I will feel some relief when the election is over, because I do take seriously listening to the candidates and weighing what they are saying, trying to hear them through the filter of the media, and evaluating not just what they will do for my pocketbook, but where they will take the country morally and ethically. It's my civic duty.
But, despite that duty, I know that there is a level at which too much weight can be given to elections. This isn't the first election where I have heard people on both sides say that this is "the most important election in our history", as if they knew exactly how world events will transpire during the next administration, events that may totally overwhelm the plans currently being laid out by the candidates. I also know, as a Christian, that God is ultimately in control, and that there is a hidden parallel Kingdom that makes this visible one pale by comparison, and that that Kingdom is the one that really matters.
Recently, John Piper addressed this perspective in his wonderful post "Let Christians Vote As Though They Were Not Voting" that, in his inimitable way, expressed this "two-worlds" perspective in a way I had never been able to articulate well. I recommend the whole article, but he says, in part:
"Christians should deal with the world. This world is here to be used. Dealt with. There is no avoiding it. Not to deal with it is to deal with it that way. Not to weed your garden is to cultivate a weedy garden. Not to wear a coat in Minnesota is to freeze—to deal with the cold that way. Not to stop when the light is red is to spend your money on fines or hospital bills and deal with the world that way. We must deal with the world.
"But as we deal with it, we don’t give it our fullest attention. We don’t ascribe to the world the greatest status. There are unseen things that are vastly more precious than the world. We use the world without offering it our whole soul. We may work with all our might when dealing with the world, but the full passions of our heart will be attached to something higher—Godward purposes. We use the world, but not as an end in itself. It is a means. We deal with the world in order to make much of Christ.
"So it is with voting. We deal with the system. We deal with the news. We deal with the candidates. We deal with the issues. But we deal with it all as if not dealing with it. It does not have our fullest attention. It is not the great thing in our lives. Christ is. And Christ will be ruling over his people with perfect supremacy no matter who is elected and no matter what government stands or falls. So we vote as though not voting.
"By all means vote. But remember: “The world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:17). "