We voted for our politicians last Saturday. It’s compulsory in our nation.
After living in a small country town, we were accustomed to short queues, so it was a shock to find ourselves standing in one of three long lines in a large school hall with hundreds of other people. For us, voting meant catching up with friends and acquaintances, or even strangers, while we waited to perform our civic duty.
Here in the city, we all silently inched forward until we eventually reached the front where the officials were organising who went next. Hardly anyone in the crowd spoke to us and if we were tempted to start a conversation, we felt we’d be rebuffed. We saw no-one whom we knew. It was all a bit of a culture shock for us!
I stood in line and looked at my fellow voters. I wondered if they’d like to share this time in a more enjoyable way. Perhaps they were afraid someone might want to discuss politics! Or even ‘worse’, religion!
When our turn came, we presented ourselves before the table and had our name crossed off the roll. Then we could vote. What a paradox!
Once we’d made our pencil marks in the squares of our choice, we folded the ballot papers so they’d fit through the slit in the box. The one for the Senate took some effort; it was so long and thick. We pushed them in and left the hall.
A couple of people were walking down the path ahead of us and the man announced to anyone who might be listening, ‘Well, that was a waste of an hour’.
‘I hope not’, I said. His wife smiled at me and said, ‘Yes!’
Since the election I’ve meditated on the way everyone is confronted by the candidates outside the polling stations. They have their photos, their smiles and their promises with suggestions on how to vote for them. ‘Choose me’, they say. ‘I’ll give you what you want’.
I’ve thought about the difference between us choosing candidates to run the country and the way Jesus chose us. On one hand, they plead, holding out their hands, offering solutions to the world’s needs as if they’re offering paradise to us. They want us to remember their names, to believe their promises, to choose them.
On the other hand, Jesus also reaches out to us, his hands bearing those nail wounds that show the extent of his genuine love. He died for us. These are the words he said to his friends:
‘You did not choose me; I chose you…’
They are the words he says to us too. He also has a roll, but he doesn’t need to search for our name in his book. Jesus knows us all personally. If we believe that he died for us, he’ll never cross our names off his list!
I’d rather be one of his chosen ones. Wouldn’t you?