The Futility of King Making

During my recent visit to the Philippines, the usual question that the churches wrestled in view of the brewing next year’s national election was still the usual, “Should we as a church unite and put our weight in endorsing political candidates (particularly religious ministers turned politicians)?” In other words “Can we not be like God and choose our own king?” The arguments pros and cons range from a battery of spiritual prophetic name – dropping (God’s Name) to philosophical presumptions.

We will continue to wrestle with this tempting question as long as we insist in using contemporary human understanding of good and evil. We need to consult the deeds of God as recorded in the Scriptures and history in order to resolve this dilemma to finality.

The Holy Name of God

To begin with, the question we need to ask should be, “Should we as a church compromise the Holy Name of God by vouching for a political candidate?” Many times our partisan spirit excite us to a euphoria that we become short sighted and fail to see the long-term effect of our momentary tantrums. We fail to see that when the church officially endorses a political candidate we drag the Holy Name of the Lord to the arena of human comedy.

Did God ever take a chance to risk the integrity of His Name by rooting for specific political figure? When the people of Israel decided to have a political king to rule them, God repudiated their desire by emphatically telling Samuel, “It is Me they reject as their king.” Some would reason out, well, didn’t God choose Saul and David to be the king of Israel? Yes indeed, but He did with much reservation and only in response to the tantrums of His people. God made Himself very clear, and unlike modern commercial sales documents (where the exclusion disclosures are cleverly written in small print), God wrote His disclosure in large prints. He announced clearly that whoever will be their king, that bloke would lord it over them – get their wealth, and instead of serving, they will serve him. Yes, God responded to their request and gave them a king, but He refused to act as guarantor for whatever misdeeds the king would commit. He was not willing to jeopardize His reputation for the sake of a king.

Politically, King Saul was a failure. King David was also considered a failure, even after being a successful tribal warrior in the likeness of “Robin Hood”, who ruled the nations through his dedicated rag tag army. His integrity was in question when he plotted the death of one of his faithful commanders in order to steal his wife. He killed anyone that opposed his political judgement. The rape among his siblings and the rebellion of his son exposed his failure as a father. What made him different from all the other kings was his brokenness to recognize his failures before the LORD.

After David, the records written by author(s) of the book of Samuel and Kings show that God completely refrained from getting involved in the succession of the kings. Kings where selected by human political manoeuvre, deceit, murder and coup. The prophets either became political advisers or staunch oppositionists. It is apparently clear that God will not put to compromise His Good Name for the sake of any human leader (religious or political). Mankind is too morally inconsistent and unreliable.

Religious to Political

The other controversial issue is the decision of several religious leaders to run for political office. Is this sensible, sane or insane? Again the arguments pros and cons range from insult to wishful thinking. Many traditional politicians (fearful of the captive crowd and votes of the religious candidates) are quick to belittle the capability of a spiritual leader to run for political office. While the latter on the other hand, boast of the seemingly untainted morality they claim they possess, as guarantee for them to change the whole country for better.

Running for political office is the right of every citizen in a democratic process. Therefore, anyone with a messianic complex may file a candidacy to become president of the country. However, reality tells us that the promises of political candidates in having the right formula to make the country better are just naiveties of human self confidence and political wishes, therefore are mutable and unreliable.

But it does not mean that none of the candidates can serve their country well and meaningful in one way or the other. In the case of Solomon – he has made Jerusalem a prime city in the same class of New York and London. On the other hand, we also know that in order to propel his political accomplishments, he conscripted many of his citizenry to unfair labour that breed discontent that later triggered the division of the kingdom. In other words we can never pin our hopes or exalt any political (religious or not) candidates to a messianic status because they are not and will never be.

Our Obligation

The ability for candidates to stick their guns to their political promises are all in equal footing to become empty promises. But some candidates may qualify more to face the need of the time that confronts the nation. They may not fulfill all their promises but due to their skill, dedication and character they are in a better position to address most of the pressing needs of the nation. In view thereof,I would suggest four simple guidelines:

1. Know the need(s) of the nation.
2. Know the candidates, research their qualifications (education, skills, experiences), character, and platforms.
3. Decide which one you personally believe is qualified to do the job.
4. Detect who among them somehow fear the Lord and desire righteousness to prevail in the land.

Conclusion

Politics is an essential ingredient of human existence and social order. It is not evil as many self-righteous people claim. In fact, God ordains it. People make politics corrupt. It becomes corrupt when politics is used to obtain power and use the citizenry for exclusive agenda and interest. Yes, even Christian politicians can be corrupt if they serve exclusively Christian interest and agenda and discriminate citizenry of other faith.

God chooses many kinds of people to rise and serve in the political arena some are His people some are not. Jethro has to be summoned to help Moses set up his counselling progamme. God called Cyrus, a Persian pagan king His servant. History tells us that many great events and nations of the world were shaped through political leaders who were not saints, but have been used by God to bless many! They are leaders appointed in time to do the will of God.

The hope of the nation is in the hands of God, through His Son Jesus the Lord of all!

Rene Nepomuceno
01 September 2009