I believe in miracles!
So does Scott Morrison, it seems. His party looks on track to forming a majority Government, defying pundits, punters and pollsters across the nation. Opening his victory speech, he declared, “I have always believed in miracles.”
Prime Minister Morrison isn’t the first to invoke biblical themes when talking politics. When John Howard lost the leadership in 1989, he remarked in a press conference that the idea of him returning to leadership was, “Lazarus with a triple bypass”. His subsequent autobiography was entitled, “Lazarus rising”.
It seems as though politics is becoming more religious. Not more interested in religion. Religious. I might be wrong, but I don’t think people cared as much about politics in the past. Politicians did, of course. And hard-core activists. But most of us would scroll past the Facebook warriors, pick up our democracy sausage, and get on with life. That is changing. There is now a manic-panic over who will win. The stakes are higher and the tone is nastier. If you listen to the way some people talk about it, elections have become a matter of life-or-death. Our leaders are cast as messiahs or devils who will either save the world or destroy it. Politics feels very religious these days.
Politics is becoming more religious. The stakes are higher and the tone is nastier. If you listen to the way some people talk about it, elections have become a matter of life-or-death. Our leaders are cast as messiahs or devils who will either save the world or destroy it.
This is to be expected as our culture drifts from its Christian moorings. If we remove a real, active and loving God from our consciousness, who becomes the great power that we will look to? The state. If God can’t bring about the change or justice we long for, we will have to do it. And so, we will have to take power. There is no other option. No other hope. No other way. Change must be now. Justice must be now. Those who oppose us are no longer the honourable opposition. They are the enemy. And they must be stopped.
This is the attitude we saw in this election. It was desperate and it was nasty. Bill Shorten’s dead mum was attacked. Scott Morrison was egged. A One Nation truck was torched. A Tony Abbott volunteer was stabbed. And if you didn’t take a holiday from social media (always advised during an election campaign), you peered directly into the darkness of the human soul. When God becomes nothing, politics becomes everything.
After Tony Abbott lost the leadership to Malcolm Turnbull in 2015, he remarked,
Of course, the government wasn’t perfect. We have been a government of men and women, not a government of gods walking upon the earth. Few of us, after all, entirely measure up to expectations.
And yet, that is our problem. We now look for a government of gods. No wonder we are so disillusioned with politics. I don’t think our politicians are that bad. They’re not great. But they’re not that bad. But when you expect them to replace God and establish heaven on earth, you’re bound to get a little disappointed. It’s not that our leaders can’t do some good. It’s simply that they cannot save. Yet when we do away with God, who else is there to look to?
Do not put your trust in princes
The day after the election, I began our church service with this reading,
Do not put your trust in princes,
in human beings, who cannot save.
When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
on that very day their plans come to nothing.
Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the LORD their God. (Psalm 146:3-5)
Princes cannot save. This is not to say that we shouldn’t care about politics or leaders at all. They can, and should, do good. God has established governments to bring judgment on the wrongdoer (Rom 13:3-4). And it pleases Him when we pray for those in authority (1 Tim 2:1-5). But princes die. Governments end. And even the greatest of leaders cannot stem the tide of sin. The reality is that most of the real problems in our world and in our country, won’t be solved by politicians. Princes cannot save. But God can. The Psalmist continues,
He is the Maker of heaven and earth,
the sea, and everything in them—
he remains faithful forever.
He upholds the cause of the oppressed
and gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets prisoners free,
the LORD gives sight to the blind,
the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down,
the LORD loves the righteous.
The LORD watches over the foreigner
and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.
The LORD reigns forever,
your God, O Zion, for all generations. (Psalms 146:6–10)
Having commanded us not to trust in princes, we are reminded that not only is God in control, He cares. He cares deeply about the poor and the downtrodden. The fatherless and the widow. And this is what we must remember if we are to trust in God. The sad reality is that we won’t see the change we want in the world right now. But that doesn’t mean that God has abandoned us. He sustains us in the present and He will change this world in the future. Our help and our hope is in the Lord.
If we remember this we won’t go crazy over politics. We won’t panic when our party loses, nor will we rejoice too greatly when they win. We will respect our leaders as God’s servants, but we won’t hope in them as our saviours. And we will be patient when justice is delayed, watching and praying for the Kingdom that is to come.
I believe in miracles. But there is only one miracle that really matters.
There was another leader who seemed down and out. Another leader that everyone had written off. Another leader who defied the odds and won a stunning victory.
The resurrection of Jesus is the miracle that truly changed the world. At the crucifixion, the crowds shouted a resounding “No” to the Messiah. But through the resurrection, God thundered back a deafening “Yes!” Jesus is the Messiah. He is the King who rules the earth and the saviour who rescues us from sin. And He is making all things new. Our help and our hope is in Jesus, our Lord.
Elections can become distractions. We can forget that our hope is in the Lord, and not our favourite leaders. We can get so caught up in the culture wars that we lose sight of the spiritual war that rages around us. Whether a “heartless conservative” or a “cultural Marxist”, in the end we all fall into one of two camps: Dead or Alive. Condemned or Forgiven. Lost or Found. Hell or Heaven.
Christ is risen. That is the miracle that really matters. That is the message that really matters. And so, the mission that really matters is to call everyone we know to repent and believe in Jesus. He is our help and our hope.