Another day, another Prime Minister…

Posted by on Sep 15, 2015 in Blog | 1 comment

I was born in South Africa, am a New Zealand citizen, and live in Australia. Though living in the latter country for 12 years, its politics remain a mystery to me. On a day by day basis, life here is a little like paradise. Australia truly is a glorious country, with an indulgently comfortable standard of living. Yet we’ve  just changed our Prime Minister. Again. The 5th in 5 years. Being a schoolkid here has just got a whole lot more stressful. Who can possibly remember the names of all Australian Prime Ministers?

I was in two minds about writing on this.

Against writing is my concern that what follows will be seen as some kind of party political comment. And I really don’t want this to be that kind of blog. Equally practically, I don’t want to disrupt the flow of the ‘Why Believe’ series, or to distract from the earlier post from today, ‘Miracles, maths and mystery…‘ which I think says some important things. And third, I am conscious that a large numbers of readers of this blog are not from Australia, and might very well read this and think, ‘Whatever. Life sure is strange downunder.’

But the post is up, so obviously those concerns didn’t triumph. Christians are not just destined for another reality – we have to live constructively in present reality, and that is hugely impacted by the politics of our location. And no one steers those politics more than the Prime Minister. So when it comes to politics, what factors should most impact the thinking and decision making of Christian people? Heaps and heaps could be said about this, but I will keep it brief…

  1. Leadership matters. No question about this. Even a cursory glance through the Old Testament (aka Hebrew Bible) shows a clear link between godly leaders and the welfare of the people. Good leadership in the Bible is not about building a legacy for oneself, or expanding ones fame and fortune. It is about what happens to the people who follow your lead, the people you are called to serve. It is why in the Bible leaders are first of all called to be servant leaders, who shepherd the people and steward resources well. Those three S words – servant, shepherd and steward – are helpful in evaluating the strength of anyone’s leadership. Really good leaders meet two other S requirements. They are sages, whose wisdom provides solid guidance, and see’ers, able to sense where the future is heading and what needs to be done to optimise it. If you are interested, I have written a lot more about this in my book The Tortoise Usually Wins.
  2. We are blessed to bless. When Abraham is told that he has been chosen to found a great nation, he is also given a quick insight into the purpose behind Israel’s election. Through the Hebrew nation, all the nations of the world will be blessed (Genesis 12:3). Election in the Bible is not about privilege, but responsibility. Being one of the world’s wealthiest nations places a great responsibility upon us. We should not congratulate ourselves too quickly when we agree to take in a few thousand extra refugees, but should rather simply view it as business as usual. Nothing less should be expected from people so richly blessed – and probably a lot more should be forthcoming.
  3. Justice should be designed with the most vulnerable in mind. The Bible drips with repeated references to the needs of the poor, the widowed and orphaned. It suggests all kinds of schemes to ensure that their wellbeing is secured and their dignity preserved. One of the measures of a countries greatness is the care and protection it offers to the most vulnerable. They are often not in a position to advocate for their own cause, and might not even have a vote to cast. But God hears their cry, and we should to… Isaiah 58 should be obligatory reading for all political leaders – and actually, for you and me as well.
  4. Family matters. I wrote this in a sermon a few years ago, and think it remains true today:

It is impossible to overemphasize the importance that the Bible attaches to stable family life. In the Bible the family unit is always the first line of provision and protection. Unlike in Western countries, the family was viewed in its extended form. Single people, widows and the elderly were very much part of their extended family. So e.g. if a man died his brother had to offer to take his wife and children and make them a part of his family (e.g. Deut 25:5-6). The oldest male child was given a double portion of the family inheritance not as a sign of favoritism but to enable him to meet the additional financial responsibilities that came for the overseer of the extended family (e.g. Deut 21:15-17).

The fifth commandment (Ex 20:12) is interesting. It reads, “Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God will give you.” Being shaped by Western individualism, we tend to read that promise as given to individuals. But the Jews always thought collectively. In other words, they saw it not so much as a promise that if Joe Smith was good to his mother, Joe would live to be 93 (and clearly that couldn’t be the promise, as there have been many wonderful sons and daughters who have had short lives), but as, “If as a society you honor the role of parents and support them, then you will build the kind of society that will be strong and which will survive.” Through history it’s probably been one of the better kept commandments. But in the last 30 or 40 years the family has started to find itself under significant threat.

Good governments carefully evaluate how families fare under their watch, and actively evaluate legislation in the light of the support or burden it places upon family life.

  1. Creation matters. We usually use the E word here – care for the environment. I think it is better to think of the C word – Creation – as this raises the stakes significantly and helps us to view our responsibility from a ‘God aware’ perspective. This planet is God’s good creation. Genesis 1:26-30 and 2:19-20 inform us that it is our responsibility – our sacred trust – to rule over this world wisely, for it is God’s world, and ultimately we account back to God for how we utilise and care for it. We are to name ‘each living creature’- thereby valuing and treasuring them. Having named them, we must ensure that they do not disappear or become extinct or degraded under our watch. More than anyone else, Christians should be committed to creation care, and should hold government accountable for their policies about this.

Well, I could carry on at far greater length. But these 5 really matter. And it is also important that we pray for our leaders – be they Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard, Kevin Rudd, Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnball or whoever holds the post next Tuesday.

Nice chatting…

One Comment

  1. Nicely put Brian. Every time a political party manipulates the change of ousting a Prime Minister it immediately undermines their integrity. I once thought the Liberal Party was above that but I am sadly mistaken. Now another low day in Australia’s history and yet we should be so thankful for what the Lord has given us here. We need to pray for our all the members of our government today, this day…

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