Coming down the election homestretch!! Yeah! The season of political ads and signs and debates and agreements and disagreements and public accusations and hostilities will be done. Hallelujah! The election will be completed and then maybe we will be able to return to civility or some semblance of it. Elections.
Elections are our way of selecting the next round of leaders who will serve the region of the nation that elected them. Serve…a key word. Through the election each elected person is given a tremendous amount of power…power to serve…serve those whom they represent but also the nation as a whole. Elected to serve.
In our day the idea of national best interests is a difficult emphasis to remember. We live in a “ME” first era. Narcissism is on the rise. I want what I want and I want it now. “If you want to be re-elected we better see you advancing legislation that is in my best interests. Forget everyone else. You were elected to serve…me.”
Sometimes that “ME” gets shifted during an official’s years in office. There is immense pressure on those called to serve. Lobbyists offer perks under the table if a vote will be made in a certain way. The temptation to allow those who desire to corrupt the power of elected officials can be incredibly persuasive. “Power tends to corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely” Lord Acton. Serving shifts from a focus on the electorate to those influencers of the electorate.
As a result of the potential of an elected official losing focus on who they serve, there is built into our system accountability. In each campaign promises are made. When votes are cast they are cast not just for the character of the individual but the promises made by that person in regards to the future sought for our communities and for the nation. Through phone calls, letters and emails, to townhall meetings and ultimately in the next election cycle, those elected will be held accountable and so it should be.
Election is not only a word of the body politic, it is also a biblical word. In the pages of scripture God called Abram to leave Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the land that he was going to show them. Genesis 12:1. Even though the word “election” isn’t used, it is obvious that God chose or elected him to fulfill a special purpose within God’s plan. And what was God’s purpose in choosing Abram?
2 “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. Genesis 12:2 (NIV)
Elected, blessed, to be a blessing.
Out of the lineage of Abram the Children of Israel grew and the Children of Israel were elected as well. Exodus 19:4-6 says this about their special role:
4 ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, 6 you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”
God loves and claims the whole world (5). But, in the midst of the whole world that God loves he elected the Children of Israel to be a “kingdom of priests” (6). A priest served the dual role of bringing God to the people and the people to God. An important role of service.
In the New Testament we see a powerful statement of Jesus to his disciples. Jesus said:
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit–fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. John 15:16 (NIV)
The disciples were elected (chosen) by Jesus to bear fruit for eternity.
In the first of St. Peter’s two letters, he begins by saying these words to those early Christians:
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, 2 who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance. 1 Peter 1:1-2 (NIV)
Chosen for obedience to Jesus Christ.
Tragically, like some within our political world, there are Christians who feel wonderfully special because they know they are elected. This election is not by their peers as is the case of our national elections. No, these folks know they have been elected by God. I believe in this calling, this election.
However, in the midst of being elected by God, they have forgotten the One they are to serve. So subtly the elect can start serving people, not the God who called them. So subtly the elect can start serving their own best interests, their own pocket books, their own selfish gain.
Sometimes, like those in the political world, those who have been called by God forget that they will be held accountable by God for how they have used their calling. Someone once commented that there will be two judgment days. The one most people think about is the “Heaven or Hell” judgment day (Matthew 25:31-46). But the other is the judgment day for our services rendered (1 Corinthians 3:10-15).
This year, in the midst of our political election season, may we remember that those who are called are called to serve. May all who are elected remember that they are called to serve. For the politicians they are called to serve their electorate. For we who are called by Christ we are called to serve The One who loves us and has called us. And this year let us remember these wonderful words of Christian service:
17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17