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THE CHRISTIAN AS SALT AND LIGHT IN POLITICS

ANNUAL BGST LECTURE ON CONTEMPORARY ISSUES IN THE


MARKETPLACE
Written Draft of Speech delivered on 11 July 2008 at Thomson Road Baptist Church
Dr Toh See Kiat

Tonight, I am honoured to be delivering this lecture – the inaugural


BGST Annual Lecture on Contemporary Issues in the Marketplace.
Through these lectures, we hope to provoke and inspire Christian
thinking on various issues which affect us in our work and in our
community. Rare is the Christian who finds the energy and time to
ponder – what does the Bible say about this? We aim to change all that
in the BGST – the Biblical Graduate School of Theology. We want to
help Christians integrate the values of their faith into their whole lives of
discipleship at work, home and church.

Our topic tonight is politics, specifically, “The Christian As Salt And


Light In Politics”. It is a topic that the Church in Singapore should pay
some attention to – seeing that it has been dominating our daily
newspapers and television screens in recent months. What should the
Christian’s position be in this ongoing and active debate? My lecture will
be in five parts, as follows:
I. Defining the Issues and Taking Sides
II. What does It Mean to be Salt and Light?
III. Submission, Not Subordination
IV. Going the Full Length, Knowing the Limits
V. The Rest Is Up To You

I. Defining the Issues and Taking Sides


a. The meaning of “politics”
Let me begin by defining “politics”. Many people today think of political
parties and elections when they think of politics. It doesn’t help that
Hillary and Obama dominate our waking moments the way they do –
and we are not even going to elect them. Then there is tumult and theatre
nearby - Anwar and Abdullah; Thaksin and Thailand; Musharraf and
Nawaz; Maoists in Nepal; Ma and the New Taiwan. Politics has never
been more exciting.

The word “politics” has a Greek root – politeia. If my Greek is bad,


please do not blame BGST. But I believe politeia to the ancient Greeks
described the whole of life in the public domain. It related to the civil
obligations of citizens; public administration and government of the polis,
or city; and the conduct of social and communal affairs in “the public

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square” (Richard John Neuhaus). In this talk tonight, I want to use the
word “politics” in its widest sense – referring not just to government and
party politics, but to all the concerns, affairs, rights and obligations of
our lives in the public domain. I will touch on party politics as only an
aspect of that wider meaning.

b. Four positions on Christian involvement in politics


Christians down the centuries have taken one of three positions in
relation to involvement in politics, or in the ways of the world.

One position is to separate from the world, to avoid being contaminated


by it. The position is either taken due to the desire to be holy, or to
concentrate on the propagation of the Gospel because of urgency, or
simply on the grounds that Jesus and His apostles were not involved in
politics. But it is clear that Jesus and His apostles never said, “Stay away
from governments and political systems; don’t support them; they are
not from God”. In fact they said the opposite. A study of passages like
Romans 13:1-7 will make this abundantly clear.

On the other extreme is the position that Christians must change the
world and bring God’s Kingdom here on earth now; and politics is the
most effective means to achieve that. This position has given us
Constantine, Cromwell, Calvin and the Catholic liberation theologians.
The results have not been totally satisfactory. Other than the poor
testimony of failed political reforms and fallen politicians, the focus is
taken off the Gospel and our primary Commission (Mt 28:19-20) as
Christians.

The middle position, which I subscribe to, is I believe a balanced one that
avoids the ills of both extremes. It is the position that the Church’s
primary function is to spread the Gospel and through that to transform
hearts and minds and bring them the salvation of Christ. Nevertheless,
we are citizens of two worlds (Phil 3:20), with duties and rights in both
these worlds. Jesus called us to be IN, but not OF the world (Jn 17: 11,
16). We do not withdraw from it, but actively engage it where needed.
We are called to let our light so shine before the world that men may see
our good deeds and praise our Father in Heaven (Mt 5:16).

To quote John Stott (Issues Facing Christians Today, 4th ed, 2006, pp 87):
Evangelism is the major instrument of social change, for the gospel
changes people, and changed people can change society….
evangelism takes primacy over social action….

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BUT he says elsewhere in the same book (p 43),
All individual Christians should be politically active in the sense that, as
conscientious citizens, they will vote in elections, inform themselves
about contemporary issues, share in the public debate, and perhaps
write to a newspaper, lobby their Member of Parliament or take part in a
demonstration. Further, some individuals are called by God to give their
lives to political service, in either local or national government.

