the spiritual practice of voting
Voting is a spiritual practice.
The faith and spirituality Jesus opens up to us speaks of a God who is transforming this world back to the way it was always meant to be – a world of radical justice, inclusion and peace; a world where everyone has a place and everyone has enough. As humans, we are called to, as the writers of Genesis would put it, ‘be stewards’ of that world – working alongside God, doing our part to make the ‘what is’ more like the ‘what ought to be.’
I’m sure a lot of us each do this in different and wonderful ways: helping the homeless, caring for the earth, speaking up for the voiceless, offering hope and solidarity, creating beautiful art and meaningful words, and the list goes on and on to include all sorts of awesome and important stuff.
But there’s another way to participate in this work that we often overlook: voting.
For better or worse, our government plays a huge role in the shaping of the world God is working to restore. Fortunately, we live in a country that allows us to shape that very government, therefore having a choice in how they shape the world. It’s there that we find the connection to just how voting is a spiritual issue and practice:
Voting is one way we can advocate for the kind of world we believe God is raising up around us. It’s through our votes that we can speak up for and work towards the kind of policies, both foreign and domestic, which embody the values and vision of Christ and which can take us towards that world he called ‘The Kingdom.’ As people striving to be God’s stewards, we therefore need to approach voting with the same intentionality and thoughtfulness as we do our other spiritual practices. I would have to wonder if the prophets like Amos would say voting is a liturgical act.
So how do we practice this? Try this:
Whenever we're in the midst of an election, take time to view it spiritually and theologically. Take time out to read the Prophets and Gospels, asking ‘What did God ultimately care about?’ ‘What did Jesus speak about?’ ‘What societal and cultural issues is he actually talking about?’ ‘What change is he trying to spark?’
And then, with that on our minds and hearts, begin to look at the platforms of the political parties. What values are they professing? Who is speaking to those same issues? Who is caring for the same groups? What policies capture the heart of Jesus’ ministry? Ask questions. Do research. Speak to your candidates. Struggle to climb over whatever ideological hurdles in your way. Pray over it.
The hope would be that we can each find a candidate and party who, intentionally or not, resonates with our faith and who wants to make the world a bit more like the one Jesus spoke about and began to create.
Then, on voting day, practice the spiritual task of voting with your faith and heart. We won’t know the outcome of course, but we can each know we took the opportunity to speak up for what we believe this world should look like.
May the Spirit we call Holy join us on this journey of seeing how everything is spiritual and of taking up our roles in this story of God changing our world from the inside out.