I had wanted to update you on the work of Graceworks but again felt led to put that aside and share something about politics, with Singapore facing a general election and Malaysia in continuing political uncertainty. And, of course, a presidential election in the US in November. Many of you will know I am a Malaysian residing in Singapore with a deep love for both countries.
2018 was a watershed year in Malaysian politics. Many of us rejoiced because we had voted in a change of government, one that promised a move away from the racism and corruption that had crippled the country for a long time. Earlier this year we saw a frustrating change of government that resulted from political gerrymandering by some people hungry for power and we are moving back to the bad old days.
I and many others are very frustrated but it was an object lesson that our euphoria was premature, that change doesn’t come that easily, and that we cannot put our ultimate trust in earthly leaders and parties. The painful fall of a preferred government is a reminder that all human leaders, sooner or later, in one way or another, will disappoint you. The only leader that will not fail us is Jesus and the only government that will not fail us is the Kingdom of God. This is true in Malaysia, this is also true in Singapore, the US, everywhere.
If we really believe this, we will make sure our hopes and feelings are not 100 percent invested in any political party or leader, that we will be not too quick to rejoice when things go our way politically, nor be too depressed if things don’t go our way. No earthly leader/government can carry the weight of being a saviour. Our ultimate trust is anchored in the Lord who is on the throne now and who is coming again. Anchored thus in Christ we will not be that vulnerable to the changing political winds that we face. If we truly remember this we will not be emotionally swept away by the inevitable rhetoric of an election.
And because we believe the only leader that will never fail us is Jesus, we continue to invite people to “vote” for Him, to invite people to repent and give their allegiance to King Jesus. Followers of Jesus are ambassadors of the KOG (Kingdom of God) party and we represent Him, blessing people at all times even as we invite loyalty to this King who died for them.
Does that mean we should not be involved in the political process? Does that mean that Christians shouldn’t run for public office?
I believe that the call to be witnesses to King Jesus and the command to be salt and light in the world (Matthew 5:13–16) means that followers of Jesus have a responsibility to work towards a world that resembles, as much as possible, the perfect world that is coming, a world marked by compassion and justice. We know up front that we cannot see this happening perfectly until Christ returns, but in the meantime we do what we can. After all, we pray “your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” and surely we not only pray but do what we can to see that that happens while we await “your kingdom come” (Matthew 6:10).
I am grateful for some dear friends who are followers of Jesus and who are serving or are standing for public service both sides of the Causeway. I am glad that some can articulate clearly how they see their service in politics as part of their discipleship. They may end up on different sides of the political divide. No one can claim that only he/she represents King Jesus. Voters have to look at the person, his or her character and competence, and at his or her party — to what degree do their positions align with God’s concern for justice and compassion for all. We resist any temptation to oversimplify matters. Overseeing a country in a fallen world will always be complicated. But we need to do our part. We should pray both for the candidates and for the political process. We pray for God to guide. And we vote.
One more thing needs to be said. If followers of Jesus end up on different sides of a political divide they must never forget they have a common allegiance to a higher authority and therefore they must love each other. They may disagree politically but that disagreement takes place between brothers and sisters who are prepared to die for each other. Sometimes I think this is the best advertisement for the KOG party, when we show the world how we disagree in the context of love. In a world increasingly divided, people will notice a community where people disagree but who genuinely love each other. This is so rare. Encountering this, who knows, they may be led to vote for the KOG.
In these turbulent times, let us draw near to the Lord.