, it also affects the way I reflect Christ, and this matters greatly.

I voted. I don't know how my vote will make a difference, but that's all right. What matters is faithfulness to be obedient to vote wisely; I'll now leave the impact of my vote up to God.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Sterling said...

Jason, thoughtful commentary!

"The fact is, my vote can make a difference along with many others". This observation helped poke through that haunting "I still wonder if my vote will make a difference" that has plagued me as well; and through the puncture I think I caught a glimpse of the starry host without.

Your spiritual analogy was also instructive. I have been mulling over both of these political and spiritual ideas, and so it is good to hear from another on these exact topics.

A portion of 1 Cor. 9:10 sprang to mind; this has been my attitude (minus my pride, and other taintings of sin) in this election season,
"...the plowman should plow in hope and the thresher thresh in hope of sharing in the crop."
If you read the whole of this passage, the Apostle is speaking of spiritual work and the appropriateness of providing for pastors and teachers in the church, which ties in with the spiritual analogy you drew from this election, I think.

11/07/2006 10:41 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's cool how your quote of the month fit into this so well! This was a good exposition on the whole voting topic. There was an article in my student newspaper that bugged me recently...something about student votes not mattering. Heh...

I consider voting to be as important as paying taxes. It is a smack in the Constitution's face to not vote.

vasud
~A fine layer of oily bubbles covering a metal surface

11/08/2006 10:08 PM

 

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