Our parents taught most of us never to discuss politics or religion at a dinner party. However, nowadays these two topics seem to crop up almost every time two or more people meet. As I write this, the leadership battle for the ANC, and hence the country, is in full swing. The more acrimonious it gets, and the closer the elections become, the more Christians want to know how to respond. Here are some thoughts.
Firstly, we can and should be praying for our political leaders. Paul writes that ‘…requests, prayers , intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness’ (1 Timothy 2:1-2). As a nation, we have removed God from our constitution and so I have great difficulty asking the Lord to bless our country. However, I have liberty in praying for our key leaders, asking God to give them wisdom and a determination to do what is right.
Secondly, we should be good citizens. Jesus taught that we should ‘give to Caesar what is Caesar’s’ (Matthew 22:21). Paul and Peter elaborated upon this, instructing us to submit to governing authorities and to be ready to do whatever is good (Romans 13:1, Titus 3:1, and 1 Peter 2:13). This includes paying our taxes and obeying traffic regulations!
We have dual citizenship of Heaven and South Africa. If we are to validate the former then we need to be exemplary citizens of the latter.
Thirdly, we need to vote. Abstaining is seldom a valid option. But, for whom do we vote? The voting process does not allow us to vote for individuals so we have to vote for parties. Dear oh dear. My advice is to pray, research, and then vote… but vote, don’t abstain. Whatever your reasons are for supporting a particular party, just ensure that you base them on a desire to be true to God’s character and the injunctions of scripture.
Fourthly, we should voice our support and our censure. If something is wrong then we should write to whoever is influential and voice our concerns. If we can, we should offer constructive and biblical alternatives. When somebody does something right we should also write to them, or their superiors, or the press, and affirm them. Most of us feel that it is our duty to catch someone doing something wrong. But, what about trying to catch someone doing something right? The power of a ‘blessing’ is far greater than the power of a ‘curse’.