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HomeWeekend SpecialBelievers and Governance: Why Christians in politics need to make a difference,...

Believers and Governance: Why Christians in politics need to make a difference, please God

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By Oludare Mayowa

In our culture, people generally view politics as a dirty game played by people without any modicum of integrity. Many regarded serving in government as an opportunity to have access to the commonwealth for personal gain.

With such a tainted notion of politics and governance, genuine believers have been discouraged from taking part in politics, while some outright reject the call to serve in public office in order to preserve their spiritual sanctity.

These are people who would have made a meaningful impact in our society through active participation and involvement in leadership positions in government because they possess the competence and the right character to do the right thing.

Without doubt, politics in our nation seems to have conformed to the generalized notion that the game is played by the dubious and people without character and integrity.

Those who hold such assertions are not without their reasons for coming to such a conclusion, but such a position must first be subjected to proper scrutiny and dissection in order to understand the why for coming to such a conclusion and its implications for the development of the country.

From the available evidence around us, it could be said that politics in Nigeria and other parts of the world have taken on the character of filthiness as morality and integrity have become secondary to many politicians.

Government policies are often influenced by either ethnic consideration, an inordinate desire to perpetuate oneself, a desire for personal gain, or self-aggrandisements.

The immediate past president of the United States, Donald Trump, is a good example of what a believer in government should not be, even though he claimed to be one. From all his actions and utterances while he was in government, it was obvious he was not what he claimed to be.

The same can be seen in those who are serving in government in our own country and who also claim to be Christians. Many of their actions and utterances contradict the faith they claimed to profess.

Since the return of civil rule in Nigeria in 1999, elections into public offices at all tiers of government have been marred by violence, rigging, and manipulation by politicians who are desperate to win at all costs, many of whom also claimed to be Christians.

Elected public officials have turned the state treasury to personal use to the detriment of those who elected them to the position of authority.

In our clime, we have also seen many who profess Christ with their mouth, but their actions, attitude, and character betray the position they claimed to hold.

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The book of Matthew 5:13–14 clearly states what believers, either in government or not, should refrain from: “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavour, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.”

The Bible reference means that God actually made believers to be game changers wherever they might find themselves, both in secular and spiritual stations, to savour and light up their worlds. To season means to give taste to, make sweet, and change the flavour, while light signifies illumination and the receding of darkness, transparency, and making open.

Believers are expected to be the salt that adds taste to a tasteless situation and circumstance and the light that exposes darkness and secret agents that are hidden to cause instability and dislocation in the smooth running of a just society.

What this means is that we are born to be different, unique, and to show the world examples of how things should be done in consonance with the spirit that dwells in us.

A believer in public space is expected to be a replica of who Christ is. The question that should go through such a mind constantly is: What would Jesus do if found in the circumstances and condition they found themselves in?

How would he respond to certain issues of public interest? Would he be silent in the face of oppression? Would he side with the oppressor? Or would he take a righteous stand against all odds?

Politics and governance ordinarily should not be the preserve of non-believers. While announcing the coming of Jesus Christ, Prophet Isaiah said in his book, chapter 9, verse 6, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder.”

When we combine this with the scripture that says ‘Christ is the head of the church,’ it then translates to be that as the body of Christ, the government of the world should rest squarely upon our shoulders.

In the Biblical days, under theocracy, God appointed righteous judges and even prophets to be the rulers of his people. The reason behind this was for God to establish His righteousness on earth through spiritual authority among His people.

Even at the point when the people of God rejected theocracy and asked for a monarchial system of governance, God was involved in the selection of the kings that rule over His people, while He also appointed prophets that provide spiritual guidance for the king.

The point I am trying to make is that God is concerned about the quality of leadership among His people at any point in time to ensure that righteousness prevails in the land and the people are able to live in peace and harmony.

Even when Israel was held in captivity and the people were dispersed abroad, those who found themselves in governance in a strange land demonstrated the quality of God’s righteousness in the midst of a perverse world.

Daniel was a young man who was brought to Babylon along with three of his compatriots, who were true worshippers of the God of their forefathers.
They were fortunate to be counted among those who are favoured by the King to be trained and released to be counsellors in the course of the kingdom.

Right from their recruitment, they chose not to compromise their faith or defile their bodies with the King’s portion in order to remain unpolluted and be consecrated for the work of God.

Even as vice presidents in Babylon, they chose to stand by the truth regardless of where the king stands and what the consequences of their action would be.

Nehemiah was another biblical personality that demonstrated the quality of a good leader. Right from his station as the cupbearer to the king, he showed that he could be trusted; he was able to gain the confidence of the king of Babylon, and through that, he was used by God to bring spiritual rebirth to the state of Israel.