In Singapore, there appears to be a fourth position taken by some


Christians. This is the belief that things in Singapore are generally run
well; views of Christians are taken into consideration when policies are
made, though naturally they do not always prevail; the government has
relatively high moral standards, being conservative, competent and
incorrupt; and that Christians are given the constitutional rights of
freedom of belief, practice and propagation. Perhaps they are also
resigned to the fact that they cannot change anything as one person out
of many. Thus Christians accept the status quo since it is “not that bad”
and stay out of politics to focus on Kingdom work. But who is to say that
this happy situation will always be the case - when we know that these
are fallen men operating in a fallen system?

It is argued that most Singaporeans are rather complacent and apathetic


about politics anyway. Christians are just following the crowd. Whether
it is out of apathy, ignorance, indifference, resignation or complacency -
do you think Jesus wants His disciples to blindly follow the crowd? Do
you think Jesus would want Singaporeans to stay out of political
engagement because “things are not that bad”?

c. My Kingdom is not of this world


Some people support their position by quoting Jesus out of context: “My
kingdom is not of this world” (Jn 18:36). What did Jesus mean here? Did
He mean He would have nothing to do with the kingdoms of this wicked
world? Surely not, since He had commanded payment of taxes to the
godless Caesar (Mt 22:16-21); and personally gave Peter money to pay
the Temple tax (Mt 17:24-27) despite saying that as sons of God they did
did not need to. This tax Jesus paid ultimately was disbursed to Judas to
betray Him, yet Jesus did not advocate refusal to pay. Hence He was not
saying, “Disengage” or “Resist”. What He was actually saying in this
passage was to correct Pilate’s perception of His kingship – “I am not an
earthly King that bears swords”. His mission on earth was not political
leadership. That does not mean His disciples were prohibited from
involvement with earthly kingdoms. As a matter of fact, He taught them
to be deeply involved.

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II. What Does It Mean to be Salt and Light?
a. The functions of salt and light
For Jesus said in Mt 5: 13-14 and 16:
You are the salt of the earth. …You are the light of the world. A city on
a hill cannot be hidden….In the same way, let your light shine before
men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in
Heaven. (emphasis mine)

Salt and light have many functions. Let me tell you just a couple of them.
Salt flavours food and retards its decay. Light dispels darkness. It shows
the way and warns about dangers ahead.

How is a Christian to be salt? He must flavour the world he lives and


works in, making it a more pleasant place. He must work to retard the
moral decay that is all around. To do this, he must like salt be deeply
immersed in his environment,

And how is he to be light? He must show up the dark and evil ways of the
world and dispel them. He must serve as a warning beacon, guiding
people away from the rocks of immorality and godlessness that will
destroy them. To do this, he must be in the midst of that darkness.

Salt does not need to be in great amounts to be effective. In fact too much
salt makes food bitter. Light does not need to be very big, bright or
brilliant to be effective. In fact, a tiny light on a hill can be seen far, far
away. Jesus calls us to be salt and light wherever He has put us – in
business or industry, in the office or the factory, in the professions or in
politics. Salt must come out of the salt-shaker to do its work. So the
Christian cannot just stay in church. Light must go as high as it can –
and God does call some Christians to shine in very high places. There is
no such thing as a low profile for a Christian – for a low-profile light is
just not doing its job.

Every sphere of human activity must have the light of God shining on it
and the salt of Christ salting it. If the activity is evil, immoral or illegal,
the light dispels it. The salt must season it with grace and love. If politics
is a sphere that all Christians stay away from because it is “dirty” – then
how can it ever become clean? And how can we leave such important
jobs, which affect the way we live and work, the way we worship and
serve God – entirely in the hands of those who do not love God, without
trying at least to salt it?

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b. Being political without doing politics
Brothers and sisters, we must let our light shine. Jesus calls us to do that
in Mt 5:16. The Apostle Peter says likewise in 1 Pet 2: 12:
Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you
of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the
day he visits us. (emphasis mine).
Are you a parking warden, a police constable, an infantry private first
class? You are doing your part to keep law and order, to keep us safe
and secure, and your job is one way of preventing our society from
descending into chaos.

Are you a member of the Residents’ Committee, the community centre,


the Inter-racial and Religious Confidence Circle, the condominium
management committee? Are you participating in a Non-governmental
Organisation, the Parent-Teacher Association of your children’s school,
or the staff union? In these places, you are setting the example of a good
life, working to make life more pleasant, more meaningful and better all
round for your family, neighbours and colleagues.

