Champion what is good in politics at this time

What a whirlwind few weeks it has been in Northern Irish politics.

Rev Danielle McCullagh, curate at Lisburn Cathedral

Party Leaders and First Ministers coming and going, and the threat of parties collapsing Stormont again has reared its head several times.

In conversation with people, and through social media, I get the distinct feeling that people in this country are frustrated with politicians, have lost faith in them, or maybe even stopped caring about who is in government. I have been challenged, to consider my response as a Christian, to our political landscape and our politicians. Lately I have been reminded of the relationship between God, Christians, and politicians.

I’m reminded that God has called me to respect and pray for the government set over me. The Message Translation of Romans 13:1-7 puts it this way:

‘Be a good citizen. All governments are under God. Insofar as there is peace and order, it’s God’s order. So live responsibly as a citizen. If you’re irresponsible to the state, then you’re irresponsible with God, and God will hold you responsible. Duly constituted authorities are only a threat if you’re trying to get by with something. Decent citizens should have nothing to fear.’

Do you want to be on good terms with the government? Be a responsible citizen and you’ll get on just fine, the government working to your advantage. But if you’re breaking the rules right and left, watch out. The police aren’t there just to be admired in their uniforms. God also has an interest in keeping order, and he uses them to do it. That’s why you must live responsibly—not just to avoid punishment but also because it’s the right way to live.

That’s also why you pay taxes—so that an orderly way of life can be maintained. Fulfil your obligations as a citizen. Pay your taxes, pay your bills, respect your leaders.

Despite their human frailties and faults, I believe God sees government as a good thing for the world. While I feel somewhat distant and removed from Stormont and the people who hold office there, I have a duty to be a responsible citizen. Of course that means to challenge injustice and corrupt politics and policies, but I should also champion what is good about politics, encourage faithful politicians, and of course pray for them.

It might be tempting to engage in the many negative conversations in the media and on social media, but as Christians can we do something different? I recently wrote an email to a politician simply to thank him for the ways in which I see him try to fulfil his duties, and to let him know I’m praying for him. I don’t agree with this politician on everything, and he hasn’t got it right all the time, but I do appreciate that he is carrying a heavy burden of responsibility.

Not all politicians get it right, and certainly not all the time, but can you be a ‘responsible citizen’, by championing what is good in politics at this time, encouraging a faithful politician, and praying for them?