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Godly Governance

“…the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves.” (Luke 22:26).

This week South Africans had a national holiday to remind its citizens about the sacrifices that accompanied the struggle for a democratic system of governance. Democracy is understood to be a fragile gift, won at great cost.

This does not mean that democracy is God’s form of government. Nowhere in the Bible do people vote for their leaders, or do leaders serve for designated terms. Even Jesus never promoted democracy. Jesus never asked his disciples, “Let us vote for whether we go to Jerusalem or not”. Democracy is one form of human governance, among many. Winston Churchill is famous for noting “that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried”.  What is Godly about democracy is the insistence that each citizen of a country can choose the leaders who serve the people. Jesus teaches that all leaders are raised up to serve people, and he called King Herod “that fox” for his failure in leadership.

Democracy is worth protecting. Any leader who seeks absolute power without the responsibility of service is to be resisted. And the right to vote for a leader is the tool that protects the people. I celebrate the democratic governance of my home country, and the democracy embedded in the ethos of the United States of America (where I currently live). I also celebrate the democracy of Ukraine, and believe that this form of governance is preferable to being ruled by the needs and aspirations of a more powerful neighbor. Let us pray for Ukraine – for those other countries where the powerful seek to dominate the will of the people: I think of countries such as Afghanistan, Palestine, Yemen, and Myanmar (amongst others).  Let us pray for, and support, leaders who serve humanity with justice and compassion.

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“To comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable” Finley Peter Dunne (1867–1936)