Acts 5:29 Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings!”
Titus 3:1 Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities…
Should a Christian become involved in politics in our country? The reasons Tim Farron gave recently for his resignation as leader of the Liberal Democrats highlight the difficulties and personal conflicts that can be encountered. Our faith has red lines that are being violated in a society that is abandoning many of the principles that founded it. God is increasingly being marginalised and considered irrelevant in the UK today. After all, He’s not “politically correct” is He? But back to the question – can a Christian, in all good conscience, get involved in our political system, in any capacity? If I was elected as an MP, for example, do I represent the views of my constituents, those who elected me, even if those views crossed one of my “red lines”? Or do I follow the party “whip” and do as I am told by my political masters? Or do I stick to my beliefs, come what may? Questions that really are difficult to answer in any meaningful way, without discussing different examples and scenarios. I’ve also come across some people, Christians even, who refuse to vote in an election, for various reasons. But my opinion, for what it’s worth, is that each Christian has a responsibility, regarding politics and our method of civil government, to seek God and be obedient to what He is saying, as supported by His Word, and that we should pray continually for those who lead us. So I will continue to vote for the politicians who are closest to what I believe, and will not try and be an MP (too much hassle anyway 🙂).
But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.
A raptor, recently photographed soaring above the West-facing cliffs at Port Bàn. Effortlessly setting its wings to keep it apparently suspended in mid-air, adjusting them to compensate for the vagaries of updrafts and gusts. Eyes keenly picking out its next meal amongst the West Scotland fauna. God has so wonderfully provided for this creature. It doesn’t need to wonder about its capabilities. It doesn’t worry about its next meal. It gets on with its life, soaring its way through all it encounters. An implicit trust in its Creator is built in to this magnificent creature. But we are different. We have a choice. We can make our way through life, wandering and worrying, downtrodden by the life encounters we experience. Or we can take a lesson from our resident raptor, trusting in our Divine Creator, and finding new resources as we soar above our circumstances, setting our spiritual wings to benefit from the winds of the Spirit, so freely poured out for us all. A lesson for me today – I can so easily find that my joy is crowded out by world events, life’s encounters and circumstances in general. I expect you do as well. So if we find that we are oppressed by the injustices of life, let’s read these verses in Isaiah 40. And keep reading them until we feel the wind of the Holy Spirit start to ruffle our feathers, lift our wings, and before we know it, we will be up there with the raptor!
Let me all Thy love accepting
Love Thee, ever all my days;
Let me seek Thy kingdom only
And my life be to Thy praise.
The first half of verse 3 of the old hymn – “Here is love, vast as the ocean”, lyrics written by two “Williams” (William Rees and William Williams) in the 19th century, and chorus added by Matt Redman in more recent times, suddenly opened up to me anew last Sunday at church. The hymn so succinctly sets out God’s love for me; but the revelation contained in these few lines, confirming how far reaching my response must continue to be, in terms of reciprocal love and praise, not as a ‘one-off’ but as a lifestyle, became a redefining moment. But that wasn’t all. The third line, ‘Let me seek thy kingdom only’, is very topical in this time of political and governmental instability. How easy it is to get caught up by current events when in fact I should be focusing first on God’s kingdom, which is stable, constant, loving, perfect, without end. No elections. No democracy. No undeliverable manifestos. No partisanship. Just perfect, eternal, secure government, administered by a Heavenly Father Who knows exactly what is best for each one of us. From that perspective I can seek God and pray that His Kingdom will come, and His will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven, being secure in my status as a child of God and citizen of Heaven.
Isaiah 55:12 . You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before You, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.
I love this time of year. In the woods around where I live, the vegetation seems to have exploded in recent weeks, into a verdant profusion of leafy growth, and as a backdrop the birdsong resonates with a cacophony of melodic noise, as though cheering on what is happening. The trees are mainly deciduous, and the broad-leaf varieties have positioned their leaves at just the right angle, designed to get a glimpse of the heavens. All the new growth seems to be doing its utmost , striving to reach into the heavens to suck in every ray of light, succeeding so effectively that at ground level it seems quite dark and gloomy. But even here the smaller grasses and plants are growing quickly and there are even small flowers breathtakingly beautiful in their colours and form, mopping up any stray light that happens to break through the canopy above. What an example of praise, extravagant praise to our Creator! What an example for us to follow. The message from the plant kingdom seems to be that extravagant praise maximises growth and releases the potential in every single organism. Would that be true for us as well?
Habakkuk 3:17-18. Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Saviour. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to tread on the heights.
Disappointment. A common experience. Can be debilitating. Can lead to depression. But it happens to us all the time; it’s a part of life, and always has been. We have all experienced disappointing situations; perhaps we didn’t get the marks in an exam that we hoped for. Or we failed the driving test for the third time, or we arrived on holiday to find the beach in the brochure was now a building site. Or someone promised to do something for us, but they forgot. But in the end, it’s how we handle disappointment that matters.
After the recent election, there are quite a few politicians, no doubt, who are having to deal with disappointment. For a variety of reasons. But in their shoes, how would I react? Would I feel sorry for myself? Or would I get angry, looking for something or someone to blame? Or would I try to rationalise the disappointment, concocting answers and explanations to make me feel better? Or would I ….?
But Habakkuk tells me how I should approach disappointment – seeing beyond it because of my relationship with God, because He believes in me, because in Him I have a future, giving me an opportunity to see beyond the circumstances and then rejoice regardless. How? By reminding me that when I look to God I will get a different perspective. A right perspective. A resourced perspective. A Heavenly perspective.
O God! Please forgive us all for dwelling on a dis-appointment, when a Divine appointment is always available!
John 3:16-17. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
How would Jesus minister in today’s society? What would He do in 21st Century Britain? Imagine it – no mangers in stables in this day and age but would He have been born in a rented flat to a young couple on benefits in Easterhouse? Or Lochgelly? But whatever His origins, would His ministry be any different? Personally, I don’t think so. He would still bring God’s core message. He would still fulfil the prophecy about Himself in Isaiah 61:1-2. His words and message would still upset the religious in our society. And probably the politicians as well! His parables and presence would bring misunderstanding; He would still be abused by those He loved. But here’s the thing – human nature has not changed from the days of Adam right through to today, because sin abounds. Jesus came to save the world, whatever the date, generation and culture. He would still bring salvation and redemption from sin. He would still heal the sick, raise the dead, set the captives free, and all with compassion for those in need.
As Christ’s disciples, as Christians, we have the ministry of fulfilling His legacy, bringing hope and love to a world oppressed by evil, confronting sin and making disciples. Let’s look for opportunities that will enable us to reveal Jesus to someone, showing His compassion and giving them His message of hope and love; bringing His light to overcome the enemy’s darkness and excesses.