Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

If Government Doesn't Govern

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

If Government Doesn't Govern

Article excerpt

There's an African proverb that often describes politics well: "When elephants fight, the ants suffer."

In the political collisions of personalities and parties, and the resultant instabilities, it's the common people whose lives are affected. And in some nations, it seems as though the elephants are always fighting. Yet the purpose of government should be that the elephants, the politically powerful, benefit the ants, the men and women who get up every morning and go to work, raise their children, and trust that governmental institutions such as schools and courts are safe and just.

The chaotic effects of governmental instability on everyday life don't have to be an accepted part of our world. Public protests against governmental instability, however, often have a negative effect and contribute to further instability.

Perhaps we need to find a spiritual solution. And Christ Jesus pointed people in this direction. After his resurrection - and, according to the account in the book of Acts, immediately before his ascension - Jesus' disciples asked him a political question about the future of their government: "Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?" Jesus chided them, and turned their thought away from political speculation, instructing them to be "witnesses unto me ... unto the uttermost part of the earth" (Acts 1:6, 8).

The move from being a political observer (and perhaps victim) to a witness of the Christ is huge. But it's a mental one, and we can make this move today, right where we are, in whatever nation we find ourselves living. It involves acknowledging that the true government, the government that Isaiah prophesied as "upon his [the Messiah's] shoulder" and of which "the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end" (Isa. 9:6, 7) is more powerful in our lives than any human government. …

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