THIS has been a busy year for politicians, perhaps particularly in Great Britain and the Philippines. And now the United States is gearing up for major elections in November. This month, the nominating convention of the Republican Party is being held to choose their candidate for office. Last month the Democratic Party held their convention.
In the United States especially, much attention has been given to the "anyone but him vote. This describes the feeling that none of the candidates is satisfactory and expresses a general attitude of apathy and cynicism about government.
The Bible--which includes much history of governments in the early Judeo-Christian period --offers some very useful insights for situations like this. For example, Paul, a follower of Christ Jesus' teachings, was no stranger to problems in governments, especially the effects of corruption. He had met many rulers, had been treated unjustly many times in many nations, and could have easily been a bitter man on the subject of government.
Yet in his first letter to a fellow worker, Timothy, he writes with both practicality and compassion about the Christian's duty toward those in government. In the first chapter of his letter, he speaks of God as "the King eternal. This points toward the wisdom of turning to God in our prayers for government --both in our individual lives and in our nations.
In the next chapter, he goes on to tell Timothy, "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
Recognizing that all people are really under the government of the one good God--and having proved it many times during his travels and ministry--Paul could feel compassion for the rulers of the world he knew. This attitude stemmed from Christ Jesus' ministry, which emphasized the importance of loving one another, of being merciful and patient.
Neither man was recommending that wrongdoing be ignored or unpunished. But two basic points emerge: recognition that God is our true governor, and the importance of loving our fellow beings who--like us--may make mistakes or fall into temptation.
How can this help us today? For one thing, it can give us hope, because there is much we can do to help improve our governments. And we can start on this work right now by recognizing that each of us--even those who are in politics!--is, in truth, spiritual, the creation of God. As such, we all are made for the purpose of expressing God's qualities--intelligence, strength, wisdom, purity, among others.
What is it that keeps us from doing this? Why does corruption seem easy to slip into under some circumstances? It is because we submit to the belief that we are material beings, enslaved to sin, to fear of one kind or another, or are subject to material pressures that are overwhelming.
These temptations come to each of us, whether we are in government or not. Fear of losing a husband's love, dislike of a neighbor, allowing ourselves to be paid "under the table to avoid paying taxes are examples of how we can be tempted. This makes it possible for us to feel compassion for others who are also tempted and who may yield instead of resisting.
As we overcome such temptations, we are turning away from the belief that we are subject to the carnal, mortal view of life. We are also affirming our unity with God as His child and acknowledging our ability to live in harmony with His totally good government. What's more, we are also helping humanity to advance, because our individual prayers do reach out into our world. This happens much as light comes into a totally dark room. Even a sliver of light has a significant impact. And what's more, it is a great help to others in the darkness who are also seeking the light.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, was once asked about her politics by a Boston newspaper. Her reply is reprinted in The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany: "I have none, in reality, other than to help support a righteous government; to love God supremely, and my neighbor as myself.
As we learn to govern ourselves--to express God's qualities and to give up the temptations of greed, anger, lust, and other forms of corruption--our lives will change for the better. These prayers will bring more peace into our lives because our own decisions will be made from the standpoint of love for one another rather than from anger or cynicism. And as we evaluate political campaigns, we'll be able to feel more compassion for our fellow human beings.
Our governments--personal and political-- need our prayers. Let's pray for ourselves and our nations right now.
You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine.
God be merciful unto us, and bless us; and cause his face to shine upon us.... That thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving health among all nations. Let the people praise thee, O God; let all the people praise thee. O let the nations be glad and sing for joy: for thou shalt judge the people righteously, and govern the nations upon earth. Psalms 67:1-4