How Will You Choose – When Yours Is the Deciding Vote

The lights go down. The music comes up. The theater hushes. The title flashes. “Swing Vote.” The star is Kevin Costner. The plot is simply. The consequences are not. It turns out all of America has voted for a new president. Forget about Florida in 2000. It turns out this time it’s a dead even tie. And Kevin will cast the deciding vote. From his daughter to his countrymen, everyone wants a little piece of Kevin to decide the matter in their favor. Can you imagine! Actually, you don’t need to. You and I cast the deciding vote in matters of conscience and consequence everyday. Sometimes it’s all about us. Sometimes many are changed by our vote. Families live or die by what they eat and where they go and at what speed everyday. What we tell our doctor determines the lifestyle of many all around us. How we keep our home affects our neighbor’s vote to stay or move. What we say in the school hall or lunch room will touch our classmate’s growth and may well guide his or her life for good or ill, for God or for grief. In more ways than we imagine, the fact is you and I cast deciding votes everyday that affect God’s kingdom on earth as surely as in heaven.

Long before election ads, and definitely before debates, and inarguably before independent polling, God has had an interest in how we cast the deciding votes in our lives. Old Joshua, Moses’ most trusted lieutenant (brother Aaron aside), knew about deciding votes a thousand years before Jesus instructed us to keep his new commandant. ‘That we love one another as he loves us. Israel has walked from slavery to freedom through the sea. She has wandered in the wilderness, worshipped the golden idol, and seen the Promised Land. She has lived long enough with God’s wonders to wonder if they are wonderful at all. Somehow they are just part of everyday life. ‘Not alot different from how we look on all the material mysteries and good fortunes of our own time. We just assume this is the way things are meant to be. God’s people have taken to worshipping idols. Little stone things. Carvings of creatures presumed to have power over life. Why? Simply because it’s believed to be so. Joshua knows better. So up on the hillside he calls God’s people to vote. “Choose you this day whom you will serve. But as for me and my house, we will choose the Lord.” You may say, “Pastor, you told us this last week or month or year. And so did the fellow before you in our church or in my life.” It’s true. But how often do we make little or lesser Gods of the things of our creation? Our schedules. Our kids' practices or report cards. Our homes, cars, portfolios, accounts, and cravings to satisfy ourselves alone (from intimate images to imaginary worlds on the electric highway). To all of this Joshua stills speaks to say there is a choice at hand. And it belongs to us, and us alone. ‘The first thing to note when we ask how will you choose is this: will I choose for my idols, or for my God? Will I sense that God has a stake in this, or insist that it’s only about me, or my, or mine? We cast deciding votes everyday. They can overheat the world, cool a human heart, or crush a human soul (quite possibly our own).

Jesus has a word for us. If you want to vote for God, for his kingdom on earth as in heaven, begin here. Vote in favor of what love requires. That sounds so easy. So lovely. But it is not. Jesus will not settle for soap opera antics. He is not interested in romance novel nonsense. Jesus has no time or taste for self-absorbed pleasures masquerading as real relationships. Jesus says, “Love one another as I love you”. We’re talking lay down your life kind of love here. We are talking you first kind of love. Was there one sentence most difficult to flow from our lips in our time and place here is the sentence. Just two words: You first. [Ross Forcey] Can you imagine how different the current political campaign would be if the slogan of one or both candidates read like this: You first. Not us first. Not me first. Imagine what kind of world it might be if nations said to each other, "You first." Not us. Not me. And what on earth might our families look like or our churches? Do you gather at the table as a family for meals? Do you pray together? Do you visit for parent conferences together? Do you vacation together? Do you visit grandma or the lonely lady next door together? Do you worship together? Do you, as a dedicated church member, seek out new members? Do you encourage them to come to church? ‘To belong to our fellowship? Or do let them slip away as so many newly members do? Do you seek out the families of those newly baptized babies welcome them into the fold? O, love is such an easy word in our day, but it is such a rare thing. Think out loud a minute. Can you name somebody or sometime or some act you have seen of real love? You first love? Take a moment. Turn to your neighbor. Share a word of what you’ve seen. … ….

Yours is the deciding vote. Remember Kevin Costner? Whether or not you saw his film I can tell you this for sure. Nobody chose his character to have the last word. It just sort of happened. Not so with us. Listen to what Jesus says. And remember when he says it. He’s hours from the cross. He can already feel its weight though he has not yet borne its form. Still its imprint is on his soul. Yet Jesus, Jesus says this. “No longer do I call you servants for the servant doesn’t know what his master’s doing. But I have called you friends. All that I’ve heard from my father I’ve shared with you. You didn’t choose me but I chose you. And appointed you. ‘Appointed you that you should bear fruit that lasts.” Hollywood lets things happen by chance. Heaven insists things happen by choice. It is God who does the choosing in the first place. Almost unbelievably, God commissions and equips us as his agents in the everyday-affairs of the earth-he-so-treasures. Jesus & his Own instruct us to choose: the Voters Guide of the Christ of God.

  1. Love God with your all, your neighbor/yourself. Love as I love. Mt. 22: 37
  2. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Eph. 4:32
  3. Love your enemies, do good; lend, expecting no return. Lk. 6: 35
  4. Do not kill. Be not angry: or be liable to judgment. Mtt. 5: 21
  5. If anyone strikes your right cheek, turn to him the other. Mtt. 5: 39
  6. Feed the hungry, quench the thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, visit the sick and *imprisoned. They are… me. Mtt. 25: 35
  7. Observe the weightier matters of the law: justice, mercy, faith. Mtt. 23: 23
  8. Pray like this: Thy Kingdom on earth as in Heaven. Lk. 11: 2
  9. Don’t be afraid. Go to where I promise to meet you. Mtt. 28: 10
  10. Make disciples: baptize, teach, [preach], cast out demons. Mtt. 28; Mk. 16

Friends, vote for these things, everyday, and you will indeed cast the deciding vote, in strength for today, and hope for tomorrow!

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