The final article to appear in the March Tabletalk and the final one I read yesterday is this one by pastor David Robertson (see biographical information below). I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was pleasantly impressed with what Robertson wrote. Writing for the rubric “Beyond the Wicket Gate”, he begins by criticizing the way the church has often involved herself politically. But then, basing his thoughts on the call of I Tim.2:1-4, he shows how vital it is that the church use the means of prayer to address the needs of her political leaders and the needs of the church under these leaders.
I believe (based on my own limited experience and my own prayer life) that we are not following the charge of this Word of God very faithfully. We are quick to complain about the bad policies and wicked manueverings of evil men and women in government, but we are slow to bring these matters to the Lord. As God’s providence would have it, this morning’s devotional from the April issue of “TT” is based on Isaiah 37, where godly king Hezekiah takes the blasphemous letter of the Assyrian Rashekah, enters the temple, spreads the letter out before the Lord, and prays about it! I (we) need more of this attitude and action.
Here are a few of Robertson’s thoughts on this matter. You may read the full article at the Ligonier link above.
The church must be involved, but not in the way we so often have been. When the church seeks political power, the church inevitably ends up being corrupted. Creating or supporting particular political parties, policies, or philosophies is not the way of Christ. For the church to be identified with one political party is a sure-fire recipe for disaster.
Does that mean we are doomed to be pious pietists, huddling in our small groups as the world rots, just waiting for the Lord to return? God forbid. The Bible gives us very clear instructions on how we are to participate in the political process—instructions that, if we followed them today, would make an enormous difference to the politics and government of our countries. These instructions are found in 1 Timothy 2:1–4: “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness… (NIV).
…First, prayer is realistic because it recognizes our own weakness and causes us to humbly bow before God, conscious that we do not have the power to accomplish anything. With all our money, strategies, techniques, and human wisdom, there really is nothing we can do that will control or change the course of history. True prayer recognizes the sovereignty and agency of God. Prayer stops us relying on ourselves and thus stops the frustrations and panic when we and our political philosophies and strategies fail. It is important at this stage to note that prayer is not to be used as a political tool, as though by holding prayer meetings we are courting or forcing God’s vote. Prayer is not protest. It is petition, which realizes that even the hearts of President Obama or Prime Minister David Cameron are not out of God’s control. Proverbs 21:1 says: “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord. He directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases” (NLT).