I remember it well. I was asked by a relative at a party why I was so intensely interested in politics. Stumbling for an answer, I didn’t know what to say. It has been a driving interest as far back as I can remember. I recall one such incident as a child. I scoured a local library trying to find a copy of the Australian Constitution. Later I realised the source of my fascination was a sociological one.
Why do humans act as they do? What drives them? How do their glories and failures define them individually and as a society? It remains an ongoing fascination.
It's actually an unquestionable battle of ideas with our hearts and minds being the ultimate battleground.
Thinking about it again recently, my mind considered the great sweep of history. The great figures whose courage, tenacity and persistence saw victory and defeat in equal measure.
Often as Christians we eschew involvement in politics for a number of reasons, including a prevailing sense that compromise is counterproductive. Many times we see secular values as incongruent with biblical values. Both arguments are valid.
However, the thrills and disappointments of good people seeking to do the right thing on the grand stage and the folly of evil that rises and is rebutted, remains a key component in the human process of politics.
It’s true that our sinful, fallen nature precludes the possibility of a perfect society in our time. Despite this my heart rings with joy when considering the passions of Martin Luther, William Wilberforce and Martin Luther King. Let’s not forget, of course, the greater operative of love: Jesus!
The Great One rebuffed the pincer movements of Satan and the Pharisees with grace and excellence. An excellence that makes the machinations of US TV drama series Game of Thrones look like the squabbles of children.
Whilst Jesus wasn’t a politician, He was the ultimate communicator. It wasn’t just that His message cut through to a great number of people. The key was the fact that it set the stage for the greatest seismic shift in human history. This change was God’s grace embodied in Jesus. Such greatness! A greatness that sets in train the strategic beauty of pure love.
Importantly, the next question relates to whether Christians should be involved in politics. Many would say yes and others no.
Ellen White placed competing answers to this question into starker contrast with the following words:
“Dear youth, what is the aim and purpose of your life? Are you ambitious for education that you may have a name and position in the world? Have you thoughts that you dare not express, that you may one day stand upon the summit of intellectual greatness; that you may sit in deliberative and legislative councils, and help to enact laws for the nation? There is nothing wrong in these aspirations. You may every one of you make your mark. You should be content with no mean attainments. Aim high, and spare no pains to reach the standard.
The fear of the Lord lies at the foundation of all true greatness. Integrity, unswerving integrity, is the principle that you need to carry with you into all the relations of life. Take your religion into your school-life, into your boarding-house, into all your pursuits. The important question with you now is, how to so choose and perfect your studies that you will maintain the solidity and purity of an untarnished Christian character, holding all temporal claims and interests in subjection to the higher claims of the gospel of Christ. You want now to build as you will be able to furnish, to so relate yourself to society and to life that you may answer the purpose of God in your creation” (Fundamentals of Christian Education, page 82).
Politics to me isn’t just a representation of the day-to-day banalities of human process. It’s actually an unquestionable battle of ideas with our hearts and minds being the ultimate battleground.
For me, God’s love isn’t just a revolution; it’s an act of social, political, economic and spiritual force that remains unmatched. Some would say this is an ambitious statement.
However, if we are serious about the transformative power of God’s grace in Christ Jesus, then social, political and economic change is critical in the spiritual transformation that shakes the world when people come to Christ. This is why I live in this space, seeking any opportunity to see and effect change in His service.
Whether left, right, centre, upside down or inside out, it doesn’t really matter. In the Spiritual Game of Thrones there is only one answer: Jesus, All! His is the greatest transformative command.
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).
Timothy Humphries writes from Brisbane, Queensland.