Politics in Perspective

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people- for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.  This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. (1 Tim. 2:1-4)

The 2016 Federal Election is on in just under a week. Have you decided who to vote for?

Election campaigns have never really been entirely civil affairs. There's always been plenty of mud-slinging and personal attack, plenty of lies and empty promises. It seems to me though, more than in recent years, that it's hard to really see what the candidates and parties before us stand for. Whether the issues at hand are moral and ethical or social and economic, it really feels like the options we have are difficult to trust.

That's a hard proposition in any election, but perhaps it seems more pointed this time around given the number of present issues that are close to the Christian heart. This isn't a "tell you how to vote" piece. It's just a simple call for perspective.  

There is much that rides on the positions and policies of the political parties that represent us. Some of them represent the Christian position on non-gospel matters better than others. But we also feel the weight of the fact that we see no party that captures our positions perfectly. Where a party appears reasonable to us on one issue, they are completely unacceptable on another.

For many the end result seems to be fear - that we will lose out on some issue whoever the victor is.

When the Apostle Paul writes to his ministry colleague, Timothy, he addresses the Christian attitude towards their governing authorities. And the command here is to pray - to pray and give thanks for the government we have, and will have. Notice the reason for such prayers. It's so that Christians would be able to live lives of peace and godliness. And not only that, but these peaceable and godly lives are regarded as good and pleasing to the God who wants to see people saved.

There is a connection here between the God who wants all people to be saved and the government. And it's the Christians who pray and live good lives. It's their conduct which points to God and the salvation that he has promised.

Notice that there is no reference to whether or not this government believes Christian things. This Christian witness, which bears forth from peace and godliness, is one that stands regardless of the climate - regardless of whether Christian faith is experiencing a period of patronage or persecution.

This same sentiment is clear in 1 Peter 2:11-25. We must submit to authorities. It is God that has put them in place. They exist to do justice. And where they do not, Christians are called to endure it well, to suffer even. To point to God and our trust in Jesus. To show, that faith lives for something bigger: For God and eternal life.

A government that holds to some or even many non-Christian positions does not curtail the Christian mission. Nor does it prevent the return of Jesus and the coming of the New Heavens and the New Earth. It is not the end of the world. Those things depend on God. And we make a critical error when we believe that any given government can make or break our experience of life, as if the present is what we are living for.

It comes down to perspective.

We need a perspective that sees eternity as bigger than the present. We need a perspective that sees God as the one in control. We need a perspective that says all things, whether pleasant or painful, are things through which God calls us to minister the gospel to our world.  

So pray for our government and the one to come. And do not fear. God is over them, has even appointed them. And whether we walk happily alongside or struggle against the positions and policies they hold, our godliness and peaceful conduct will testify to the truth and the one whom we follow. 

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