Are you a town councilor, a civil servant, a principal, a manager in a


statutory board or a volunteer in a government committee such as the
Board of a Polytechnic, the Board of Censors, the National
Environmental Agency? In each of these positions of authority, no
matter how little your authority is – you are doing good, placed there by
God to make our world a better place to live in. You are there to be light,
to show up errors and wrongs and to guide us through with better
policies and processes. You may not be high upon a hill, but you are still
useful on top of the lamp-post or lamp-stand or desk or coffee table, or
as a tiny torch in the hands of someone who holds you high.

Or perhaps you write to the newspapers on issues that need a Christian


input, or contribute feedback on how to improve Singapore to the
government’s REACH committee?

And if you do all these things and not realize it, let me tell you – you are
as involved in politics (without carrying a party card) as the guy who
works with a hammer logo or lightning logo. You are being political
without doing politics at all! One person is all you need for these!

c. The political Jesus - in the face of evil and injustice


God is a God of love, mercy and justice (Mic 6:8). He calls His followers
to be emissaries of love, and seekers after mercy and justice. Yet we do
this in humble acknowledgment that we are fallen creatures no more

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righteous than the next man. In this we are but imitators of Christ – who
sought to heal the sick, empower the disenfranchised and liberate the
ones oppressed and imprisoned (Mt 25: 34-36).
His mission was to preach the Good News, and He would not let them
force Him to become King (Jn 6:15). Yet He did not close His eyes to the
wickedness of the leadership. Sometimes He rebuked gently (Jn 8:7).
Many times, however, He condemned and He criticized severely. He
spoke against the Establishment of His time when they went the wrong
way; He was scathing in His criticism (Mt 23:15-33). He condemned the
hypocrisy of the leaders who led the nation astray (Mt 23:2-13). Why else
were they so threatened that they wanted to kill Him?

The question that arises is this: Is Jesus showing us how to engage in


“civil disobedience”? I think not. He was not breaking any law in
criticizing the leaders – which is why they had to create a trumped-up
charge against Him to kill Him.

Speak up against injustice if you need to – but not do it in an obnoxious


way, since we are to season our speech with salt (Col 4:6). Remember
Martin Niemoller who said: “In Germany they came first for the
Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I was not a
Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up
because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and
I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me,
and by that time no one was left to speak up.”

We are always to avoid the use of violence. Jesus eschewed violence most
of the time (eg Mt 26: 51-53). The exception was when He showed His
wrath against the priests and their cronies who had turned the Temple of
God into a place of extortion and crass commercialism (Mt 21: 12-13).
Even Paul and Peter in their opposition to the powers that be did not
resort to violence, but worked within the law and the legal system (Acts
16:37, 22:25, claiming rights as a Roman citizen; 25:11, appeal to
Caesar). Paul’s exhortations, “in your anger do not sin” (Eph 4:26) and
“Do not repay anyone evil for evil…. but overcome evil with good” (Rom
12:17, 21) remains as relevant today as it was in the first century AD.

God continues to call some of us to be the prophets of our time, calling


our world to repentance. He continues to call some of us to speak up
against iniquity, injustice, inhumanity, immorality. He calls both pastor
and politician. Just as with Esther (Es 4:14), who knows that He may just
be calling you into a royal position for such a time as this?

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III. Submission, Not Subordination
a. The purpose of submission - let your light shine
No discussion of the Christian’s role in politics can ignore the Pauline
passage, Romans 13:1-7: Which tells us that we need to submit to the
governing authorities because they are established by God to do good (vv
1, 4), judge right and punish wrong (vv3-4). For these services they are
entitled to collect tax and revenue (ERP included), bear arms, receive
respect and honour (vv6-7).

The Apostle Peter says the same things, but gives another two reasons
for the submission and respect, in 1 Pet 2:12-17: When we do good, as in
being good citizens, we silence those who slander us before men and
before governments (v15). When we do good, men will be drawn to
glorify God (v12).

When Paul and Peter wrote these words, Roman Emperors were not
paragons of virtue. They were blood-thirsty tyrants, persecutors of
Christians, heading an evil and godless empire. They taxed the people
heavily to feed their sinful lives, finance their wars and to suppress their
colonies. There is no hint in these passages, however, that they were
undeserving of respect and taxes just because of that. We who are
Christians have no mandate to dishonour governments we do not agree
with, more so governments which do not even come close to Rome for
sheer wanton wickedness.

