A number of events of the past week or so demonstrate certain truths. Governments come and go, leaders come and go, but God’s reign remains unchanged. Some political and social changes are for the better, and some for the worse, but above all this remains a sovereign God who is working out his divine purposes.
Without faith in a God who is over and above the affairs of men, it would be all too easy to lose heart and to be overwhelmed with all the changes happening in our world. Indeed, the believer knows that putting hope in politics or politicians will always ultimately disappoint.
While we are of course to be involved in the social and political processes of the day, we do not put our faith in what our earthly leaders do, or don’t do, but in God. It is a hard balance to attain, but that is how we must operate. Pulling out of all involvement is the wrong way to go, but so too is putting all our hope in political solutions.
Consider just six rather momentous upheavals in the past week or so – some good, some bad. Overseas, we heard of the death of Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez. He died of cancer at 58, and many Venezuelans would be rejoicing right now that this evil tyrant is no longer plundering the country and abusing the people.
And of course just prior to that we had the shock resignation of the Pope. This has only happened a few times in history, so it was a startling event indeed. As we speak the momentous decision is being made at the Vatican as to who will be the next Pope. It is hoped he will be one who stands strong especially on the moral and cultural issues of the day, when so many around us are caving in.
Speaking of caving in, consider these two incredible turn-arounds. First, the Queen has apparently decided to become a stooge for the militant homosexual agenda. The headline says it all: “Queen to sign new charter backing gay rights”. One article begins as follows:
“The Queen will sign a new Commonwealth charter opposing discrimination suffered by women, gay people and ethnic minorities. In a special ceremony to mark Commonwealth Day on Monday, she will also give a speech endorsing the new agreement which states signatories oppose ‘all forms of discrimination, whether rooted in gender, race, colour, creed, political belief or other grounds’.”
And she is supposed to be doing this? Wasn’t there something about defending the Christian faith involved in her role as Queen? Since when does extending special rights to homosexuals fit into that job description? What a sell-out to her faith and her people.
In a similar vein, Australian Opposition Leader Tony Abbott is also caving in big time it seems. In an interview aired on 60 Minutes last night he made a number of worrying remarks. As to his lesbian sister (who walked out on her husband and children to enjoy her new lifestyle), Abbott said he has altered his views over the years on this and other contentious issues.
Indeed, it seems being electable has now become his overriding commitment, even ahead of principle. When asked about his Catholic faith, he said it was still important to him, but “it must never, never dictate my politics”. Come again? Just how is he going to detach his faith from his political life?
The truth is, everyone has a religion, a worldview, that shapes how they think and feel about everything. One cannot simply dislodge one’s worldview and exist in some sort of ideological netherworld, or remain in some sort of religious neutral gear. Instead of playing down his faith, he should have pointed out that everyone has a faith, even the secularists.
Two further Australian political events round out this quick survey. In Victoria, Premier Ted Baillieu suddenly resigned, to be replaced by former Liberal leader Denis Napthine. The former was a bit of a do-nothing, lame-duck leader who was going nowhere fast. Worse yet, there was very little about him which could be called conservative, especially in the moral and cultural arenas.
His successor is much more conservative, having voted against the notorious 2008 abortion bill for example. So things are looking better in Victoria, although it is yet early days, and we would be foolish to put too much hope in any one government or leader to overcome some of these horrific laws.
Finally, we just had the WA state elections. Everyone expected the Liberals and Nationals to get back in, but no one seemed to see what a major shellacking it was going to be. A huge swing against Labor means they are history for some time to come there. And the Greens did appallingly badly as well, which is more good news.
Moreover, this is sending even more shock waves through Federal Labor. Julia is a dead man walking, as is the Party. Dumping her however may not turn things around much before the September Federal election. So the entire country may soon be just about back in Coalition hands.
But of course these things come and go. Not too long ago pretty much all of Australia was under Labor rule, or mis-rule. So these movements keep going back and forth; which is just one reason why believers must never place all their hope and faith in politics. Sure, we must be involved, and seek to promote righteousness in the political arena, but we realise that no political party or politician will fully be up to scratch.
We all should seek to work for godly government, and seek to work for a just and righteous social and political order. But on this side of eternity, perfection will always elude us. Ultimately only one real King will rule with complete righteousness, fairness, and ethical purity.
Thus we must keep some biblical truths in mind here. The wisdom literature teaches us much about these matters. For example, it is God who brings one king down, and exalts another (Psalm 75:7). It is God who disciplines the nations, and even punishes them (Psalm 94:10). It is God who will crush kings on the day of his wrath (Psalm 110:5).
We realise that “it is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes” (Psalm 118:9). Indeed, we are not to ‘put our trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save’ (Psalm 146:3). Instead, we must take to heart this truth: “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people” (Proverbs 14:34).
Also worth holding onto is this truism: “In the LORD’s hand the king’s heart is a stream of water that he channels toward all who please him” (Proverbs 21:1). So too this: “When a country is rebellious, it has many rulers, but a ruler with discernment and knowledge maintains order” (Proverbs 28:2).
And this: “When the righteous triumph, there is great elation; but when the wicked rise to power, people go into hiding” (Prov 28:12). And again, “When the godly are in authority, the people rejoice. But when the wicked are in power, they groan…. By justice a king gives a country stability, but one who is greedy for bribes tears it down” (Proverbs 29:2,4).
These and other biblical truths must always be kept in mind as we engage in our important obligations in the here and now. We must be salt and light on planet earth, but we must also always bear in mind the eternal perspective on these matters.
If not, our hearts will be overwhelmed by what we are seeing taking place around us. With nations crashing, rulers falling, and the hearts of men growing weak, we must stand strong. Psalm 46:1-3 must be a mainstay here:
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.”
Or as Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27).