Not so very long ago I watched the politics of the UK with a vague and disinterested detachment. Some Christians are like this; we profess such a confidence in God’s guidance that “all things will work together for the best”, that we can ignore what goes on around us and get on with our lives without complaining. And in a lot of ways this is OK. We have nothing ultimately to fear from the laws our parliaments pass: “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul”, or from the fiscal policies that our governments contrive: “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will.” Matthew 10:28-29.
I have recently had a renaissance [as in a new growth of activity or interest in something] – you can blame Brexit and a national general election all in the space of 12 months for that. My thoughts over many years have been along the lines of: Haven’t I enough to worry about, and think, and do, and plan without concerning myself with what the politicians are saying and doing? And what if I vote for the “wrong” party? And what does my little vote matter anyway? But perhaps my detachment was a form of laziness. I now think that I must give myself a shake …
But I’m not necessarily talking about voting.
I’m not so sure God particularly needs me to vote. There is something much more important He wants me to do. Well, two things really – and they are linked.
He wants me to be aware of what is going on around me. Disciples do not live in a social vacuum. We have mortgages, we pay taxes, we abide by local planning laws, we get involved in our local schools – there is no need for us to hide away and ignore the rest of society. We don’t have to do everything that society does, or think what society thinks, or conform to all our society’s way of life; but we are here in the real world. So, if I am aware of what is going on around me locally, nationally and globally, then God has a task for me. Which brings me to the second thing God wants me to do:
Who can protect our country better than the godly?
Who can protect our country? Who can ensure that our country is not “destroyed?”
A new government with new laws?
Bigger armed forces with bigger weapons?
No – the God-fearing with their prayers.
Abraham stood before the Lord and pleaded for the safety of Sodom just in case there were righteous people living there: “Would You also destroy the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous that were in it?” Genesis 18:11. God agreed to spare the city for 50 righteous, then for 45, then for 40, then 30, then 20, then 10. God allowed Abraham to intercede for the city and He entered into a dialogue with him because Abraham cared, and because he was also God-fearing. You could say that God encouraged Abraham to bargain with Him for the people of Sodom by revealing to him what He planned to do. Abraham didn’t respond by saying “OK, You are God so whatever You say must be right. Go ahead. It’s sad, but I can see it’s necessary …”
Abraham had lived in Sodom and he had relatives there. He knew what sort of society it was, but he hoped that maybe there were a few righteous people somewhere that could save the whole of the population, even if it was ungodly.
And he cared. So, he prayed.
His prayer was successful in that God listened to Him and altered the stakes. Sodom was only destroyed because there were not even 10 righteous people in it. Because God altered the stakes it shows just how much God values the righteous, but it also shows us how much He values the prayers of the righteous. (James 5:16)
Ultimately, I am responsible for just me; for what I think, say and do, and for what I care about. I am not going to campaign for higher wages or attend protest marches about taxation, because God has very clear guidelines about what He expects from the God-fearing and this is a far more profitable use of my time:
“Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.” 1 Timothy 2:1-4.
If I am obedient to God’s Word then I do not need to stress about upcoming elections; if I vote, I can vote prayerfully with my country’s needs on my heart and be at rest. I do not need to be anxious about whether socialists or capitalists or liberals get a majority; I do not have to agonise over tactical voting because, if I bear in mind Romans 13:1, “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God”, then it’s true what I heard recently:
“My prayer is more powerful than my vote.”