Met up with an old friend a recently. He pastors a church back in Malaysia. There was a time in his life when he was deciding between serving in politics and serving as a pastor. That was a critical time in Malaysian politics and we needed good people to stand for office. We also needed good people in the church. I recall agonising with him over the decision, talking through the issues, and praying. He decided that God wanted him to be a pastor. I am sure he disappointed some of his comrades in his political party. Looking back, he said that the Lord had confirmed that it was the right decision. I was glad.

I pointed out that as a pastor, he could also encourage his friends who were serving in politics, especially those who were followers of Jesus. There were key theological truths that could help undergird those who sought to serve the Lord in politics.

A healthy dose of eschatology would be critical. The fact that evil will be defeated in the end and that God will usher in a new heaven and a new earth gives us the courage to press on even when the odds are against us. We know how things turn out eventually and so we find the strength and conviction to press on.

The doctrine of the sovereignty of God would also be key for followers of Jesus in politics. We do our best but we can live with the outcomes because we believe that the Lord is on His throne and nothing happens without His sovereign will. This is not some paralysing fatalism. It is the recognition that we can be free to do our best but that the burden of history rests on God’s shoulders, not ours. We trust in the Lord and do good (Psalm 37:3).

Then there is the reality that God’s view of time is different from mine, that for Him, “a thousand years is like a day” (2 Peter 3:8b NIV). We want so much for our vision of government to triumph and we want it now. But God takes His time and His timing is perfect, never late or early. If we believe this, we can be patient. We can continue to press on even when things do not happen at the speed that we want. Abba knows best. I am called to be faithful.

This Saturday, May 7th, the Malaysian state of Sarawak will be holding her state elections. I pray for my brothers and sisters on both sides of the political divide. May they campaign with the heart and the ethics of their Lord Jesus. As a Malaysian from peninsular Malaysia I know that I have not shown enough attention and care for the welfare of my fellow Malaysians in Sabah and Sarawak. I regret this and hope to do better. I have some good friends from those states.

The odds are against the opposition gaining any inroads this time, much less win the state. I am hoping and praying that the opposition will make progress. For some time now, I see the government of the day in Malaysia going down a path of corruption, racism and the erosion of basic human rights. So while I see weaknesses and problems in both coalitions, I still hope that the opposition makes progress in this election and in the next general election. God have mercy.

I remain convinced that the ultimate solution to humankind’s problems is the gospel of Jesus Christ. That is why I am glad that my friend is serving as a pastor and that he was in Singapore getting training in church planting. The best government awaits the return of the King. In the meantime, I think it is our Christian duty to do whatever we can to maximise good and minimise evil as best we can, and that includes involvement in the political process.

Sarawak has her state elections this Saturday. It is also the day of the Bukit Batok by-election in Singapore. And the Philippines elects her president on Monday. Followers of Jesus, let us pray, let us speak up and let us vote. (And let us be gracious to those who support parties we don’t agree with.) But let us never forget that righteousness will win in the end, that the Lord is on His throne and that He will work out His perfect purposes in His perfect timing. Trust in the Lord and do good.