Since politics addresses issues such as human rights, poverty, wealth, and reconciliation, it is impossible for Christians to be apolitical. Jesus himself was crucified for being an alternative king to Caesar (John chapter 19 verse 15). Moreover, the scripture teaches that “there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God” (Romans chapter 13 verse 1) and that prayer for those in “high positions” must be offered (1 Timothy chapter 2 verse 2). Beyond this, many believers seem near obsessive about the political realm. Whether in relation to so-called “Trumpism” or the misnomer of a “miracle election” of Scott Morrison, the language of the Bible is being hijacked by the powers of our day. Re Trump, it was foolish to appropriate vocabulary used uniquely of the pagan Cyrus as “the LORD’s anointed” (Isaiah chapter 45 verse 1) to a political leader outside of biblical Israel. Re Morrison, since by definition a miracle is manifestly supernatural and cannot be analysed by this-world categories then our last federal election was no miracle. There is only one biblical means of discerning power, it is love.
What are we Hearing?
In scripture, “beastly” power is loud and arrogant (Daniel chapter 7 verse 8, Revelation chapter 13 verse 5). But of Messiah it was said, “He will not quarrel or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets; 20 a bruised reed he will not break, and a smouldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory; 21 and in his name the Gentiles will hope.”” (Matthew chapter 12 verses 19-21). The voice of the Lord is beautiful to listen to whilst ungodly power is always self-referential. People who love themselves love to speak about themselves. In biblical language such a person is “a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians chapter 13 verse 1). Such men all share a spirit of deprivation and profound inner emptiness. They seem unable to love in an intimate way. From Russia to Brazil to the Philippines and America millions of Christians, by reaction or reaction, have been distracted by these sorts of men. They fail the test of fatherly love; “being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God abut also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us” (1 Thessalonians chapter 2 verse 8).
Look to Jesus
Jesus never spoke about himself as the ultimate goal of his mission, ““I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John chapter 14 verse 6). Instead the Lord stresses that he is the way to someone “greater” than himself (John chapter 14 verse 28). The Father is “greater” than Jesus in his own estimation. The implications for believers are manifest, , “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” This is what it means to have the “mind of Christ” (Philippians chapter 2 verses 3, 5). Have you ever witnessed this disposition towards opponents by any politician of left or right? Love is the measure of everything. But “love” is a slippery and almost useless word.
It would be idolatrous for me to love an ideal Australia of the 50’s in which I grew up, just as much as for someone to love a mythical Christian America. I doubt if the notion of a Christian nation even make sense. The real love of Christ destroys all such fantasies because it is an outworking of other-centred pain. “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans chapter 5 verse 8). Love is real when it bears a personal cost so that someone else’s life might benefit. This pure love reached perfection in Christ, is always seen in the martyrs but is deemed irrelevant in the political world. Whilst living in the world we are not of the world because Jesus’ kingdom “is not of this world” (John chapter 13 verse 36). Love is the mark of the Christian (John chapter 13 verses 34-35).
Political realism is attractive to many Western Christians because their lives are already worldy and compromised. But Christ calls us to a higher standard, to imitate and exemplify his own self-sacrificial love for enemies. This is the power which in the End will convert all things, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” (Revelation chapter 11 verse 15). Anything less than this is grossly uninteresting.
The Rev. Dr John Yates is an Anglican minister in Perth and has 5 children and 7 grandchildren. He spends time in praying, mentoring and writing.John Yates’s previous articles may be viewed athttp://www.pressserviceinternational.org/john-yates.html