Should we pray for leaders rigged into power?
The Bible Study topic was about Gideon and the trials he faced as a leader of the Israelites.
We had discussed the inadequacies of Gideon and other persons in the Bible and how God helped them through.
The next question was “What does this teach us about the battles of life?”
As answers came from the congregation, the gentleman who sat next to me, he prefers to be called TO, cast me an aside: Leaders who are rigged into power, are they of God? I was taken by surprise, but I responded: It is a complex question, no yes or no answer, but TO shot that same question at the Study Leader.
It was a good thing he did, and I think it is a question Christian citizens should think through. Our engagement with the state, as citizens, should go beyond “praying for all that are in authority.” Our faith should find practical expressions in exemplary citizenship and conduct. Electoral conduct is one of such areas.
God is for Free and Fair Elections!
It is my considered opinion that elections are perfectly scriptural means of selecting leaders. It is also important to know that even in the apparently uncontrollable activities involved in ballots; God’s will can be established. “The lot is cast in to the lap”, says the scripture, “but every decision thereof is of the Lord”. You can substitute “vote” for “lot” and “ballot box” for “lap” in that quote, and you’ll get the full idea of what the bible is saying. Think again, we do not need to fight over power: “The lot causeth contentions to cease, and parteth between the mighty”. If elections are conducted properly, post electoral violence will be exceedingly minimised.
It is God’s will that we conduct our affairs with honesty and transparency. “A false balance is abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight.” Election rigging is like a false balance. It is unjust. God is not in it.
Casting lots has been a practice in the Bible from the earliest times. Whether to share property or to choose men for war or even to choose the Apostle who was to replace Judas, men in the Bible considered it a sacred practice through which God expressed His mind. To seek to pervert the decision was unthinkable. Rigging elections would be just as bad. It is perversion of justice. God hates it.
The Christian Duty!
You will say “but they rig everyday”. Sure, it happens. That is why as people of God, we need to have an understanding of what to do as a corporate body or as individuals.
We should never partake in nor facilitate rigging. As far as I’m concerned, it is a dis-respect to God’s word. To rig is to pervert justice, to unjustly tilt the scales. If you are a contestant in a rigged election, it is right to pursue justice through legitimate means. It is easy for people to mouth “those who make peaceful change impossible”, but I do not know if the Arab Spring brought the peace that the people expected. Indeed, the Bible says “the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God”. Christians are under an obligation to be peacemakers: “Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.”
I believe Christians in various capacities should be in the fore-front of fighting for an orderly and just society. The people who rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem had their trowels on one hand, and their swords by their side. As we pray for a better country, we need to also indeed contend, legitimately, for its manifestation.
If in spite of the above?
Certainly, after doing all, some election-riggers will still ram through, either by force of violence or perversion of justice. What should be the Christian attitude to such leaders?
Christians must continue to have the courage to “speak truth to power”. King Herod corruptly married his brother’s wife. A John the Baptist was not afraid to tell him: “It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother’s wife”. It is a different question if they will hear, but it is a duty that those who occupy the required ministries do not shy away from declaring the mind of God. It remains a duty for Christians to pray for those in authority, that we may live a peaceful life. And Christians in authority must bear in mind that they are God’s ambassadors in public service and represent him faithfully.
Now, having done our duties the way we ought, we have a legitimate expectation that God will do His. Christians can preach and show exemplary behaviour, in the final analysis, it is God who convinces and convicts the crooked. We can pray, but it is God who answers prayers, in His own time, and in His own way. The prophets and preachers can declare God’s mind, it is God who enforces His word.
At the end of it all, we should sing the song of victory like ancient Israel, after the overthrow of Pharaoh:
“I will sing unto the Lord
For he has triumphed Gloriously
The horse, and the rider
He has thrown into the sea.”
The God that removed Pharaoh from power is still alive!
(References in order of citation: Prov 16:33, Prov: 18:18, Prov 11:1, James 1:20, Psa 34:14, Neh 4:18, Mar 6:18. Mar 6:18)
What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments.
(originally published in the Communion Affairs on March 23, 2014)