In my letter last month I outlined the fact that I want our AGM this year to be focussed on developing a vision for us as a church. Please continue to pray to that end, but before that every citizen of the UK will have the right and the responsibility to contribute to the election of our next government. It is being said that it is the most difficult election to predict in decades, so how to vote will not be simple. For many of us we find it difficult to try to distinguish between the different parties and if we are honest we fear that there is no one party that is taking a clear Christian position on issues. Some might also argue that it is God who raises up governments (Dan 2:21; Rom 13:1). That is true, but He is able to do that using His people.
Throughout history God has used governments opposed to Himself to fulfil His purposes, e.g. Egypt in the days of Joseph and Moses; The Philistines in the days of Saul and David; Babylon in the days of Daniel, as well as Rome in the days of Jesus and Paul. Remember Proverbs 16:7 says “When a man’s ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.”
How then, do we approach this election?
To begin with we must go to Scripture. The Bible nowhere tells for whom we should vote and as a trustee within a charity I cannot tell you how to vote, but the Bible does lay down principles. I want to look at two New Testament passages, Rom 13 and 1 Tim 2.
See firstly, 1 Tim 2:1,2 –
“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.”
Here we see that Governments are to be supported by the prayers of God’s people. I would suggest that it can also be argued that appointing governments should be approached in prayer. Notice that Paul doesn’t simply say ‘Pray for the Emperor and other leaders’. He does the same as he does in Eph 6 where his primary concern is coping with spiritual warfare. There he seems to fall over himself using different words for prayer. He writes,
“praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints”
He uses two separate words “prayer” and “supplication”, but he couples them with “keeping alert” and “perseverance”. Prayer is not an insignificant event in our concern for government.
In writing to Timothy he uses even more words for prayer – “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings.” Do not miss this last point ‘Thanksgiving’. We are to have a thankful spirit, because we know that our sovereign God IS working HIS purpose out in every area of life. The three other words each bring a separate emphasis in prayer. There is prayer as our spiritual discipline before God, but there is also that desire that God would supply what is needed and finally there is that recognition that we need God to intervene on our behalf. We pray that God would intervene in our churches for Revival, similarly we need to pray that He would intervene in government for ‘peaceful, quiet, godly and dignified lives’ (1 Tim 2:2)
Romans 13:1,2 tell us that proper governments are those who govern for the good of others. We need a government that will be clearly committed to caring for the whole of society.
If we do nothing else in preparing for this election we must give it serious prayer, individually and together as a church. We must be concerned that God will raise up those who will give peace in our time, so that we might have freedom to declare the Gospel and live as salt and light in our nation. It is not the purpose of the government to preach the Gospel, but it can provide a culture that enables freedom for Gospel living.
We must also exercise our democratic right and responsibility, i.e. we must vote.
May God help all of us to be given all needed grace and wisdom on 7th May.
Bernard Lewis May 2015