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Bipartisanship is a word that has come on the fore front in recent times in the western democracy political sphere. Typically self seeking political parties tout bipartisanship as a gesture towards working together on matters of mutual benefit. An anti terrorism bill or a tough on crime legislation may bring conservatives and liberals together at the same table. But as with politics, quite often, the bi partisan efforts may ultimately simply be to advance one party’s interest, and often self aggrandizing intentions are revealed much later, proving how bipartisanship is quite difficult on the human political front.
If God however were to weigh in on the political landscape I believe he would be truly bi partisan and not merely for self gain or to glean public good will.
This is primarily because though God cares about humanity and their dealings, for God’s government, though quite real, is not of this earth.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6
Many conservative and fundamental evangelicals have taken the above scripture, and others alike to mean that God is very interested in politics. In fact some of these sometimes well meaning pundits, go further, and name the favoured party that God wants elected. However, this scripture though affirming God’s involvement in government points to a different type of government. Daniel tells us that this is a kingdom that is heavenly. One that cannot be destroyed, and will have no end. (Daniel 2:44) See, through time governments (or nations) have come and gone, whether it be the Egyptian, Grecian, Babylonian Persian or Roman Empire. All have had their time ruling globally, but yet these kingdoms have passed. God’s government however is one that is concerned with the affairs of the kingdom. This kingdom seeks for righteousness, peace, joy, justice, and the reconciliation of God in man.
Jesus the foremost proponent of this kingdom adamantly refused to lend support to politicizing when he was asked to. Here are just a few of his pronouncements
Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”. John 18:36
Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” Matthew 22:21
In the first scripture he tells us that his kingdom is not earthly and thus he wouldn’t engage in physical violence to defend his efforts.
In the second scripture the disciples were trying to get his political views on paying taxes, and again he answers in like manner. God is not interested in weighing in on these politically. Does this mean as Christians we shouldn’t choose a political party? That since Jesus didn’t vote, we must stand idly by and let others decide the political fate of our country?
Definitely not. As citizens in a natural world, we do need to exercise our citizenship rights. I believe God wants us to seek him on who to vote for, and in other matters of political involvement. But we do stand in contrast to many who claim they have the “corner on the Christian vote”. As if God has a favourite candidate? Platforms need to be researched and candidates need to be approached, however this cannot simply decide who Christians should vote for.
We need to also commit the matter to prayer, while steering clear of politicizing Christian leaders who try to sway our vote in the direction of their candidate. Just as Jesus didn’t weigh in on political matters, the Church needs to be careful in giving political advice, or it may be on dangerous ground. Many politicians have aligned with the Christian faith while it was advantageous. History has indeed taught us this lesson and we should well learn from it. Constantine the emperor of Rome in early 300ad is a prime example of this. His stated conversion to Christianity may have caused the Christian cause more harm than good. Some insightful theologians have revealed that he may have joined the Christian bandwagon because of its rising popularity. At any rate his clear actions in forcing a pagan empire to accept Christ, measuring conversion by confession of faith in Christ, not by true internal heart transformation via the person of Christ.
While the debate rages as to how vocal the Christian movement should be in the political realm, there is clear scriptural directive on the kingdom approach to politics that is often largely ignored or simply understated. This is the instruction to pray, and to respect our leaders.
In 1 Timothy 2, Christians are called to pray for their leaders first and foremost above, voting, lobbying, protesting, or even writing a letter to their local government representative. Secondly we are called to respect our leaders even though they may oppose our values. Too often do Christians bad mouth secular leaders, on the grounds of their incompetence. But to do this is to disobey the command to honour our political leaders ( 1 Peter 2:17).
My prayer as I close this article is that Christians everywhere will take seriously the importance of their God given duty to see peace in the government of their nations. And that we would respectfully pray for our leaders, to see Gods will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
– Pastor Olu Jegede