What has God to do with politics?

“God loves our party – He has given us this country, we will continue to rule”, a party leader rejoiced the other day. Politicians routinely tell the Church “not to meddle in politics”, but they themselves do not hesitate to “meddle in religion”.

Some naïve believers may be pleased that their leaders are ‘religious’. But what does such God-talk really mean?

If God loves the party, does the party also love God? We know ‘God is love’. Parties and movements driven by hatred have no place in God’s creation which is held together by love and respect. But there is hate-speech against enemies (‘weevils’, ‘zvipfukuto’), envy, jealousy everywhere. There is tribal rivalry and ‘xenophobia’ (fear of strangers).

If these party leaders really cared about God, respected the Lord, and kept his commandments, there would be no political murders, prisoners would not be killed in overcrowded jails, the sick who are desperately poor would be treated for free, and our hospitals would have medicines.

Deeply distressed

Those political leaders have no love for God nor for the poor. They only love themselves.

Real Christians are deeply distressed when a leader is called “another Jesus Christ”. Jesus never sought luxury and wealth. He had “nowhere to lay his head” and he defended the poor against their rich tormentors and exploiters. Could there be a greater contrast between a “chef” and Jesus?

Those leaders do not honour and revere our Lord and Creator. They use him. By claiming to enjoy divine favour, they try to intimidate the people. ‘We and God are one, we have all power, we are as almighty as God.’

This is not a God who liberates, as Yahweh freed the Hebrew slaves out of the hands of Pharaoh, or as Jesus freed us from the evil one, but a divine tyrant. It is a false God before whom terrified and humiliated people cringe in the dust – which is what those leaders want us to do before them.

Absolute power

Too many of the national leaders on our continent want absolute power, power without limits, without a time limit, for instance (being president 3, 4, 5 times…for “life”, i.e. until death), enjoying limitless wealth, and countless privileges. Their idea of God is that of a merciless tyrant, of an exploiter of the poor, of a totally self-centred being. If that is God, then his worshippers can also be merciless, tyrannical and ruthlessly selfish. Such a God would justify their inhuman, vicious, evil ways.

Jesus was known as the “Son of David”. Now who was David? He was a king. Power and lust was his great temptation too. At the height of his glory and fame, he saw no limits to observe. When he saw the ravishing beauty of Bathsheba he grabbed her and made her his own. To keep her as his wife he arranged for her husband to die in battle. But when Nathan, the prophet, boldly denounced his crime he repented. (Most other tyrants would have given orders to execute Nathan on the spot).

David acknowledged that he had overstepped the limits even a king and leader of the people has to respect: “You must not kill” – “You must not commit adultery”. He acknowledged that he is not God, and that his power is not limitless. That is the crucial difference between a tyrant with absolute power and a leader who is under divine law and bound by the collective will of the people. The authority of such a ruler is restricted, because it serves a purpose, namely to ensure that life is protected and the fruits of the earth serve the common good and the welfare of the nation as a whole.

Jesus, the Son of David, did not recognise the special privileges of an elite while tolerating the misery of the ordinary people. He regarded all the people, including the blind, the lame, the lepers, those possessed by evil spirits, as children of God, the Father of us all, and his Father. He was never partial. He never favoured one party more than another.


Those political zealots of today who try to drag Jesus over to their side and make him their puppet know nothing. In their overweening pride they want to ‘re-create God in their own human image’, remodel him to suit their own ambition for power.

That impartiality is the root of the equality which our Constitution is according to all of us, regardless of ethnic background, sex or gender, religion or culture. This equality is the foundation of democracy, i.e. of government in which all citizens can participate.

This is the great political, even moral and spiritual divergence of our time, a conflict of global proportions: there is the absolute, personalised power of the tyrant, on the one hand, and the constitutional state which recognises the rule of law, the separation of powers and democratic elections as a way of overcoming political violence, on the other.

If people engaged in politics wish to bring their faith to bear on their political action, they should first of all speak the truth, refrain from rigging elections, respect the verdict of the people, and without discrimination respect the human dignity of every man, woman and child. Even their opponents deserve to be treated as human beings, and not as “cockroaches” to be trodden underfoot.

Post published in: Faith

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