We are living in tumultuous political times in the UK unparalleled in recent decades and we are heading for another general election.
Feelings are running high – should we leave the EU with a deal or without a deal? Should we remain or have another referendum? Should we vote Conservative, Labour, SNP, Lib Dems or someone else? Should we sign petitions or perhaps even demonstrate on the streets?
If we are followers of Jesus guided by Bible teaching, how should we approach these things?
Let’s have a look at what the Bible has to say on this issue. Here are four key Bible principles that can help to guide our thinking:
“Do not trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save. When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing”Psalm 146 v 3-4
The Bible consistently teaches in both old and new testaments that we should not put our hope or trust in men or women, or in human philosophies or political creeds to right the injustices and cure the ills we see in the world around us – only God will accomplish this when he sends his son Jesus back to the earth.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that some, in fact probably most political rulers in the UK make sterling efforts to try and improve life for the citizens of this country.
The problem is that these leaders do not rule according to the teaching and commandments of God, but rather according to human ideas, many of which are diametrically opposed to God’s teaching.
A vote for a political party is a vote for all their policies, not just the ones you like.
“[God] rules the kingdom of men and gives it whom he wills and sets over it the lowliest of men”Daniel 4 v 17
The Bible is quite emphatic in its message that God is at work behind the scenes in our world bringing rulers to prominence and then removing them once they have achieved the purpose required of them.
Sometimes God will even raise up evil rulers for the purpose of judgement (such as Nebuchadnezzar as described in Habakkuk 1 v 5-11). At other times he might raise up good rulers for the purpose blessing and reward.
The problem we have is that we don’t have a direct line to God to know who he wants in power at any given time. We might think we know who is the best of the bunch, but how can we possibly know who God wants? God says:
“My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways”Isaiah 55 v 8
Say we made a choice and voted, what if we ended up in the position of supporting the person God doesn’t want? Surely we don’t want to set ourselves in opposition to the will of God (as futile as that would be)?
“Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting… but my kingdom is not from the world”John 18 v 36
Jesus taught that now is not the time to get involved in politics or fighting. Now is a time to preach, to live by the gospel and wait patiently for his return.
When Jesus returns he will set up a political system that will be just and fair. A system that will have the power and authority to bring an end to all the suffering and injustices in the world – in the end even death will be abolished!
Jesus taught his disciples not to fight and not get involved in the political issues of the day.
If we want to be disciples of Jesus today, then who better an example to follow than the disciples of Jesus?
“[The faithful followers of God] admitted openly that they were foreigners and refugees on the earth… instead it was a better country they longed for, the heavenly country”Hebrews 11 v 13-16 (Good News Bible)
If we are whole-heartedly committed to following God and waiting for the return of his son to set up his kingdom, we should live now as if we are temporary residents of a country (or even “refugees” as the Good News Bible translates above).
If you are a refugee you don’t have the right to vote or participate in the political activities or institutions of your temporary homeland – this is the mind-set that is held up as an example for disciples of Jesus to follow.
We might think of the words of the Lord’s prayer “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” – this is the country we are waiting for.
So what can we do?
So with these principles in mind, what can we do? Although our understanding is that Jesus teaches us not to get involved in politics, there are many other opportunities for us to make a real difference to the people we meet every day as we journey through life.
There is plenty of opportunity to bring the love, compassion and message of Jesus to those in the world around us without getting embroiled in the messy political affairs of mankind.
He tells us that we should be busy feeding the hungry, giving shelter to the homeless, comforting the sick and spreading the good news about the forgiveness of sins and his kingdom to come.
That seems like plenty to keep us occupied! So let’s get busy with these things while we wait patiently for him.