Political Leadership in a Changing World
In 1 Samuel 8: 4-24, Israel faces a crucial moment of institutional change. The rule of the Judges comes to an end, and the people desire a king to lead them (5-6). In so doing, they reject the leadership of Samuel and, above all, God (7). Their motivation in wanting a king stems from their desire to 'be like other nations' and have a king govern them and fight their battles (20). In obedience to God, Samuel presents a devastating critic of kingship, leaving the people in no doubt as to the implication of choosing a king (10-18). In Samuel's mind, Israel is making the wrong decision, for by choosing a king, they are rejecting God's rule over them and failing to weigh up the consequences of temporal kingship.
We also live in a changing world: Covid 19 has devastated the world; Western democracy is under serious threat; new democracies struggle to flourish; Myanmar is under military rule; China is exerting increasing political influence; nationalism and fascism are on the rise; Russia is on the rampage in Ukraine; the UK is on the brink of disintegration; hard-line dictatorships flourish, and multinational corporations exert enormous political influence. All this raises many important questions: How will we restructure our relationship with those who hold power in a post-Covid world? What place does God have in the public arena? Why must power be always called to account? What role should faith communities play in holding power brokers accountable? Who are the kingmakers today? Who do we choose as our political leaders? What role do tech giants and media influencers play in our world? How are they shaping governments and also our freedoms?
There are no easy answers to such complex questions. Individually and corporately, as the people of God, we must seriously grapple with such issues, seeking the mind of Christ and the common good. In responding to diverse problems, we must react graciously and lovingly toward all who disagree with the political positions we hold.
May your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.