Parliament resumes today. Joining the grizzled veterans and those returning to the fray after a spell on the bench, will be forty-eight first-time Members and Senators, making up our full complement of 150 Members and 76 Senators.
They’ll have rugged up warm against the Canberra cold, steeled themselves for media doorstops, and sat with party-room colleagues, advisors and bureaucrats to get a handle on how best to play their part in governing our nation.
They are all charged with the same task: contending, advocating, legislating and leading in the best interests of this creative and complex nation. In a democracy, every politician (and every voter) in a way, is a king. Called by God to discern and judge with justice, to defend the poor and deliver those in need.
As they take up this task, they need our help.
Our politicians need our help to be inspired and challenged by a bigger vision.
They need our help to live up to a big vision of what Australia could and should be – a just and generous nation, able to acknowledge its own chequered history, to make right its current moral faultlines, and to be a champion for human rights and a world free from poverty.
Christians have a vision of the common good – beyond party lines and beyond political ideologies. We believe in the fundamental dignity of every person. We treasure the land on which we walk, and indeed the entire Earth, as a gift from a generous God, which we hold in trust. We worship and serve a God who is passionate to see the hungry fed, the homeless sheltered and the rights of the poorest and most vulnerable protected and promoted.
Our politicians need our help in prayer.
Every authority is God’s servant, mandated to work for the good of all. And yes, for the cynics among you, that even applies to Australia’s politicians. Yet we know that the temptation to use power to protect powerful vested interests without regard for its impact on vulnerable people is constant. We must hold our leaders up in prayer – asking God to grace them with wisdom and courage. To challenge them also to look beyond the horizon of the next election, and beyond the boundaries of their party platform, to genuinely serve the good of all.
Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to a king's son.
May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice.
May the mountains yield prosperity for the people, and the hills, in righteousness.
May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the needy, and crush the oppressor. Psalm 72:1–4
Our politicians need our help to find a just path through complex issues.
We need to raise our voices for and with those whose voices have been ignored or silenced, calling on our leaders to defend the rights of the poor and the needy. We need to be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves to find paths of love, justice and truth in difficult policy areas around indigenous reconciliation, refugees, overseas aid and climate change.
But this isn’t weird, or even optional, for Christians. We’ve always been at the forefront of social movements for justice and peace. When we pray, we are already activists and advocates. The Lord’s prayer is an activist prayer. Every time we ask, “Your Kingdom come...” we are lamenting the gap between the world as it is, and the world as it should be. The world as God intends it to be. In the process, too, we commit to being witnesses and agents of that kingdom of justice and peace.
So, think of our Federal politicians today. And think of how you plan to help them be good at their jobs.
Ben Thurley is the National Coordinator of Micah Australia. This article has also been published by Hope 103.2 here.