My social media feed in the past week has been filled with excellent commentaries written by thoughtful friends who are followers of Jesus, expounding on some key issues in the election. Many have pointed us to the fact that as Christians, we vote not only as citizens of Singapore, but also as citizens of the kingdom. It has been heart-warming (cockles notwithstanding) to witness how many ordinary Singaporeans, regardless of political affiliation, have come out to debate issues, exchange views, and express our deep love for this country that we call home.
After a frantic nine-day campaign, the likes of which have never been seen before in the history of Singapore, the votes are in and the dust is settling as we awake to a new reality. In the midst of a pandemic, we went to the polls (some might say dragged, masked, kicking and screaming). We were asked to choose between giving a strong mandate for continuity, or to dream of a kinder, gentler nation. Well, for better or for worse, we have exercised our constitutional right and duty and picked our nation’s course for the next five years.
But where do we go from here? Do we hang up our political thinking caps for another five years, and go back to the pre-GE norm, overshadowed by the spectre of COVID? GE2020 has shown me that Singaporeans, when the chips are down, can be a vocal people that want to be heard. My sincere hope is that we do not just shelve our political identities and go back to the way things were now that the election is over. Instead, I hope that we can harness the civic consciences that were awakened during this period, and keep those ideas and mindsets going and growing.
We were reminded by many Christian leaders and writers to exercise our vote as citizens of the kingdom; I would suggest that this also places a burden and duty on us, then, to live not only as politically aware citizens post-election, but also socially responsible ones, to follow through on our voting principles.
Proverbs 11:10 tells us “When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices”. The Hebrew word used for righteous here, tsadiqqim, conveys a deep meaning quite different from our understanding of a merely upright person who obeys all the laws. The tsadiqqim are people who adhere to a standard of righteousness that not only sticks to man’s standards, but more importantly to God’s standards. As author Amy Sherman puts it, “the tsaddiqim view all of the talent, experience, wealth, standing, and power that they have been given, indeed every blessing they have been given, not as a means of self-aggrandisement or self-enrichment, but as a means for blessing others.”
It is my deep prayer that those of us who voted in this election exercised that vote prayerfully and in full surrender to God, who is sovereign over Singapore. Whichever party you voted for, you expressed a desire for a change for the better, but that change starts with us. May I encourage you to keep praying for our elected leaders to discharge their office with wisdom, compassion, justice and mercy.
The call to the tsadiqqim is to exercise their gifts and their prosperity for the common good, for a greater foretaste of justice and shalom in the community. The question is, who are these tsadiqqim? They are not JUST the ones that we voted for; they are also the ONES WHO VOTED. If we have exercised our right to vote in accordance with the values of the kingdom, then we are also invited into the outworking of the kingdom in our society on a daily basis.
This election result has been called historic and ground-breaking for our nation; for the change it appears to bring. It has been said to reflect a maturing of the electorate, a willingness to challenge the norm and make its voice heard. It is my prayer that underlying this sentiment is the consciousness of the tsadiqqim, that even as we voted as citizens of both our nation and the kingdom, we did so with the understanding of us being, and bringing, the common good to our fellow citizens.
As many of the candidates reminded us voters to, “make your vote count”, may I suggest that this exhortation was not limited merely to the election process, but also what happens after the election. It invites us into a co-creative process of building a kinder, gentler reality for this city state we call home. May we see ourselves as the tsaddiqim that are continually seeking the collective shalom of this nation, and rise up to that holy calling daily, in whatever spheres of influence we find ourselves. If not us, then who? The election is done, the people have spoken, the work begins. Let us constantly be praying 1 Timothy 2:1–2 for our leaders, and ourselves.
I urge, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people — for kings and those in authority — that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.
Michael is a former lawyer, banker, now fundraiser and adjunct lecturer at BGST. He is a Graceworks associate and he and his wife Elena run a Friends In Transition (FIT) group, as one of their many areas of engagement with young adults.