I have never made a political endorsement, not in the conventional sense. This is because Christendom has committed a great many sins in its insatiable thirst for power over the centuries. In fact, the quest for power is the church’s most heinous sin. So officially aligning a congregation with any political party – left, right, or populist – only perpetuates this transgression. However, as this unprecedented election season comes to a merciful close, I am making my first endorsement: I can’t vote for “him,” and I won’t vote for “her.” Neither will I vote for any of the half-dozen candidates on the presidential ballot.
My faith, shaped as it is by Quakerism, the Anabaptists, and what historians call the “Radical Reformation,” leads me to live life based on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. This “manifesto,” found in Matthew 5-7, describes how Jesus’ followers are to live as citizens in what he called, “The Kingdom of God.” Per the Sermon, those in this Kingdom value humility, meekness, mercy, justice-seeking, and peace-making. Jesus’ followers are to be wary of lust, dishonesty, and anger. He instructs us to love our enemies, to do good to those who don’t deserve it, to resist violence and its escalation, and “to turn the other cheek.”
He warns us of unbridled greed and how chasing after more wealth only leads to greater anxiety. Then he sums it all up with what could be called an Oath of Citizenship: “Treat everybody the way you would want to be treated, love God, and love your neighbor as yourself.”
It’s not inaccurate to conclude that our political candidates and national leaders have intentionally modeled and organized themselves in the opposite fashion of Jesus’ instructions. Our entire political-societal complex is constructed on dishonesty, arrogance, violence, indignity, rage, vengeance, and getting ahead at someone else’s expense. I can’t achieve the cognitive dissonance required to reconcile these inconsistencies.
“Believe me,” I know the objections: “You have to choose the lesser of the evils!” But what if I consider the whole nationalistic system as evil? “People died to give you the privilege to vote!” Did Jesus not die for the principles he taught and lived? “It’s irresponsible not to participate!” Can faithfulness to conscious ever be considered irresponsible? “If you don’t love it, leave it!” Do you now see why the language of exile, wandering, and being “strangers in a strange land,” was so common among Jesus’ earliest followers? “But if you aren’t involved nothing will ever change for the better!” Why can’t I be involved on the margins, as Jesus and the prophets of old were, pointing to how life could be if only we would have it?
Simply put, the American Way and the Jesus Way are not always compatible. And when they are not, I must aspire – failing as I often will – to show my primary allegiance to Christ. For I am an expatriate: A resident of the United States, but a citizen of the Kingdom of God.