I recall some years ago the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, told reporters, "We cannot wait for politicians to sort things out, we have got to make a difference ourselves", at the conclusion of a two-day conference at Lambeth Palace on Christians in the Holy Land.
I concur. Although Christian leaders and politicians both have very important jobs in our Western democratic society, they are quite different jobs. Any Christian movement that waited for politicians to "sort things out" in any random situation would be in an uphill battle in any mission endeavour.
Christian Mission has always depended upon the Spirit of God moving in someone's heart with a challenge to take the Salvation message of Jesus Christ to where-ever even the four quarters of the earth.
Politicians are necessarily followers of public opinion and social change, not necessarily at the forefront. Think about how and why politicians (in Western democracies) are elected: it is because they embody the ideals and hopes of the majority of their electorates.
Now, I admits, once they are elected we, the electorate, expect them to show some leadership in society even if we didn't personally vote for them. But they are not expected to make policy decisions for our religious life (again, referring only to the Western democratic traditions that Tronson is familiar with).
I note, this system seems to work well. On many occasions, the public has elected one type of leader in times of war. For example, during World War II in England, Chamberlain (of the famous phrase 'peace in our time') stood aside in favour of the hawkish Churchill; and Menzies lost his majority on the floor of the Parliament in favour of Curtin in Australia. Once there was peace again, Churchill in England was overturned and the gentle Atlee became Prime Minister while back in Australia, Menzies was voted back in and retained the position for 23 years of peaceful prosperity.
However, the essence of Christian mission and Christian leadership is not at all like this. Christian leadership is a Gift from God that is all-encompassing. And Christian missionaries go forth to preach the Gospel in all countries, and are not dependent on politicians or political systems either in their home country or that of the Mission. The Great Commission in Matthew 28 verse 19 states: "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."
In this text and many similar examples from Scripture, it was not politicians that "sorted things out" as a priory for evangelism. And it is not the politicians' job to do so. It was the Christians in the Antiochian church that sent Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey. Acts 13 verses 3 and 4: "And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them, departed unto Seleucia and from thence they sailed to Cyprus ..."
The Spirit of the Lord directs such paths and it is to this that the Christian has commitment, not waiting for a politician to "sort things out".
And the Spirit of the Lord is universal. He does not depend on elections, He does not depend on a benign Western democracy. He is always unchanging. The message of Christian Leaders and Christian Missionaries is thus also unchanging and not dependent on the frailties of secular or political leaders.
In fact, politicians and Christians are sometimes at opposite poles. For example, during World War II many Christians put themselves at great risk by opposing the Nazi policies. Latin America in the 1970s innumerable Christians were murdered by the Governments of the day as the missionaries revealed the multi-lateral corruption of those in power. There have been more recent examples in the former Communist Russia, in China and in Indonesia and elsewhere.
Politicians of all persuasions are engulfed in a world of their own, which is ensnared by issues that might affect the next election.
Christian missions are dealing with the winning of souls for Salvation in Jesus Christ.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children. Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html
Dr Mark Tronson - a 4 min video
Chairman – Well-Being Australia
Baptist Minister 44 years
- 1984 - Australian cricket team chaplain 17 years (Ret)
- 2001 - Life After Cricket (18 years Ret)
- 2009 - Olympic Ministry Medal – presented by Carl Lewis
- 2019 - The Gutenberg - (ARPA Christian Media premier award)
Gutenberg video - 2min 14sec
Married to Delma for 44 years with 4 children and 5 grand children