It is that time in New Zealand, when our thoughts focus once again on politics as another election draws near. Don't worry, this is not a party political broadcast and I am not telling you which political party you should vote for. Rather this reflects some of my thinking on how God's mission and human government interact.
Politics and the Divine Plan
Firstly, it is crucial to remember that God's sovereignty extends over all aspects of human existence, including politics. The Bible gives numerous examples of God's intervention and involvement in political affairs. We are all familiar with the book of Daniel, where God reveals the rise and fall of kings and empires, emphasising His ultimate authority in the realm of governance (Daniel 2:20-21).
“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever,
to whom belong wisdom and might.
He changes times and seasons;
he removes kings and sets up kings;
he gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to those who have understanding (ESV).
Politics is a human construct that operates within the framework of God's divine plan.
Principles of Justice and Compassion
God's mission, as outlined in the Scriptures, encompasses principles of justice, righteousness, and compassion. Politics, when aligned with these principles, can serve as a platform for promoting social welfare and addressing the needs of all in our society. I love that the prophet Micah implores us to consider how we live,
But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do,
what GOD is looking for in men and women.
It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbour,
be compassionate and loyal in your love,
And don’t take yourself too seriously—
take God seriously. Micah 6:8 (The Message).
These virtues hold relevance in the political arena, where leaders can be agents of change in enacting policies that promote fairness, equality, and the protection of human dignity.
Seeking the Welfare of Society
The pursuit of God's mission within politics necessitates a commitment to seek the welfare of all society. Jeremiah instructs the exiled Israelites to "... seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare" Jeremiah 29:7 (ESV).
When it comes to politics, it is easy to focus on our own interests. This serves as a reminder that political engagement should be driven by a genuine concern for the common good, transcending our own personal interests.
Unity and the Body of Christ
While politics can be divisive as different ideologies and factions clash, the mission of God calls Christians to strive for unity and reconciliation. The apostle Paul exhorts believers to be ambassadors of reconciliation
All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:18-20 (ESV).
While the context is this verse is primarily in regard to reconciling people back to God in salvation, we are ambassadors for Christ in all spheres of society. In the political sphere, this means transcending partisan divisions, working towards consensus-building, and engaging in respectful dialogue that upholds the values of love and unity.
Pray for Our Government
And last, let's pray for those in government. God calls us to pray for our leaders — that they would submit to His leadership for the sake of His will being done and for the advancement of His everlasting kingdom. As followers of Christ, we need to pray for our leaders both in and out of the election season. Paul reminds us
"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. 1 Timothy 2:1–2 (NIV)
So whatever part of the world you are in, whoever is in political leadership where you live, remember God is in control, and He will accomplish His purposes - even through fallible men and women. And for us, let's be faithful to pray that God's will be done (Matt 6:10)