I guess when you’ve cut God out of the equation as most of the mainstream media has these days, then it’s newsworthy when the ex Prime Minister tells Christians not to put their trust in governments.
But oh the shock and surprise in the media that what ex-PM Scott Morrison told Margaret Court’s Victory Life Church in Perth would be considered newsworthy. As The Guardian reports:
Morrison called on worshippers to put their faith in religion above other institutions like government…”“God’s kingdom will come. It’s in his hands. We trust in him. We don’t trust in governments. We don’t trust in the United Nations, thank goodness,” he said. “We don’t trust in all these things, fine as they may be and as important as the role that they play. Believe me, I’ve worked in it and they are important.”
Though I guess when every journo on the left or right of politics is foaming and gnashing at the mouth when their man/woman/party doesn’t get up, it would be somewhat of a surprise for them to realise that Christians have never felt the need to trust the government. Indeed their very textbook gives that advice right throughout.
Pray for your government. For sure. Obey your government. As long as what they are saying is not expressly against the revealed will of God. Okay. But trust? Surely not! Ever.
I mean how about these for starters:
Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm. O LORD, save the king! Answer us when we call! (Psalm 20)
Or what about:
Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to the king as the supreme authority, or to governors as those sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to praise those who do right.. (1Peter2)
Trust goes to God, submission goes to the government for the sake of God. Oh and then there’s this:
Why do the nations conspire
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth rise up
and the rulers band together
against the Lord and against his anointed, saying,
“Let us break their chains
and throw off their shackles.” (Psalm 2)
As someone texted me, in commenting on this astonishing statement from a Christian ex-PM:
“Waiting for your blog post on the PM saying in a church what churches say every.single.week.
And in a meta move, here it is. But that’s the point, right? Churches say this every single week, albeit not all. But the very gist of Scripture and the very liturgical framework of the church is to pray for the authorities, but not to trust them. To trust the authorities as the highest power there can be is to give them the honour due alone to the name of God and His Christ.
I’ve always been encouraged by an older friend of mine in Perth at our old church who, when he was conducting the corporate prayers would pray for both sides of government leadership by name, in both our state and federal parliaments. It was clear that he was putting his trust in God that ultimately God himself would ensure just government, not the leaders themselves. His intentional prayer reminded everyone in the building just where our faith should be, whatever political stripe they belonged to.
Now it’s true that some churches have wandered down the pathway of placing their trust in the government rather than their trust in God, and that has pierced them in many ways. On the conservative side of the spectrum some churches are waiting to get their man or woman in the White House or The Lodge or even Number 10 (though to be honest I think the British ship has sailed a while back!), in the vain hope that they can turn the cultural tide. And that is reaping a bitter harvest.
But on the progressive side, who’ve won the culture and lost the church (check the stats people!), there’s the tendency to also comingle the kingdom with the empire, although from the other side of the coin. Either way it’s a mistake, and all it does is hollow out the church or prove that the church already is hollowed out.
But perhaps in an age when the secular media, -along with its flotilla of agitators and hangers-on on social media platforms -, has elevated government to the now vacant hole where the West used to have God, then no wonder people live or die on politics.
Politics is God for hard secularists. That’s why they fight for their political causes so vociferously, dare I say, so religiously! That’s why one’s opponents are not merely wrong, but bad. That’s why any vision of a possible future that is good and kind and true and right is extinguished should your opponent grab the reins of power. That’s why political witch-hunts; that’s why heresy hunters; that’s why a political turncoat is a Judas who must be shunned. That’s why politics has become so hostile, because it’s everything when it has to fill the hole left by God.
It’s kinda sad watching the Australian media deal with religion in general. As The Australian’s Greg Sheridan, that rare beast in the media who is both deeply politically involved and deeply devout also, has noted, the least religious people in Australia – the media – are the most public commentators on it. In other words, most hacks frequently fail the 101 rule of journalism when dealing with matters of faith: know your subject matter. I am not sure there is a less religiously aware media in the Western world than Aussie journos.
But hey, maybe ScoMo is on to something, as survey after survey in Australia shows that most young people in this country don’t trust their politicians. Mind you, the irony for the former PM is that he was regarded as untrustworthy as a PM by many people, so there’s a certain sense he’s telling us to do what he perhaps led us to do anyway!
Either way, let’s ensure that come Sunday if we are gathering with the people of God again that we pray for our politicians, that we call on God to raise up good political leaders, but that we demonstrate by how we pray and in what we preach, that we trust in God alone.