The current crisis of democracy in Pakistan is a vivid reminder to all Australians to give thanks to God for the political and social stability that we enjoy here in Australia, and to be praying for countries in strife. Our affluence and openness to the expression of various views is the envy of many countries around the world. In the context of peace and stability and a resources boom Australia enjoys a growing economy. That is why the political leaders can make so many financial commitments as they seek to lead the Federal Government after the elections next Saturday. It is hard for many people to comprehend the amounts of money that have already been given out in various projects, let alone the commitments that have been made on both sides. The value of the Coalition’s promises amount to $65 billion, the size of Vietnam’s economy.1 Labor’s promises add up to $56.5 billion, the size of Libya’s economy2. As we know, there may be some doubt about which promises are core promises and which ones will take a long time to be granted, if ever.
The key question for the Christian is this: How should I decide how to cast my vote? The privilege of voting is also our responsibility. What should be the determining factors that help us decide how to make the most of our democratic rights? It is certainly not good enough to say: “I am not going to vote for any politician, it only encourages them.” It is too easy to slam our political leaders when we focus on those who make the glaring mistakes. Our decisions should not be based on the natural selfishness that seems to be the appeal of so many promises.
Our challenge is to look to the scriptures, to see what God expects from all governments and from all political systems. Firstly there is the need for justice. In the Bible this covers at least three areas: the honesty and integrity of the rulers (Proverbs 29:4), a fair and equitable distribution of wealth and resources, especially to the poor and disadvantaged (Amos 5) and the just punishment for the wrongdoer (Romans 13).
Secondly, we are encouraged to pray that our political leaders will create a society that provides the opportunity for people to “lead peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (1 Timothy 2:1-2).
What this means in practice is that we will often be asking questions that the politicians and the media are not answering. We need to look beyond the materialism that is meant to appeal to our selfish nature, and think through the issues about what is good for all the needs of the whole nation. Then, having prayed about it, we can cast our vote, in what some people feel is an important election.
But there are two other elections that we might also give our minds to, at this time.
There is the ongoing need to ask people to decide about the Lord Jesus. Will they vote for him to be their personal rescuer and ruler? No-one has to wait for a special election day to be called. Any day, even today, is a good day to vote one for Jesus. To vote any other way would be a disaster.
Finally, there is the biblical idea that God votes for us. God chooses us to be his people, his elect. Those of us who have come to put our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of our sins and the promise of eternal life, have been given the grace of God by his election of us. On this basis we are called to press on in the faith with determination and confidence. “Therefore my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:10-11 NIV)
1 Peter Hartcher p17 SMH 16.11.07
2 Peter Hartcher p17 SMH 16.11.07