Right to Vote

by David Pattinson, Reader

“I have come to the conclusion that politics is too serious a matter to be left to the politicians.”
Charles de Gaulle, French President

By the time you read this article, you may be just about to vote, or maybe already have voted. You may possibly be “fed up to the back teeth” with all the politicians, programmes, publicity, posturing, policies and promises.

But it is still right to vote.

But how much do Christianity and politics mix? Let me quote from an article I read recently. “The commission of the Church of God is to warn the world of its plight and present danger. It is to help people change their lives so they can be part of God’s coming Kingdom. It is not to get involved in the politics of this world. Our mission is to proclaim Christ’s message to all nations. The good news is that the Kingdom of God is coming!”

The article points out that Jesus did not get involved in the politics of his day, although he was interested in government – but not the government of the day – the government of God. And one suspects there are lots of politicians who would say “Christianity shouldn’t meddle with politics”. However, a leading churchman when challenged with the comment “the Bible and politics don’t mix” responded “Well I don’t know which version of the Bible you are reading!”

When Jesus stands up and makes his inaugural Messianic address – the so called “Nazareth manifesto” of Luke 4 it sounds very political –

“God’s Spirit is on me; he’s chosen me to preach the Message of good news to the poor,
Sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind,
To set the burdened and battered free, to announce, “This is God’s year to act!”
(The Message Bible)

And so does the Old Testament prophetic statement from Micah (6:8)

“But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do,
what God is looking for in men and women.
It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbour,
be compassionate and loyal in your love,
And don’t take yourself too seriously –
take God seriously.”
(The Message Bible)

Good news for the poor; freeing the burdened and battered; fairness; justice – if these are not the territory of politics and government, then what is? For sure, the task for all Christians is to create a better world for everyone to live in. And if that was not enough, we have Jesus’ statement in John 10:10 that

“I have come in order that you might have life-life in all its fullness.”

Isn’t that the vision of politicians? Quality of life all round. So politics and Christianity seem to have plenty of objectives in common. So, we should be challenging our politicians to create a better world. I always admire those people who energetically lobby their politicians on climate change; carbon emissions; aid for the poor.

We should be challenging ourselves to see how our lifestyle matches the call of Micah or how our agenda fits with the Nazareth manifesto.

The Bible does not talk much about rights. Everything belongs to God, so everything we receive is a gift from God. Nothing is ours by right. But we do have responsibilities. And surely one of them is to influence the political direction as much as we can, to ensure that direction is consistent with God’s kingdom.

Whatever the election result, we are still charged with creating that better world that God wills, and which we should strive to build.

“It’s too serious a matter to be left to the politicians”.

David Pattinson

May 2015