Today, the book of Nehemiah remains a reference point in quality leadership, human resource management, project planning, and economic management. His commitment to the work of God was legendary as the Governor of the State of Israel; he demonstrated emotional intelligence in dealing with the adversary, and through that, he excelled in governance and established the people on the right path.

There are other examples in the Bible, including how God positioned Joseph, the son of Jacob and great grandson of Abraham, who became prime minister in a strange land. Nonetheless, he proved himself well enough to earn the position through trust. He dispensed justice regardless of whose horse was guarded.

Christians are the most suitable people to occupy the position of authority because of their godly character and the residence of the Holy Spirit in them, which puts them in a vantage position to act with a deeper sense of judgement and insight.

Because Christians have the mind of God, it becomes easy for them to function either in the public or private sector with dedication, commitment, and sound character, knowing that whatever they do, they are doing to the glory of God and accountable to the higher authority.

The important lesson from the scripture is that Christians have been endowed with extra-ordinary knowledge to devise solutions to the challenges facing the world today.

As believers, we are also endowed with such great wisdom as a result of our access to the mind of God on issues of life.

The disconnect occurs when believers would rather compromise their faith by following the multitude to pervert the way of the Lord, as can be seen in the actions and utterances of those in government today in our nation.

Factors that hamper the full function of believers in public office include the dominance of the children of the bondwoman in power, the quest for material gains, the declining influence of the church in protecting the sanctity of the gospel, the elevation of ethnicity to state policy, and the reluctance of genuine believers to get involved in politics and governance.

While some believers have been able to walk through the mine delicately and survive, not many are prepared for such insidious practice, and as such, those who dare are sometimes either swallowed by the intensity of the influence of the world, quit, or join in the practice so that they won’t be left behind or seen to be against the norms.

Though it can be acknowledged that the terrain on which people in the public sector are operating today has been polluted due to the quest for personal gain rather than service, it must also be noted that examples abound in the scripture of people who were raised by God to make a difference in their generation.

Nehemiah represents leaders who understand what the will of God is for his people and defiled all opposition against his carrying out the purpose for which he was sent: to rebuild the fallen wall of the city of Jerusalem.

Soaring in government and public service

For believers to succeed in government, they must recognise the place of God in the affairs of life and follow through with the leading of the Holy Spirit in the fulfilment of their divine purpose.

Like Nehemiah, who took his time to appraise the challenges before him and then assembled both materials and men to assist him in carrying out the assignment for which he was sent to Jerusalem, believers in government should be more focused on fulfilling God’s purpose for their lives.

They must first see their presence in government at whatever level as a divine call to service; this would enable them to properly appraise what is required of them to function in line with the will of God.

Secondly, Christians in government must also understand that whatever they do or do not do, they are accountable to God, who they represent, by virtue of their appointment or election into public office.

Thirdly, a believer in government should also recognise the fact that they are meant to show forth the light and make a difference in their conduct and approach to governance.

They must understand that the primary purpose of being in a position of authority is to represent the image and likeness of Christ. This should be seen in all decisions they are expected to make, problems they are assigned to solve, and counsel they are to give whoever they are responsible to.

They are not supposed to join the multitude to do evil, which means that their lives must be different from what have become the norms in our society today.

They must be people who place value on how to please God in all conduct and ensure God’s priority becomes theirs regardless of the practices of others within the government circle.
Believers’ focus must be different from the focus of others, and this means they should not be in government for the wrong reason but to do all things that will glorify God through them.

The only reason society will recognise the distinction between a believer in government and the rest is when they prove beyond a reasonable doubt that their presence in government is meant to glorify God and not themselves.

Considering the resources available to all believers through the power of the Holy Spirit, it’s inevitable for them to succeed in whatever position they might find themselves in.

It’s also important for believers to recognise the fact that “God rules in the affairs of men” and that it is only him who gives power and position to those whom He wishes, and He can also dethrone kings at His wish.

Therefore, for believers to soar on the wings of eagles in the public sector, which is reputed for corruption and manoeuvring, they must constantly be in tune with the Holy Spirit, seeking the mind of God on all issues and assignments.

They must be in readiness to defend their faith at all times through their deeds, in all situations and circumstances, without any iota of compromise and with equal zeal to serve.

Excellence is associated with God’s children, and it’s also important that every believer in government be a God ambassador by making excellent contributions to governance, distinct from the dubious methods adopted by others to defraud the people they are elected or appointed to serve.

Finally, they have the responsibility to model Christ even when circumstances in their offices require otherwise. They must be firm against playing politics of duplicity and prayerfully seek the face of God to enable them to succeed in their assignments.

It is important to note that for believers to soar in government, they must remain committed to God irrespective of the prevailing circumstances around them, ensuring that they are not tainted by malfeasances dominant in the public sector.

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