Christians & Elections – Part 3
It’s a classic story, there’s a bright eyed and bushy tailed young person. They see many of the problems and injustices of the world, so they sign up to support a political party that reflects their values. Before long, they’re preselected to run as a candidate in an election.
This young politician is passionate, excited and hopeful. They stick to their guns and they want to make real, positive change! Their enthusiasm is contagious. They attract votes because people see the fervour and the strong stance. Maybe this will be the one who will really deliver on their promises?
But, it’s not long after they’re voted into office that the passion seems to cool. The language is more toned down. They say a lot of words, but they don’t really say anything at all. They seem to have lost the fiery mettle that made them so appealing as a representative of the people.
The voters get jaded, and the cycle starts all over again.
It’s this kind of thing that makes us doubt everything that comes out of a politician’s mouth. The dodging and weaving during interviews. The constant excuses…
It is a great reminder to us of the human condition. It shouldn’t be this way, but everybody is sinner.
All Humans are sinful (including the ones we like most)
Back in the day, rulers promoted propaganda to portray themselves as god-kings, perfect leaders who do no wrong. Or later on it was the Divine Right of Kings, taking true Christian principles of authority and abusing them to legitimate their political position as if they could do no wrong.
Australians don’t go in for any of that. We are keenly aware of the failings of our leaders. Disrespecting politicians is a national pastime. Now, we Christians need to fight the prevailing wind and remember to respect and honour our leaders (even the ones we don’t like), but the benefit of our cultural moment is that we have no naïve notions that our leaders are any different from the person in the street.
That means that they are sinners just like us.
We need to remember this as we go to the ballot box. We are voting for local representatives for the lower house, and state reps for the upper house who are just as broken and in need of Christ as everybody else.
Don’t be swayed by the slick marketing or smooth talk to think this candidate or that party is the solution to all our ills. Knowing the Creator of the universe and the corruption of humankind prepares us for their inevitable failures.
It also prepares us to look beyond their weaknesses. We hope in a Lord God who works in human hearts and guides history. We vote with eyes wide open with realistic expectations, that our representatives are not perfect, but our God can use them to work wonderful things.
God uses means
All Bible believing Christians know that God works miracles, but sometimes we forget that the majority of God’s work in the world uses ordinary means, even the betrayal by Judas for 30 pieces of silver. Think of the ordinary means He used to bring about the protestant reformation, working in hearts and aligning circumstances. Think about the end to the British slave trade through the political efforts of William Wilberforce. There are hopefull signs that the legal precedence for baby murder in the USA may be undone through ordinary means.
God often uses unlikely candidates, but He also uses “likely” ones. If we desire leaders that love justice and righteousness, we should start by voting in candidates who already do.
And if we can’t find any, at least we can vote for a Saul instead of a Jeroboam.
It’s tough to vote for people that most of us will never meet. But I think we should do what we can to learn about who we’re voting for. We only have one* vote, and we want to use it to promote people who are most likely to work towards a nation that glorifies God in this great land girt by sea.
Who are you voting for?
It is very relevant to remember who you are voting for.
Despite the media hype, you are not voting for a Prime Minister, unless he/she happens to represent your electorate. Even then, the PM can change with a caucus vote next week!
Because the people who created our system of government knew the depravity of humanity, and the corrupting influence of power, our government is divided into three sections: Legislative, Executive and Judicial. This spreads power and responsibility across different roles to make it much harder for any one person or group to take over the whole show and have their way. This is a blessing from God, in my opinion.
You are voting for a local representative and senators for the Legislative branch. Not for a Head of State or other executive leaders of the country. You see, the PM and ministers belong to the Executive branch. While they are almost always taken from the pool of members in the House of Reps, they are not appointed by the people. We voters only choose the pool of people, some of whom will get the fancy positions.
This may be Politics 101 for you, but many of us were never taught how our government works.
When you think about placing your vote, my encouragement is to think much less about who has the Executive jobs (something you have very little control over) and focus on the character and capability of the person you want to represent you in the place where they make laws.
I’m a realist, I know it’s not possible to get to know the hundreds of senator candidates, but we should at least be as informed as is reasonablly possible so we can vote with a clear conscience, not in ignorance.
You can see your candidates here: https://aec.gov.au/election/candidates.htm
While we concern ourselves with who will be representing us in our federal government, I’m so thankful we have a representative in the government of the Cosmos: Jesus Christ himself who is the man who defeated sin and won life on our behalf. He is seated at the right hand of the Father with Authority over all things in Heaven and on Earth! He is enacting his policy "to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross" (Col 1:20).
*Our preferential voting system means a vote used well may be counted multiple times, but in the final count it still only acts as one.