Nevertheless, as the lives of Peter and Paul demonstrated (and as


recorded for us in the Book of Acts) – we are called to submission – not
subordination. I will elaborate on this point later.

b. A Christian’s civil obligations


What then are a Christian citizen’s obligations? Let me lay down the
indisputable ones which are directly and unambiguously laid down in
Scripture:

1. Do not curse our rulers, even in our thoughts - Ecc 10:20; Ex 22:28,
quoted by Paul in Acts 23:5.
2. Submit to them, honour them, respect them – which would mean no
slanderous unproved allegations against them either: Rom 13:1; 1 Pet
2: 13,17; Tit 3:1-2
Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be
obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be
peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.
3. Pray for governments, MPs and ministers: 1 Tim 2:1-3

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I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and
thanksgiving be made for everyone— for kings and all those in
authority,….
4. Pay your taxes (development charges, parking coupons, ERP): Mt
17:24-27; 22: 16-21; Rom 13: 6-7.
5. Do what is right, obey the laws, do not rebel – Rom 13:2-3; 1 Pet 2:14.
6. Accept the punishment when we do wrong: Rom 13:4; 1 Pet 2:14

c. A challenge to be involved
Now we come to the debatable part. There is no clear verse in the Bible
that says: “You must participate in party politics.” Nor, “A disciple of
Christ must seek to become a ruler whenever he can.”

I think it is obvious that there were no political parties in the days when
the Bible was being written. There is no way we can find direct
Scriptural guidance on involvement in party politics. On the other hand,
Jesus and His apostles did not seek to overturn the political structures of
the day. Firstly, Jesus knew His time was short. He could only
concentrate on His primary mission – spreading the Good News of God.
Similarly His apostles knew their times were short and their work
massive and urgent. They were called to be ministers of the Gospel, and
they would not be distracted by other demands on their energies.

Nevertheless, they laid down principles which Christians over the


centuries have extrapolated (legitimately) to conduct social reform. The
teaching on human dignity and the equality of slave and freeman led to
the abolition of slavery and inhumane work hours, especially for
children. We associate the names of two British Members of Parliament
for these reforms – Lords Wilberforce and Shaftesbury. The teaching on
loving your neighbour and healing the sick led to the formation of
hospitals and advances in medical care led by Christians. Names like
Florence Nightingale and Joseph Lister pop up here. The story of the
Good Samaritan also led to legal reform – the innovation of negligence
law by Lord Atkin in the British House of Lords. Christian ministers
were in the forefront of the American Independence Movement and the
development of modern democracy.

The problem is this - individual evil can be removed by the


transformation of the heart by the Gospel. Institutional evil – from the
days of Genesis – cannot be so transformed that way. Political and
military weaponry need to be wielded against such evil. Hence God
called Joshua to eradicate the Canaanites by the sword; and Hitler had
to be stopped by more superior guns. An excessive emphasis on using the

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comforting message of the Gospel to transform the individual facing
injustice and oppression leads to the criticism that Karl Marx leveled at
the church – that religion is the opiate which the rulers use to make
sufferers forget their woes. An overdue focus on the Gospel without the
evidence of love as demonstrated by good deeds leads to cynicism against
the message of the Gospel. Faith must be evidenced by good works or it
will be seen as hypocritical and dead.

All of us Christians are commanded to preach the Gospel. Some are


called to be cross-cultural missionaries to do this. Some are called to be
pastors. Some are called to preach and teach in the marketplace and in
their workplaces. Some are called to stay home and bring up godly
families. And some are called to be rulers and administrators, to be
Josephs and Daniels and Nehemiahs for God. Are all missionaries? Are
all pastors? Are all evangelists? Shouldn’t some be legislators and social
reformers?

Perhaps God is calling some of you to take up this challenge. You can
participate in politics in so many ways - as party workers, as party
financiers, and not just as party candidates. There are ore than twenty
political parties in Singapore, and you can even form your own. J B
Jeyaretnam just did. Politics comes in more colours than white. Don’t
wait anymore. Are you waiting for the lightning to strike?

In passing, let me say a word about so-called “Christian politicians” and


“Christian parties”. There is no such thing – just as there are no
Christian barbers, Christian policemen, Christian doctors, Christian
lawyers. I am not a Christian lawyer – because the law I practice is not
from the Bible nor derived much from my faith. But I am a lawyer who
infuses my legal practice with my Christian values and principles.

