April 21, 2022 Samuel Lindsay

Christians & Elections – Part 1

Christians & Elections – Part 1

The old adage goes: “Don’t discuss politics or religion”. One can certainly understand the wisdom that there is a time and place for everything, and that these topics can touch on deeply held convictions, but “don’t talk about it”? Is that really the way to go?

Is it any wonder that politics and religion are in such a woeful state in Australia when important discussion topics are almost taboo in ordinary conversation?

I’m not implying causality here, but I am suggesting that the spirit of “don’t rock the boat” can have dangerous consequences, especially if you’re heading for a reef!

Now before you start to worry, no, I’m not about to say that we all need to become activists or rant on Facebook. With the federal election campaign underway, it seems prudent to be reminded about the principles of authority from God, and how those timeless principles apply to this time and place. It may take a couple weeks to cover all these topics, so you can anticipate further instalments.

To be sure, it’s not my place to endorse certain parties or decry particulars of policy in public, but it is quite appropriate proclaim the Truth and all it’s implications in the life of people. Speaking both to believers and outsiders about what God has said, and what he requires of us, should not be limited by politeness or a mirage of nicety.

The Christian faith is inherently political.

We cannot divide our lives into nice, neat boxes of family, work, faith, politics, etc. All of these things intertwine and affect the others. Some people seem to think that religion should have no role to play in our modern democracy, forgetting all the while that many of the people who make up the voting population have deep religious convictions that affect their values and votes (and let us not forget that Christianity formed the cultures that gave rise the democratic systems we enjoy today!).

To be a Christian that votes is to immediately connect faith and politics. What we value should align with what God values, and what we as God’s people despise, should align with what God despises. Thus to vote puts all of us in a position of applying matters of faith directly to politics.

There have been many societies throughout history that have understood the inherently political nature of Christianity. The wicked tyrant can see that our religion can undermine regimes because our allegiances are primarily with a God outside their control. This is probably most well known in the ancient Roman empire, where at times Christians were persecuted because they proclaimed Christ is Lord, and not Caesar. It is no coincidence that where horrendous political powers and philosophies arise, the Church is supressed. A few modern examples include Germany under Nazism, USSR under communism, China under, um, kind-of-socialism(?), and dictatorships with power hungry leaders.

Conversely, people who created political systems of the most free and fair societies around the world understood that it would only really work when the voting population was made up of people who serve the Lord God.

Pervasive Power

Christ goes with his people, out into the world. And there he upturns empires and throws down tyrants. Christ is not constrained by the location of his people, but he often works through the ordinary means of Christians going out into the world and spreading the Good News. With people made new, born again, their lives are changed from the inside out! The reality of spiritual rebirth plays out in their lives with real effect. It is no coincidence that where God’s people go there is less crime, less substance abuse, stronger families, more stable institutions, more justice and more mercy.

But, if you are deceived, if your world view has been seriously warped by trying to depose God, you will not see the light of the Gospel and God’s people as wonderful things to be encouraged. You will instead see it as an existential threat to your existence and the twisted fantasies you value most dearly.

In that sense we are an insurgency – bringing the light into the darkness of this condemned world. But we are not here to kill and steal and destroy, rather we are here to herald the one who overthrows death, grants eternal riches and builds that which can never be destroyed.

We are in the world, but not of it (Jo 17:13–19), exiles on the way to our eternal home. And being in the world, we are to live peaceably (Ro 12:18) and work for the common good (Gal 6:10, Jer 29:4–9). Knowing the true source of all that is good, means that we are equipped to use our small power of a vote to serve the common good of our neighbours.

In theory, the earthly power in this nation lies in the hands of voters. Providentially, each of us holds a small piece of it. Now, it may only be “one talent” (cf. Ma 25:14–30) so to speak, but we want to invest it wisely for the sake of our Master so that he might see a good return.

Our Master, the Lord Jesus Christ rules and reigns over all earthly authorities, and that basic principle underlies everything as we consider this topic, so next week we will start there!

Samuel Lindsay