This afternoon a friend of mine challenged me to write something on politics. My first reaction was "NO!" because if you know me at all, you know that I am apolitical. I don't have much of an opinion on politics one way or the other, I generally don't like to talk about them (though after some practice, I can now hold a fairly simple conversation on the subject when necessary), I don't make an effort to be informed about them, I will probably find a way to change the topic when it is brought up, and on occasion I have been known to burst into tears when the subject is broached. What can I say? I don't understand it either.
So what changed my mind? When I opened up the bible for my daily reading, this is what it said:
"The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation. This is the way our Saviour God wants us to live." from 1 Timothy 2, The Message.
For whatever it is worth, here are my meagre thoughts regarding the arena of politics. Read them carefully...you might never hear anything on the topic from me again!
1. Pray first. I hear a lot of talk, way too much criticism, miles of speculation, and endless opinions. All of which, if I may offer my own humble opinion here, accomplish very little. I am not opposed to a good discussion - it can enlighten and challenge the participants - but don't let it stop there. Take action! You have heard it said that every vote makes a difference. Well, I would venture to say that every prayer makes an even bigger difference! See something you don't like in the government? Pray for change! Ask God what you can do about it. Think some leader is an idiot? Pray for him to get wisdom! If you have some great ideas, pass them onto someone who can do something about them. The world situation scares you? Pray for peace, and then be prepared to be a peacemaker. There is no change without sacrifice. Anyone can criticize or speculate. Few will pay the price to make a difference.
2. Be humble. What is it about politics that makes pompous asses out of people? Have we put so much pressure and responsibility on these offices of power that no one can admit they are humans and occasionally make a mistake? Does no one value sticking by the truth because it might cost them a re-election? Do policy changes inevitably go to the highest bidder or the biggest bully? These sound like the antics of 8 year-olds during recess. Sadly, it seems that those people of integrity who enter public office often fall prey to the corrupt power game. We must remember that it is not important that we LOOK good, it is important that we BE good and DO good. Be a person of integrity. Applaud and support the quality wherever you see it in someone else. Love the truth.
3. Love strangers. Most political discussions are spent talking about people we do not really know or have never met. It is easy to make decisions and judgment calls and form opinions when the people directly involved in the situation are not present. Politics affect human lives. Put yourself in someone else's shoes before you criticize a decision or make a suggestion that will affect others' lives. Don't require something of someone else that you are not willing to do yourself or at the very least, help them accomplish. The best leaders are willing to identify with those whose lives they have responsibility for. The best influencers have no need of a position to make themselves heard. Be someone people can trust. Let love be your chief motivation.
4. See the big picture. I admit I am not strong on this point - when I encounter groups of more than 4 or 5 people, I have a hard time focusing! There is no way I can take in the world situation! Thankfully, I have politically-aware friends that attempt to keep me informed and challenge me to see beyond my little world. But in some way, I do believe I get the biggest picture. God is ultimately in charge. He knows and sees every event in the world and will not have his purpose thwarted. He can change anything at anytime and by reason of some divine wisdom that I am not privy to, chooses not to interfere many times (perhaps it is because I do not ask). Everyone will answer for their deeds and/or lack of action - there will be ultimate justice. No earthly power is outside the rule of God; no tragedy beyond his reach. He is trustworthy...just wait and see.
And in conclusion, may I offer a few new phrases to throw into your next political debate:
It's just America (insert any political power here). It's only terrorism (war, conflict, instability, etc.). It is merely the economy (or any other resourse that is dwindling). It is but a world threatening situation (pick one). The most powerful being in the universe knows, cares, and is on it. And one thing he does is ask people like you and me to affect our circle of influence in a positive way...