Why Jesus Wants You to Vote
By Robin Stephenson
Recently, I half-jokingly chided a friend, telling her that "Jesus wants you to vote."
After learning that civic responsibility will be one of the topics discussed during tomorrow’s grassroots conference call and webinar, I decided to explore this idea a bit more. Does my individual belief in God mean that I am also responsible for contributing to my government through citizenship?
I began with scripture. In Mark 10:17-31, a rich man walks away from Jesus when asked to give his wealth to the poor as the path to heaven. Religious scholar Miguel De Le Torre posits that this tale doesn't caution against prosperity, but against disengagement with the structures of poverty and oppression. Salvation is achieved through engagement with, and responsibility to, the poor—just believing in God is not enough.
Living Christianity is a process of turning belief into action and building toward God’s vision of the world. The Old Testament laws structure a just society where all of God’s children are cared for and live in right relationship. In Isaiah 25:6-8, God’s banquet is for all people. In the New Testament, Jesus invites us into a kingdom-building partnership as we call forth God’s will, “…on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10).
Does my biblical responsibility to kingdom-building mean I should vote?
Is voting a right or a responsibility? Does the Bible make that clear? Returning to the story of the rich man, I am struck by a particularly American context. De La Torre points out the missing link for the young man was turning belief into action and understanding his tacit responsibility in structures of oppression. If God calls us to speak up for the rights of the poor and needy, as in Proverbs 31:8, and those rights are decided through government, then voting is a part of speaking up.
Robin Stephenson is social media lead/senior regional organizer, western hub.
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