We're so glad that you decided to join this challenge with us about learning to read scripture and think about voting together!
Day 1 of this challenge a scripture that we need to process and think about together is actually coming from John. It's a passage where Jesus, to some degree, speaks to the political world.
In John 14:25-27 Jesus is speaking to his disciples and apostles and He says:
All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
A lot of times in an election cycle, I hear Christians engaging in fear-mongering. What I mean by that is saying things like, "Could you imagine what will happen if that person becomes president?" "Could you imagine if that person gets elected to Congress?" "Our world's going to fall apart! We're going to lose jobs! We're going to lose money! We're going to lose everything!"
There's so much fear-mongering that happens. And oftentimes Christians vote out of fear, not out of peace. In John 14 Jesus is actually saying something that His first century audience would have connected with and understood immediately. The people were under oppression by the Roman Empire. Since we don't live under oppression of a Roman Empire, we sometimes miss what Jesus is saying when he said "I do not give to you as the world gives."
Jesus is speaking of what's called the Pax Romana. Or translated, it just means the "peace of Rome". At the time Jesus is saying this the world as it was known was under Rome. So the "peace of this world" was the "peace of Rome", the Pax Romana. That peace came in two ways: military and money. In military strength and in economic wealth. Jesus is telling the people that's not the peace that comes through having the Spirit, that's not the peace of Jesus, that's not the thing that He's trying to give. He is not trying to engage with the peace the way that we think about it.
As Christians, the very first thing we have to recognize is that we need to be voting out of peace, not out of fear. If we go to the polls and we're voting because we're afraid something's going to happen, that means that we can vote for someone who may not look like Jesus, or someone who is far away from Christian morals and ideals. If we're voting out of fear, we're not voting in line with the way that scripture would lead us to vote, because we should have the peace of Christ. We have to approach voting from a place of peace, not from a place of fear or worry.
When we try to have the peace of this world rather than the peace of Christ, the only thing we do is hurt our Christian witness. So, in the reading, I encourage you to think about this today: How do we need to rely first on the peace of the Holy Spirit given to us by Jesus? How do we start there before we ever start thinking about who should we vote for in a few days time?