Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has set the date for the 2013 Federal Government Election. September 7.
The privilege to participate in free and democratic elections cannot be overstated – the election in Zimbabwe over the weekend is a perfect example of just how privileged we are globally speaking.
Many people are expressing dissatisfaction with the Australian political landscape, but in many ways the big policy areas in this election – the economy, asylum seekers, climate change policy, or myriad other campaign emphases from the major parties – are issues that we have the luxury to worry about thanks to the relative prosperity and stability we enjoy in Australia.
Perspective is important.
[pq]Part of the challenge, as Christians in Australia, is to think about how we might use our vote not to love and look after ourselves – but to love God and love our neighbours.[/pq]
One of the challenges in the way politics is conducted in our country is that the pitch for our vote is all about what’s good for our bottom line, or our hip pocket, or our future.
This might be the first time you enjoy the privilege of voting in Australia – perhaps you’ve just turned 18, or perhaps you’ve just received citizenship. This might be the first time you’re casting your vote as a Christian. If so – praise God.
Voting for Jesus
So how does being a Christian change your vote? Or your approach to voting?
Here are some principles we think are handy when it comes to taking part in shaping the future of our country – with some verses to read as you consider your vote (some resources for thinking about your vote are linked below).
- Following Jesus changes your view of the world (Colossians 3:1-17).
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.“”And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him – Col 3:1-2, 17″
- Following Jesus changes how you think about yourself, and others (Philippians 2).
“3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus – Philippians 2:3-5″
- You are a citizen of a new kingdom and an exile living in Australia (Colossians 3:20-21, 1 Peter 2:11-17), as an ambassador for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20).
“20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. – Colossians 3:20-21″
11 Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. – 1 Peter 2:11-14″
“16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.” – 2 Corinthians 5:16-20
- Voting is an exercise of your renewed mind and an opportunity for sacrificial love which imitates Jesus, and an opportunity to serve your king, Jesus – and your country (Romans 12).
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” – Romans 12:1-2
- Elections are a chance for us to pray for and honour those in authority (1 Timothy 2, 1 Peter 2, Romans 13:1-7), or who might be in authority after September 7.
“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” – 1 Timothy 2:1-4
“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established… 4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good… 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. 6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.” – Romans 13:1-7
“13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15 For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. – 1 Peter 2:13-15″
There are lots of issues to prayerfully consider and prioritise at this election – no one candidate is putting forward a policy platform that represents all Christian values. Here are some links for helping you think through your vote.
- The Bible Society has released a 2013 Australian Federal Election Guide which covers some issues that will be important to Christians.
- The ABC’s Political Compass is a tool that helps you weigh up the issues you feel strongly about in this election – it’s a pretty rough guide, but will at least get you thinking about how you prioritise the issues.
In all of this let’s remember what we’re hearing in the book of Romans.
The ultimate verdict is in: Jesus Christ has been “appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 1:4).
September 7 is an important day for our country, yet pales in the light of the coming day when all people from all nations will face the throne of God, with their only hope being Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” (Romans 1:16-17).
We will be praying, as a church family, and in our Growth Groups, about our politicians and the election over the next few weeks. Why not join us this Sunday?