Christianity and Politics

... Where lies the boundary?

THE IDEAL CHRISTIAN POLITICIAN

   The Bible is like a manufacturer’s manual, with God the maker of heavens and the earth telling us how to run our lives and how to fix it when things go wrong, as they sometimes do. Our text (Deuteronomy 17:14-20) is pragmatic about the minimum qualifications that a political leader should possess, most especially if he or she is a Christian. Some of these attributes are:

Unconditional Love for God:- The man God will choose to lead His people must of necessity be passionate about his love for God. Verse 15a says, ‘thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the LORD thy God shall choose’. To be God’s choice you must be His favourite, except if God wants to punish you and the people! To be His favourite you must exhibit unconditional love for Him. No wonder Job said though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him. (Job 13:15). Also, David, one of God’s favourite kings said, as the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God? (Psalms 42:1-2).

Referential Fear of God:- A political leader must fear God a great deal, perhaps more than any other minister of God. This is mainly because the contending forces are more in the midst of a mixed multitude within which a Christian politician has to operate. Without genuine fear of God the tendency to compromise God’s standard and instructions become very high. The level of the fear of God at which a Christian politician operates must be far higher than the love for the praise and the approval of men, the lucre of office and riches, and all forms of lusts. God emphasized this in Deut 17: 18 and 19: 17 Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold. 18 And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, then he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites: 19 And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them: Saul’s major undoing as a King in Israel was the less than satisfactory level of the fear of God in him, and his crave for popularity with men, whereas, the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. 

A Teachable and Obedient Servant of God:- A Christian politician must be ready to learn from many sources and must obey God, His true Clergies, more experienced people, constituted authorities and the constitution of the land (for as long as the constitution is not against the Word of God). God instructed that His word And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them – Duet 17:19 No one can go far with the Lord with partial obedience, let alone total disobedience. The consequences of dishonouring God in the presence of a mixed multitude are higher than when it is among the saints. While the saints will still reference God in their heart and accept that the error is human, the mixed multitude will directly accuse God and lightly esteem Him more than the believer that made the mistake. This was the real problem with the error committed by Moses, which prevented him from getting to the Promised Land and the abominable act of David, both of which attracted such an unbelievable quantum of God’s wrath. In 2 Samuel 12: 7 - 14, God sent Nathan to David: ‘And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man. Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee out of the hand of Saul; 8 And I gave thee thy master's house, and thy master's wives into thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things. 9 Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in his sight? thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon. 10 Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife. 11 Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbour, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun. 12 For thou didst it secretly: but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun. 13 And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD. And Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die. 14 Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die.

 

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Knowledgeable and Visionary:- The Ideal Christian politician should of necessity not be a stranger (Deut 17:15b), both spiritually and physically. The vision to be pursued must be clear to him and he must have knowledge of how to achieve it. He must understand that the ultimate desire of God and His paramount reason for creating man is for fellowship and worship and must above all things create an enabling environment to freely achieve this goal. In doing this, he must be meticulous to strike a balance, so as to ensure that the freedom does not degenerate to wantonness, as in places where men are marrying men and women getting married to women. If such unholy trend is not immediately arrested by intercessors in such lands, very soon, their national constitution will legalize marriage between man and animal! In addition to spiritual knowledge and vision, he must have sound physical knowledge of how to better the lot of the people, to avoid gruesome pains and affliction. Being a lover of God and having the fear of God does not automatically translate to good governance. A leader must be trained by circumstances often arranged by God Himself to ensure adequate physical preparation that is able to produce result. This situation often reflects even in pure Christian ministries under similar situations but different leadership. An honest and righteous minister of God may not understand issues of welfare, even those that concerns himself or herself, let alone taking care of others.

Not a lover of riches:- This instruction is well spelt out in Deut 17 Verses 16a and 17b; ‘but he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses… neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold.’ Riches are deceitful (Matthew 13:22; Mark 9:14) and the verses above are intended to establish the fact that there is a correlation between riches and ‘Egypt’ (sin) and only a thin dividing line exists between a clean desire to be rich and the love of money! Depending on the size and type of the people being led, among other things, leaders are generally well off financially. However, leaders are not supposed to have an insatiable propensity to acquire wealth. The dangers are many; ranging from the tendency to use or misuse the instrument of leadership to cheat others and acquire filthy riches to the dangers of becoming untouchable because of the concentration of two most powerful instruments of influence in one person – financial power and political power!

