Christians and politics
READ Daniel 4
Daniel, now explicitly trusted to provide a reliable interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (9), draws the king’s attention to the secondary nature of secular power and its derivation from God (26). In addition he reveals the standards expected of the king by that ultimate Power, namely that he “renounce…sins by doing what is right…and being kind to the oppressed” (27). Only by acknowledging itself as standing under the judgment of a higher Power and by carrying out standards of that Power can the king’s derived authority continue.
Separation of church and state prevents Christianity from becoming a means of sanctioning whatever the state does, and prevents the state from forcing adherence to a God whose nature is to persuade, not coerce. This same separation, however, does not preclude but rather provides for Christians to take a ‘prophetic’ role in the governance of the country. We are encouraged by Daniel’s example to call our nations to an awareness of moral standards which are higher than all political considerations and partisan agendas. The Old Testament prophets continually portray nations as called to an accounting before God; Jesus also portrays the gathering of “all the nations” at the judgment seat (Matthew 25:31-46). There, too, the question will be ‘how were the powerless treated?’ Do our leaders practice justice? Do they show kindness to the oppressed (27)? In the same humility with which Daniel approached his king, we are called to approach our leaders, employers and ministers and help them place their policies in the context of the concern of God for the hungry, naked, imprisoned and sick
PRAY Lord, help us to abandon pride, to seek justice and to pray for the