Today: Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Who’s in charge?    (2/4/2018 1)

Fifty years ago, my wife and I (newly married) travelled through Yugoslavia. It was then one country, under a communist dictatorship - the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia - ruled by President Josip Broz Tito. Tito’s great achievement was to unite such a disparate country under one government. That unity, of course did not survive for long after his death. We have been frequent visitors there since that time, and have witnessed some of the devastation of the Civil War of the 1990s.

Interestingly, the country was once part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Then between the First and Second World Wars it was a Kingdom, before becoming a Republic. So it had successively an Emperor-King, a King and a President. Now it is no longer united, but a collection of independent states, each with its own government.

That very brief summary of one country’s traumatic history in the last century is reminder of how much and how quickly governments can change, partly due to conflicts and the struggle to find a nation’s identity and what form of government suits its people best. Similar stories have happened throughout history and all round the world.

We have been looking in recent weeks for distinctively Christian values as they are highlighted in the Lord’s Prayer, the prayer of Jesus. At the heart of it there are three key words that sum up his ‘political agenda’ - “Your Kingdom come” (see Matthew 6, verse 10 and Luke 11, verse 2).

Christians hold various different political views, but in this they are united - the ultimate rule they seek and pray for is that God’s rule of peace, love and justice may come on earth. Christians are taught to pray for those in government (see 1 Timothy 2, verses 1&2), but there is a tension - it is clear that there are times when those in authority need to be challenged.

In fact, some of the earliest Christians were prepared to die because they believed that God was the only King to whom worship should be offered. They were not prepared to bow in worship to any Roman Emperor or earthly King.

Today, Christians test political parties and political programmes by the standards of God’s Kingdom. They pray that the laws and goals of their society may match as closely as possible the laws and goals of God’s Kingdom.

What sort of world do we want to see? What kind of government do we want to live under? Who sets the tone for our lives? Jesus gave us this prayer “Your Kingdom come” as a framework for the kind of life we should seek and work for, where God’s Qperspective on everything is the perspective we are learning and following.

That is so radical, it should be our constant prayer and guide.

Prayer; Lord, you have given us a world to live in and people to live with. Help me to live under your government, with your insights and wisdom, with your love and compassion, following your purpose. And help us to live together in obedience and love under you as our King and Ruler.

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