Must hate sin:- There is a huge difference between struggling to avoid sin and outright hatred for sin. While the former may eventually be cornered and will give ‘genuine’ excuses for compromise, like Adam and King Saul, the latter will stand his ground even at the risk of his life and comfort, like Joseph and Daniel. A Christian politician must hate sin because there will be too many ‘genuine reasons’ for compromise in the political terrain. One compromise is more than enough to derail the destiny of a whole nation! Every effort must be put in place to ensure there is no leading back to Egypt. Righteousness exalts a nation, but, sin is a reproach to any people (Proverbs 14:34) Advert Sacrificial living:- A Christian politician must be ready to sacrifice his substance, time, intellect, comfort, etc, more than the call of duty. As at the time men were permitted to marry more than one wife, God forbade Kings from doing so. Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away (Deuteronomy 17: 17a). So it is expedient that he does not excessively indulge himself even in such common habits as eating, drinking, socializing, etc. He must go the extra mile without expecting thank you from any man; more often than not he will even be berated and wrongly accused after sacrificing more than everyone else. Leadership is certainly a burden, but it is such a glorious and desirable burden that whoever God calls into it should be eternally grateful.

Addicted to the Word of God and Prayer:- The entire life of a Christian politician must be governed by the Word of God. He must as a matter of obligation be a prayer champion because the forces against him are intimidating. Deut 17: 18 -19 says: 18 And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, then he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites: 19 And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them: 18 And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, then he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites: 19 And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them: ’. Though the prayers of spiritual leaders are of immense benefit and highly desirable, it is not acceptable to ‘hire’ people to pray or rely solely or almost entirely on the prayer of others. Note that verse 18 above compels the king to write the law of the Lord by himself, and he must read it all the days of his life. Without prayers and constant meditation in the Word of God, it is only a matter of time before the weapons of the enemy begins to prosper in the life of a leader, and indeed in the life of any Christian. The wise counsel of the scripture is for children of God to pray without ceasing.

True humility:- True humility is not about bowing down the head or refusing to take hard decisions beneficial to the society, just because you don’t want to offend anyone. True humility is demonstrated when you acknowledge you can’t do a thing successfully without God (even something as little as lifting up your finger!) and that but for the mercy and grace of God you are not better than anyone else. You then govern your thought, word and action in the realization of these all the time. God instructed in the beginning of Deut. 17:20 concerning the king; ‘That his heart be not lifted up above his brethren,...’ No platform offers the cunning bait of pride to any man than riches and power combined. Most assuredly, without true humility, a ‘Christian’ leader, like every other proud person will end up in the bosom of his father – the Devil.

Planted under a trusted spiritual authority:- The role of Priests and Levites (Pastors, Prophets etc) are so important that they have no substitute. To refuse to stay under a spiritual authority is to begin to invite catastrophe from the beginning of your journey. The king that most understood the ways of God and who found the richest favour as well as commanded the best testimony ever from the Almighty God Himself in the Bible was David, yet, he had a Prophet over him, in the person of Nathan. David was so favoured that he went to the Synagogue, took the altar bread and ate it with his aides, yet, God did not reprimand him for it. David hears from God directly. In fact, if anyone should be tempted to say hath God not spoken also by us?’, like Miriam and Aaron told Moses, it should be David. The walk with God is not all about our personal sacrifices. It has a lot to do with God’s call and His unique grace given to ‘The Called’ to operate in that office. This is why God gave specific directive as to where the King has to copy the law, in spite of the fact that the book of the law can be gotten elsewhere: ‘And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites’ – Deut. 17:18. Aside of trying to keep the political leaders humble by the above arrangement, the wisdom in God’s directive is that it keeps the political leader under a strong cover, against the myriads of weapons from the gate of hell, which must definitely come. Even among the genuine children of God, many do not understand that the yoke that will take thirteen years of agonizing prayers for one Christian to break may take only thirteen minutes of worship without a command or even a request for a matured Christian who is particularly called to operate in that ministry. A Christian politician must be planted in a specific Church, rather than junketing from one Church to the other, most of the time to avoid responsibilities, especially monetary commitments in the local Parish or denomination. It should however be mentioned as a conclusion here that a political leader must carefully and prayerfully consider the spiritual leader to submit to. This also is both a spiritual and physical exercise. While ungodly spiritual cover will spell outright doom, a weak spiritual cover will make the journey burdensome, unpleasant and unfulfilling and oftentimes with much damage to anything the adversaries could lay their hands upon, including the glory of God!