God and Politics

A week is a long time in politics. Scratch that… A day is a long time in politics! What a week it has been. We are now on our PM number 5 in 5 years. Remember when we used to laugh at the Italian political system with their revolving door PM’s? Well, who’s laughing now?

Federal politics has been toxic, distasteful and Machiavellian for the last 5 years. There are, perhaps, many and varied complex factors at work for this emerging political instability: the rise of social media, egotistical ambition, social and cultural shifts in society, global unrest, and others.

But I am perhaps a bit more dismayed in the misplaced hope and passion I see from Christians regarding politics. Let me be clear: I think Christians should actively and energetically be involved in the political processes of our nation from grassroots to federally. However, I have heard Christian people say things, and post things on social media, such as “I hate [insert politician here]”, and express spite and venom at human beings made in God’s image, all because of their particular political affiliation. By all means, be passionate for a cause, principles and what you view as the right way forward for the nation; but resist demonising and dehumanising others with whom you disagree. On the other hand, I have heard and seen some politicians or political parties slavishly adored in deeply worrying messianic overtones. The truth is, political parties and politicians are flawed and will never provide the hope and transformation the world needs. There are effective and prudent parties and chaotic ones, but nonetheless, they are temporary and fallible.

Here’s a quick political idolatry test you can administer: Do I feel really happy when my political party win? Do I feel really despondent and even angry when they lose? Does my side of politics look and sound like Jesus while my political opponents look and sound like the devil? If you answer yes to these questions, your heart is likely focussed and set unhealthily on your political party. Time to set it back to God.

Christians are not meant to be tribal, parochial or spiteful toward our leaders. We are not meant to put our hope and trust in our political leaders, or to hate them, but we are called to submit to them and to pray for them. The apostle Paul puts it like this:

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. (Rom 13)

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 Tim 2)

So pray for our nation and our leaders. Submit to them. And trust God.

Nicholas Tuohy

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