The Good Book Company wants to tell Christians in the UK how to vote in Thursday’s General Election.
We think you should vote prayerfully. And with perspective.
There isn’t much on how to run a government in the Bible (though of course there are principles that should underlie good government). There isn’t anything at all on democracy (and the best kingdom, the one set up by Jesus, is not and will not be run democratically, thankfully). What there is is a reminder to pray:
“I urge then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Saviour…” (1 Timothy 2 v 1-2)
Perhaps you’ve got a good grasp of the fact that if God can control the casting of lots, he can certainly direct the marking of ballot papers (Proverbs 16 v 33). Perhaps you’ve been praying every day of this election season, both for the candidates and for the government that will (eventually!) be formed as a result of our votes.
I know I haven’t.
Perhaps when you do pray, your first thoughts turn to giving thanks for the freedom we do still have in this country to meet together, to speak of Christ, to live his ways; your second thoughts are to praying that the next government would maintain peace and freedom; and your third thoughts are to asking God to help you and your church to use this freedom to grow in godliness and holiness. Perhaps prosperity, school places for the kids, and tax cuts (the right ones—the ones that help you) are never on your prayer list.
I know that’s not me.
So however you feel about politics—whoever you’ll vote for—let’s be Christian about this. Let’s be voting prayerfully, and let’s be pleasing God with the contents of our prayers.
If Ed Miliband/David Cameron/Nicola Sturgeon/Nick Clegg are in Government come the end of March, the world won’t fall apart. Whoever ends up as Prime Minister—even if it’s not the one you voted for—they will lead a well-intentioned, flawed government. They will fulfil some of their pledges, and they will be frustrated—and frustrate us—in failing to carry out some of their other policies. They will mix high ideals with, at times, low conduct.
Of course they will. They’re human beings created in God’s image, and they’re fallen. Just like you and me. They are not the Saviour (when he comes, he won't be standing for election), and they are not the Enemy.
So let’s vote with perspective. It’s important. Who rules us matters. But they won’t fix everything, they won’t get everything right; and they won’t wreck everything, they won’t be an utter disaster. Let’s aim to think the best of them, to speak positively about them, and to pray diligently for them. If Daniel could love and serve and pray for a man who chucked his friends into a fiery furnace for their faith, then you and I can love and serve and pray for people who chuck too much/too little money at the rich/poor. If Daniel could be a blessing in Babylon, remaining godly while contributing his gifts to the state, then we can do so in the UK. As David Helm puts it in the recently-released Daniel For You:
"If you are serious about being a follower of Christ you will be one who is committed to … purity that does not withdraw; that is, we need to learn to keep ourselves clean… in this world. It is where we are called to live, and where we are called to be a blessing and to preach the gospel."
And let’s remember that the election results, and the machinations afterwards, will not be any surprise to God, since he has already ordained it. Who rules the UK? God does. So the election will not be a setback for his people, since “we know [don’t we?] that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8 v 28). And it will not deflect the grand plan of our Creator, “to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ” (Ephesians 1 v 10). Our next Prime Minister will not build heaven on earth, neither will they prevent heaven one day coming to earth.
In a sense, how we vote (or don’t) matters far more than who we vote for. God is not pleased by prayerless voting, nor one that forgets who's ultimately in charge, who is our only Saviour, and where history is heading. Whether you’re a paid-up party member, or an undecided floating voter, remember how a Christian votes: prayerfully, and with perspective.
Coming up on Wednesday: Letting the cross of Calvary direct your cross on the ballot paper