Why I May Not Vote (part 3) – How Can I Vote for This Government While Working for That One?

[I have been doing some political and theological soul searching over the last couple of years. I want to share some of my thoughts with you. I find that forcing myself to write out my thoughts adds clarity, and posting them online adds accountability and feedback.]

On my first trip to the American Embassy here in Maputo, I got to visit with several of the bright young men and women who work in various posts in the State Department. I was impressed. The political and economic officers here in the diplomatic corps are top notch and serving our country well.

In the course of my conversation with them on the subject of human trafficking in Mozambique, one of them agreed quite strongly with something that I said. Then she added, “You should work for the State Department.”

I quickly responded, that would be a little awkward for me since I work for a foreign government. The room fell silent. It was awkward. Finally, the most senior official in the room asked, which government do you work for? I responded, “Those of us who follow Jesus call it the Kingdom of God.”

The room quickly lightened and he responded, “I think it is possible to work for that government and this one at the same time.”

Think for just a moment. Is it?

Jesus once said: “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other.” (Matthew 6:24 NIV 2011)

The original context of this passage is about money, but it could just as easily be said about political power. If that is true, then we have told generations of citizens the wrong thing: You cannot serve both God and country.

Living here in Mozambique, I have formulated an opinion about some things that might make this country a better place. However, I am not a citizen of this country. I have no vote. I have no say. I can’t run for government. I could spend my time trying to influence the electorate if I wanted to, but I feel like that would be a waste. I work for another government called the Kingdom of God.

This is why I will likely not vote again in America. I work for the Kingdom of God. The more time I spend internalizing this reality, the less inclined I am to head to the voting booth (or fill out the paperwork for a mail-in ballot). How can I vote in an election for a country in which I am a resident alien? That is the terminology that Paul uses to describe followers of Jesus. “Our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20 NIV 2011). It doesn’t make sense to invest in one government when I work for another one.

And so that is why I will likely not vote in the upcoming election. My government is run by someone with scars in their hands and feet who is not up for reelection.

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About daveterpstra

Beggar, Abolitionist, Man of God
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