04 Jul Beware Of Turning Political
Now, it is election time in Singapore. And I believe as politicians present their manifesto, campaign fiercely to put their opponents down, people are being drawn into all kinds of emotions. I mean somehow this is what democracy has done to us. Now, just as election fever sweep through our nation, I am concerned that we Christians might have turn political, or lose our mind over to our emotions. So I would just like to give a short devotion today to bring all our concerns back to the instructions of God, when the world around us seems to be drawn into political issues.
Let’s turn to <1 Peter 2:13-17> Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.
Now, the first phrase that caught me here is that: Every authority on earth is instituted by God. Whether your government is a liberalist, a capitalist, a socialist, or even communist. I mean be clear, that authority is instituted by God. God put it there to fulfill a purpose, God can also remove it at his disposal, in His time, in His way. So what do you do as a faithful Christian? The simple answer to that is: Submit to that authority for the Lord’s sake. Now, it is noteworthy to know that Peter wrote this in the days of the Roman Empire, which was not a democracy and no special friend to Christians. Yet he still recognized the legitimate authority of the Roman government. So Christians, let’s be clear. Don’t lose our head about God’s instruction when political or social issues arises. You may feel something very strongly about some policies that hit you, or some unfair systems. Now, know that God is above that. Ok? When God institutes an authority, his way is fairer, his foresight is greater.
Now, the next thing to note here is: Governors are sent by God to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.
Now, I notice people living in this Era has a lot of demands about good governance. They demand a good life, they demand to be cared for, they demand prosperity, they demand liberal rights, and the list goes on. People’s needs are never satisfied. Now, I am not against a good and wise government in this sense. But if you look at the bible, there is only one simple requirement of God for good governance. i.e. to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. Now, there is no perfect or super government, but when God institute one, it is meant for punishing those who do wrong – who commit crimes, break the law and harm others, so that the society can be kept safe and peaceful. This is the first and foremost. And next, it has to commend those who do good. It has to be fair in a sense that all who does good (to society, to people), must be commended or even rewarded, not only those who serves their purpose. Now, as long a government can fulfill these two requirements, it is a good, fair and just government, by the standards of the Bible. There is no need for fanciful or over-promised government. So let’s pray for our government in this sense. And submit to the government which God has instituted, even though it may have relatively fallen short of God’s perfect standard. Why?Because <Verse 15> says: For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people.
Now, let me say that there are always foolish people who wants to find fault with us. Especially now if you look at the internet vigilantes, they post subjective comments, they take pictures and try to police everyone, as if they are the law. They can criticize anyone as long as they feel like it, including the Christian communities. So although as Christians, we are called to be free, but for the sake of not giving a bad name to Christianity, we should be mindful to live as submissive people. Honestly, it’s not ideal to be joining riots and demonstration, and as a result be classified as one with those who carry out violent protest. It’s not good to be too political on the internet or taking side with whatever party. Of course, we could have our own political views, but bear in mind that nothing is worth all your focus and strength other than the gospel. Because only the gospel is the salvation of all mankind, not the government, not whichever parties that form the government. So direct all your energies to advance the gospel of God, and to witness Christ.
So I am going to end with verse 17: “Show proper respect to everyone; Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king”.
So my brethren, four things right here, as a citizens living in this society.
First, show proper respect to everyone. Do not look down on people. Do not demean anyone because of their lower status. Or sometimes, people can be rude to you, or they could be unreasonable. Nonetheless, show respect out of obedience to Christ. Do not return an insult for an insult.
Second, love the brotherhood of believers. Now Jesus said that the world around us would know we are His disciples by our love for one another. Remember, we are not commanded by the Lord to get into political divide with our brethren. Rather, we are commanded to love them, and if need to, carry their burdens. Therefore, do not let the election fever steal your love away for your brethren.
Third, fear God. Now Christians, fear God not because you are terrified of God but because you love Him. And you fear Him because HE is the only sovereign one and who does all things right. He is the one who institutes authority and removes authority. And at every election, I really pray for Christian politicians to fear God, instead of being carried away by the interest of garnering votes and as a result lose their character.
Lastly, honor the king. Now sometimes the king may not be a honorable person, yet honor him, the Bible says. During Peter’s time, the king was Nero, an evil leader who persecuted the people of God. Yet I thank God for Peter who said that. It shows that we Christians believe in the absolute goodness and sovereignty of God. We harbor no hatred and bitterness towards the injustice ruling of this world. Rather, as free and honorable people of God, we submit to the authorities and we pray for them. And of course, we pray for more honorable Christians to rise up in the political scene, to govern wisely, justly and courageously.