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Editor's note: Ahead of the presidential November election, Bread Blog is exploring faith and elections through the lens of different faith perspectives. The blog posts will be written by members of Bread's church relations staff and friends of Bread for the World.
By Curtis Ramsey-Lucas
Do not put your trust in princes,
In mortals, in whom there is no help.
When their breath departs they return to the earth;
On that very day their plans perish (Psalm 146:3-4)
To live a life of praise is to offer one’s whole self to God in worship and work. The antithesis of this life is to put one’s trust in human rulers, in those in whom there is no help and whose plans perish with them. The Psalmist is not suggesting we place no trust in those responsible for civil affairs. Without trust, society would descend into chaos. However, we are not to put our ultimate or unconditional trust or faith, in those who are only human, make mistakes, lose their way, and whose plans perish with them. Such faith we are to place in God alone.
Psalm 146 describes how God acts on behalf of those most in need, executing justice for the oppressed, giving food to the hungry. Prisoners are set free and the blind receive sight. Those who are bowed down or oppressed are lifted up and the righteous are loved. The Lord watches over the uprooted and supports the orphan and the widow. The Lord brings ruin to the way of the wicked.
Psalm 146 links God’s concern for justice with the very origin of creation and tells us that justice is now and forever will be the heart of God’s concern. God’s compassion bends toward those we tend to forget. But God remembers and knows their plight, just as God heard the cries of the Israelites in Egypt, “and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel, and God knew their condition” (Exodus 2:24-25).
If the concerns which the Psalmist lists are God’s concerns, they should be our concerns also as believers who trust in God. As we trust in God, we are challenged to keep God’s concerns before us in all that we say and do and how we exercise our rights and responsibilities as citizens including how we vote.
As we are called to integrate our faith and politics, we maintain a degree of skepticism regarding the claims and promises of politicians when they are candidates as well as once they are elected. We vote with a consciousness and perspective that encompasses more than our own self-interest. We allow our self-interest to be challenged, shaped and broadened by God’s interest and concern.
There are beneficial and profitable solutions to hunger and poverty in our world. Most of those solutions revolve around an ethic of abundance rather than scarcity and an ethic that values the dignity and well-being of others. Yes, we are called to continue to provide and support food pantries with healthy food options but also consider whether or not the candidates you are supporting include addressing hunger and poverty among the policies they promote.
Curtis Ramsey-Lucas is managing director, resource development at American Baptist Home Mission Societies, and director of interfaith engagement at American Association of People with Disabilities. This blog post was adapted from Does the Bible Tell Me How to Vote? Reprinted with permission of American Baptist Home Mission Societies.
We allow our self-interest to be challenged, shaped and broadened by God’s interest and concern.
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