For the last few weeks, Dave and I have been watching the election race with interest. With all the leadership changes over the past few years, it makes the election race confusing and policies more important. Yet, I still find that my voting on Saturday may come down to the leader I find the most trustworthy and based on their track record, trusting politicians seems tenuous. In all of the campaigning over the past few weeks, what has struck me most is our culture of disrespect. Journalists speak to the leaders of our nation with comments dripping with disrespect and arrogance, the public hold placards and tear down our leaders and the very advertising used to highlight policy one minute, seeks to drag down any opposing leader in nasty smear campaigns the next. And we cheer on their efforts. In the midst of an Aussie culture that loves the underdog, how often do we forget to show respect to the leaders that have been placed over us? How often do our voices join in with the masses, tearing each other down? How often do we stop to prayer for our leaders and thank them for the job they are doing and have done?
As I ask myself these questions, my mind turns to God and I wonder how He views it all? What light does His word have to shed on my path as I walk the path towards the election on Saturday?
In 1 Thessalonians chapter 4, we find Paul addressing questions posed by the church of Thessalonica on how they should live. They were concerned with when Jesus would return and wanted to know what they should be doing in the interim. As people expectantly waiting for the Ultimate leader to return, they wanted to know what they should do in the now.
To answer, Paul exhorts in 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12:
Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. 2 For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. 3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, 5 not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. 7 For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness.8 Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.
9 Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, 10 for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, 11 and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, 12 so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.
Here, we read that we, like the Thessalonians, are to live and walk in a way pleasing to God; controlling our bodies in holiness and honour. We are exhorted not to wrong our brother because one day, the Lord will avenge all things. We are called to holiness and love. We are also called to “live quietly, and to mind [our] own affairs, and to work with [our] hands… so that [we] may walk properly before outsiders” (v. 11).
In Romans, Paul urges the Roman church to be submitted to authorities: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.” (Romans 13:1-2). We can be confident that God places all authorities in their place, appointing them to the role they have. As we live in quietness (1 Thess 4:11), we are to live as subjects under the rulers in place. While we are never to idolise our leaders, or blindly follow them, particularly if they encourage us to go against the word of God, like in the case of Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego (Daniel 3), we can express our beliefs with respect and love.
Above all, we are to keep in mind that the Day of the Lord is approaching. One day, Jesus will return and we must be ready. As we work in the now, we must not forget our future. One day, budgets and policy will fade into insignificance, brilliantly overshadowed by the beauty of the reality of Jesus- our leader returned. In the meantime, there is a world of lost people who need to know of Him. They need to hear our voice and message of the Gospel over our stance on homosexuality or Coal Seam Gas and when they think of us, the fact we passionately follow Jesus in grace and truth must be what speaks out from us the loudest.
May we pray for our leaders and may we vote for the leader who will best help us keep eternity in our minds and the Gospel in our mouths.