When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” Acts 16:27-28
It’s election day, that time when we get the opportunity to do our civic duty, playing our part in democracy. Almost 140 million people voted in the 2016 presidential election and this year’s turnout promises to be bigger. We all have a responsibility to vote as this whole thing only works if we all use our voice.
Based on the numbers though, it’s helpful for me to be reminded of the significance of my vote which will probably be less than 1 in 150,000,000. It’s easy to fight with friends and family over who gets our vote, but while we bicker, there are some far more important things that I completely ignore. Honestly, it’s easy to inflate the importance of this one decision, while neglecting far more significant daily decisions.
In today’s passage, the influence of one man’s actions – which had nothing to do with politics – is recorded for us. In the story, Paul and Silas were imprisoned for disturbing the peace, when around midnight, an earthquake opened all the doors and the prisoner’s chains fell off. When the jailer awoke and saw the condition of his prison, he prepared to take his own life, knowing that he would be blamed for the escape. Paul, having already seen one jailer killed after a previous escape, didn’t leave though. Do not harm yourself, for we are all here. Paul’s gracious actions that night not only saved the jailer’s life, but his soul as well. Upon seeing the prisoners still in their cells, he cried out, Sirs, what must I do to be saved (Acts 16:30)?
It’s easy for us as Christians to be seduced into thinking that we can bring about God’s will through the power of politics and man, but Jesus and Paul were far more interested in changing one life at a time. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be involved in politics. We can and should vote on this day. It just means that we must realize where our power to truly change things comes from.
Today, am I following God and loving my neighbors? Elections and presidents come and go, but how I live every day can have an eternal impact within my own circle of influence, one life at a time.