Some have quipped that Canadian politics is boring, and that’s just the way we like it … usually. We all like to complain, but usually without much personal investment and even less resolve. If it takes a lot to get our blood boiling and our nerves twitching, the present flurry of activity, political maneuvering, and partisan politics may just do it. (And has, if the amount of discussion on-line, and in coffee shops is any indication!)
Big (and scary) ideas like coalition government, confidence of the House, proroguing Parliament, deals with the devil, socialist agendas, and separatist support are starting to get many people wondering what has just happened. Just a little over a month since our last national election in essence showed that the average Canadian did not really want to change the make-up of our current government, and everything seems to be on the verge of a truly historic change – and all without (or arguably, against) the consent of the people who just made their voices and wishes heard.
It can be said that each and every one of our parties in Ottawa is engaged in partisan power-plays to the detriment of the people they have been called to serve. There is enough we are worrying about already, without having to worry about what our leaders may or may not be up to, and what ramifications this will have on our nation’s economy. What are we Christians to make of such politicking? What are we to think or do? How should we feel about what’s going on?
Let’s take our cue from the season of the Church before us. Advent is a time of preparation and reflection. Advent is a time for focusing on the coming of Christ. Christ who first came as a baby, Christ who comes even now in Word and Sacrament, and Christ who will come again in glory. In that vein, then, let us take a deep breath and sit back and prepare our hearts before making a response. Let us look to the Word.
And when we look to the Word, especially as it relates the earthly life and ministry of our Lord, we see that nothing is new under the sun. Governments have always been made up of human beings who from time to time serve their own vested interests, even if it hurts those under them.
Luke 2:1-3 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town.
Consider the government of the day when Mary was pregnant and ready to give birth. Rome decided that they needed a census and the easiest way to get the information was to have every single person in the empire get up and bring that information to them. From that self-serving policy our Lord was delivered in a stable in Bethlehem, laid to rest His new-born head in a manger. Far from His family home, he would even be singled out and hunted down, by a king with a fear of losing power.
Or then there was the infamous governing policies shown under Pontius Pilate. John 19:6-8, 12-13 When the chief priests and the officers saw him, they cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no guilt in him.” The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has made himself the Son of God.” When Pilate heard this statement, he was even more afraid … From then on Pilate sought to release him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.” So when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Stone Pavement, and in Aramaic Gabbatha.
Did the governor know what was right? Of course he did. Did he do it? Would you? His job was on the line, politics as usual and because of the partisan maneuvering our Lord is delivered up for crucifixion on trumped up charges from the chief priests, by a Roman governor who KNEW he was innocent.
We should not be surprised when governments don’t work the way we would hope. So it always has been in this world. So it was for our Lord. So it will be for us. But consider this … God used even these machinations of politics to bring about His salvation in Christ. In the end all government, good or bad will answer to Him. All government, functioning or not, will be used by Him for the good of His beloved people.
So let the politicians play their games. Let the parties have their day. While none of what’s going on may seem palatable (on either side of the divide), it is all part and parcel of our governmental system. Soon enough they will all be held accountable to the electorate once again. In the meantime, pray for your leaders. Pray for peace. Pray that somewhere in all this, those who have been elected will see to the needs of the people they serve with as much tenacity as they do to their own.
And then relax. Our government may not seem like it is in much control anymore … but God still is!
Rom 8:37-39 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.