As they apply the understanding of their faith differently, two politicians


may come out on two different sides of an issue though they are both
Christian. There are sincere and devout Christians in both the
Republican and Democrat parties, in both the Labour and Conservative
parties – who come to different conclusions on, for example, whether the
war in Iraq is necessary; or whether there should be no tax or more tax;
or whether free trade aids or destroys the worker’s livelihood. When
politicians identify their positions as THE Christian one, they give the
world an excuse to throw out the Christian faith together with the
bathwater of their political positions. I will say more on the separation of
State and Religion in a short while. When the world rejects George Bush,

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let us not allow non-Christians to give that as a reason for rejecting
Christ too.

IV. Going the Full Length, Knowing the Limits


a. The separation of State and Religion - A proper understanding
Jesus taught that we should give what belongs to Caesar to Caesar, and
to God what belongs to God (Mt 22: 21). Theologians have traditionally
explained that this defines the two separate worlds we live in; ruled over
by two different sovereigns. It also delineates the separate boundaries of
church and civil government. The government should not interfere in
matters of the church, and vice versa. This is sometimes referred to as the
separation of State and church – or more correctly in our context, State
and Religion.

Ask what this phrase means – and different people will give you different
answers. This is my two cents’ worth.

God created all things, including governments and rulers (Col 1:16).
Hence, all rulers and governments are under God’s sovereignty. For
proper order in a fallen world, God has allowed church and civil
government but required them to be separate – each ruling over its own
sphere of authority. We should not allow any of the following situations,
where either side exceeds its boundaries:

1. The State forbidding Religion, as in some Communist countries.


2. The State prevailing over Religion in matters which are solely the
Religion’s purview (such as form of religious leadership, who the
leaders are, their powers and duties, the form of worship, the conduct
of religious affairs and practice, funding of religion and religious
education etc). This happens in many closed countries.
3. The State recognizing and giving special power, preference or
privilege to Religion, or a particular religion. This happens in many
European countries. The State’s role is only to ensure that all
Religions have a level playing field, vis-à-vis the State itself, or with
the other Religions.
4. The State deferring to Religion or a particular religion in Sate policies
and affairs, or worse, in all matters.
5. The State subordinating itself to the dictates of Religion or a
particular religion.
6. No visible boundaries between Religion and State, such as when
Religion becomes too cosy with the State. This happened in South
Africa during the apartheid era and in Hitler’s Germany. Religious
leaders, particularly, should not partake in the political fray as

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religious leaders – only as private citizens like every one else. This
does not prevent the pastor, however, from enumerating biblical
principles meant to guide his congregants on the issues at hand, even
if these may impinge on the political.
7. Religion abolishing the State – a supposed theocracy, as in Iran.

Through out history, whenever these boundaries have not been drawn
between the church and the state, six things happen (sometimes all at
once): tyranny; injustice; persecution; discrimination and bigotry;
nominal Christians and a Church that does not honour God.

b. Render to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s


At the micro, or individual level, what does this separation mean? Let
me give another two cents worth. In these days of 7% inflation, maybe
two cents won’t go very far. Here it is for all its worth.

Christians as individuals have no right to rebel against the government,


whether with or without violence. They are to submit to the authority
God has placed over them. Even godless governments are capable of
discerning between right and wrong, and do keep law and order. The
peace of the Romans, Pax Romana, brought trade, technology and
knowledge – and thus prosperity - to many parts of the world. Rome
even traded with China along the Silk Route.

Christian submission to government is not dependent on whether the


government is godly or secular. Throughout the Bible, there are
numerous examples of God’s people serving idolatrous and even evil
kings. Godly people such as Joseph, Daniel, Esther, Nehemiah, Obadiah
in the Old Testament. And in the New Testament - Joseph of Arimathea,
Nicodemus, Erastus (Rom 16:24), Caesar’s household (Phil 4:22), and
Sergius Paulus, ProConsul of Cyprus (Acts 13: 7, 12).

Submission is given even when respect and honour are no longer due –
say because of incompetence, corruption, or individual immorality of the
leaders. A Christian can thus give honour and respect to the office of, say,
President even when the office-holder is a promiscuous philanderer
called Bill Clinton. But submission does not mean subordination.

The Christian cannot sit quietly by when the State usurps the authority
of God, or orders him to do things which God forbids (Dan 3:18), or
prevents Christians from following God and His commandments (Acts
4:18). At that time, he can object; he can refuse to obey; he can even
resist. In Acts 4: 18-20, when Peter and John were asked not to preach

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the Gospel, they answered: "Judge for yourselves whether it is right in
God's sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking
about what we have seen and heard. (vv19-20)" In Acts 5:29, Peter and
the apostles were again reminded not to preach the Gospel. Their answer
was: “We must obey God rather than men!”

