I pray that all who live n the US who are eligible to vote today will do so, and I pray that all Christians will pray before they cast their ballots. As a Presbyterian, I belong to what is called the Reformed Tradition. Started by reformers like John Calvin, the Reformed tradition stresses God’s sovereignty over all things, but our responsibility to pray for God’s will to be done in the world and act on what we feel God is leading us to do as we strive to make the world more like the Kingdom of God.
How does that translate into actions such as voting?
Here’s a reflection from the Presbyterian Mission Yearbook For Prayer And Study for today that may help answer that question:
During debates over regulating cigarette smoking, a tobacco executive attending worship for the first time asked the pastor if someone from his conglomerate would be welcome. The pastor asked, “Do you think you are that much worse a sinner than these other worshipers and me?” Both smiled, distinguishing corporate policy from personal identity and affirming space for different outlooks in that church.
Today’s lectionary passages focus on judgment executed and judgment deferred, good themes for Election Day. In Luke 13, Jesus points to natural and human-caused disasters to ask if those who suffered were worse than their neighbors. Both kinds of disaster should prompt repentance – not something most elected officials do in public. It is often easier to judge others and vote against them than it is to consider the nature of a good society and one’s responsibilities in it. At our best, like that tobacco executive, we acknowledge our own interests, dreams, and resentments influence our decisions, but they are not the whole of us. Many organizations opposing shared sacrifice spend more on political contributions than taxes, but conscience puts the survival of future generations ahead of the concerns of today’s powerful.
The Reformed approach is almost always to seek to reform, not abolish the state. The purpose of the state is more than shared defense. The magistrate or government, in Calvin’s view, is “ordained of God” not only to be an “avenger unto wrath,” but “a minister of God for those doing good unto praise” (Institutes IV, 20, 4). As the report to the 174th General Assembly (1962), “Relations Between Church and State,” terms it, “The civil ruler is a co-worker with the ministry of the church for the accomplishment of the divine purpose . . . the magistracy fundamentally exists, in short, not because humans are wicked but because God is gracious.”
- Rev. Christian T. Iosso, coordinator, Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy, General Assembly Mission Council
So — what would Calvin do? What I pray every Chrisitan in America will do — pray and vote.