The 1948 Texas Senate primary was as contentious as it was questionable. Lyndon Johnson won by just 87 votes. “Landslide Lyndon” went on to win the Senate campaign, rule the floor of the United States Senate, serve as Vice President, and ultimately President (1963-1969).
Every vote matters! But that is only one reason I am voting today.
When I was a nine-years-old, I canvassed my hometown of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, placing door knockers at house after house. Reluctantly, albeit dutifully, I campaigned on behalf of my father who won that race for City Council. Dad served our city for years as councilman and was mayor three times.
Civic duty runs deep in my veins. But it is only one reason I am voting today.
One day — at the temple — the Pharisee’s plotted to trap Jesus in a political squabble: “Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” (Matthew 22:17 ESV). Jesus’ reply silenced his critics and motivates me:
I went to bed last night with the words, “Render to Ceasar” on my mind. They were still hanging around when I awoke this morning. Commenting on this verse, John Piper writes:
What is God’s? The answer: Everything is God’s. So the point seems to be: When you realize that all of life, including all of Caesar’s rights and power and possessions, belong to God, then you will be in a proper frame of mind to render to Caesar what is Caesar’s.
When you know that all is God’s, then anything you render to Caesar you will render for God’s sake. Any authority you ascribe to Caesar you will ascribe to him for the sake of God’s greater authority. Any obedience you render to Caesar you will render for the sake of the obedience you owe first to God. Any claim Caesar makes on you, you test by the infinitely higher claim God has on you.
Every vote matters. Civic duty runs deep. But there is a third reason I am voting today — a more important rationale: I am voting because God is sovereign and I am responsible. In some small way my voting speaks to God’s higher claim on my life.
As a Christian, I live sandwiched between sovereignty and responsibility.
God is sovereign. As if to make this point crystal clear, three times Daniel says: “the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will and sets over it the lowliest of men” (Daniel 4:17). He was referring to Nebuchadnezzar of course, but the same can be said of Lyndon Johnson, my dad, and President Trump. God, in his providence, allowed them to “rule.”
I am responsible. To “render” is to “give back.” It is the same word Paul uses in Romans 13:7, “Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.” (NIV). Both Jesus and Paul describe my responsibility to God as one in which I engage this world.
I care about the election—so I vote. I care about the results—so I vote. I care about our country and it’s future—so I vote. But more importantly, I recognize God is working out his purposes and uses my vote to his ends.
It’s election day. “Render to Ceasar the things that are Ceasar’s and to God the things that are God’s.”
“What is God’s? The answer: Everything is God’s….” from “Render to Caesar the Things That Are Caesar’s” by John Piper, Desiring God. November 4, 1992. www.desiringgod.org. Accessed November 6, 2018.