The early Christians willingly went to the lions because they refuse to
worship Caesar as divine. Persecuted Christians during the Cultural
Revolution of China willingly submitted themselves to humiliation and
torture, imprisonment and even death - rather than recant. Christian
martyrs through the centuries have willingly suffered and died rather
than disobey God. Christians have also willingly braved the wrath of
princes to shelter and protect the refugee, the weak and the sick.
Examples abound from the Second World War as Hitler’s troops
rampaged through Europe in his vain attempt to eradicate the Jews.
Corrie ten Boom was one such Christian who went the full length for
Christ.

c. The limits of civil obedience and civil disobedience


The Christian thus obeys the laws of the land. In doing so, he brings
honour to the Christian community (1 Pet 2:15) and glory to God (1 Pet
2:12). His civil obedience is limited by the principle laid down in Acts
5:29 – obey God rather than men when there is a clear conflict. Here we
must note – we cannot apply the principle to every case of disagreement
with the government, because not every case of disagreement relates to
the government’s usurping of God’s sovereignty.

What then of civil disobedience? Is the Christian to be involved in this?


Before I give you my answer, let me get us on the same page with regard
to the meaning of the two words. When civil disobedience is mentioned,
the name of Martin Luther King often comes to mind. King fought to
remove racial discrimination against the blacks in America. His
followers refused to obey laws segregating blacks and whites. They
gathered in large numbers to demonstrate against these laws. In all these,
they never resorted to violence – even when police forces used violence to
subdue the demonstrators and law breakers. “Civil disobedience” then
refers to a non-violent and deliberate breaking of what are seen as unjust
laws.

I want to tread carefully here in order that I may not be misunderstood.


I know there is an opposition politician who professes to be Christian,
who uses this as a key strategy of his political activities. The issue may

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take another hour to debate, but let me state my advice for those who
participate in the politeia. If you want to be heard, you must:

1. Speak from knowledge and well-evidenced facts, as well-researched as


possible, and not from ignorance. Nobody wants to hear the rantings
of an ignorant man. On the contrary, the more often you are right,
the more you will be consulted in future.
2. Do not speak in a shrill, strident voice. Nobody gets heard because
they speak more shrilly or loudly. Indeed the opposite happens. There
is no wisdom in needlessly alienating people by offensive words and
behaviour.
3. Do not take aggressive stances. Speak respectfully and gently. Seek to
persuade rather than use nasty rhetoric or dogmatic biblical
pronouncements not accepted by your opponents (which opponents
may even include Christians who interpret the Bible verses differently
from you).
4. Offer sound ideas, take reasoned and reasonable positions that are
defensible and justifiable. When you are able to do so, there is nothing
to fear: Neither ridicule, rejection nor retribution.
5. Work within the system, rather than break the law. It may take a
longer time to change – but change will come. Slavery took 1900 years
to be abolished. And Wilberforce took nearly half a century to
convince the British Parliament. If you cannot be patient, don’t go
into politics.

Here I want to quote Charles Colson, who obviously speaks from


experience:
“ …there are legal means available to express political opposition: we
can picket (in Singapore only with a permit)…we can picket, petition,
vote, organize, advertise, or pressure political officials. Is it right to
abandon our respect for the rule of law, the foundation of public order,
simply to make statements that could be made legally in other
forums?....breaking laws to make a dramatic point is the ultimate logic
of terrorism, not civil disobedience.” (Kingdoms in Conflict, 1987,
p250) (emphasis mine)
6. Don’t be self-righteous. In fact be humble – you may not be right
after all.
7. There is no sense in self-inflicted martyrdom, which results in
mockery. Move away from battles you cannot yet win, and live to
fight another day.
8. Be truthful and honest – always.

If this works for the secular politician, all the more it should be the
strategy of the politician who lives by Biblical standards, and as witness I

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cite these passages which you can refer to in your own time – Jn 7:18,
Rom 12:3, 1 Cor 4:12-13, 2 Cor 13:1, Col 4:6, Tit 3:1-2, Rom 12:17-19,
Eph 4:25, Heb 13:17, 1 Pet 2:20, 23 (and many other verses already cited
above).

V. The Rest Is Up To You


I will now conclude.
a. What would Jesus do? I hope I have given you some answers. More
importantly…
b. What would Jesus have you do?
c. When are you doing it?

The rest is up to you. From this moment forth. Go – and seek the welfare
of your city, as the Lord commands in Jer 29:4-7:

This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I
carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “… seek the peace and
prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the
LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper." (emphasis
mine)

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