This must-read homily reveals a down-to-earth and factual reality of what constitutes our christian responsibilities in the landscape of politics in Fiji today.
"Together with me are all the faithful ministerial brethren within Fiji and abroad join me in sending this gospel message to all God’s people in our beloved country, particularly the Methodist Church Hierarchies.
May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.
Two Biblical Texts to be considered :
Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are CAESAR’s, and to God the things that are God’s”.
There were great voices from heaven saying: “The Kingdom of this world has become the Kingdom of His Christ and He shall reign for ever and ever.”
Reasons why we Christians should be involved in Politics in Fiji and the world at large ......
1. In the first place “Our Christian Involvement in Politics is inescapable”.
The Bible is from cover to cover, full of politics. The Old Testament is about the call of a Nation, a people and a community.
- The books of “Law” give the standard of personal morality, social justice, but they also present the code which regulates the life of the community; this is politics.
- When Prophet Amos speaks violently against the rich who sell the poor for a pair of shoes; this is politics.
- When Prophet Isaiah tells Ahaz the King of Judea to stand up to Assyria’s threat; that is politics.
- When Prophet Jeremiah pleads with the King of his day to come to terms with the Chaldeans (Jer. 21:4, 9) that is politics.
- When Prophet of the Exile declares that God is “not” interested in their “fasting” but in “economic justice”, that is politics.
So too the “New Testament” is about the “New Israel”. The natural expression of the first fellowship under the power of the Holy Spirit was to share all things in common - this is a political act.
The Roman Empire did not persecute the Christians out of aimless cruelty; they persecuted because they were “politically dangerous”; and in the midst of a bitter persecution the seer who wrote the last book of the Bible (Revelation) asserted that the “kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ”. This too is politics.
2." Our Master and Lord Jesus Christ lived His life, proclaimed His Gospel , and died his death in a political context”.
This was the context of what we today would call a colonialist situation.
When Jesus told his disciples to love their enemies, He was not merely meaning anyone they happened to hate or dislike. He was meaning the “Roman oppressors”.
The context shows this.
The Roman soldier had the right to force a Jew to carry his pack for one mile. The Messiah was expected to be the leader of a nationalist movement of liberation.
We still call Jesus the Messiah, for that is what “Christ” means. “He was – He is – the Messiah.” But He saw clearly and proclaimed that the way of violence was self-doomed. But it was a way of changing the world none the less. The political leaders of the Jews and the representatives of Rome would not have bothered to crucify a harmless Carpenter of Nazareth.
They crucified Jesus because He was politically dangerous.
3. The work of Christ in our time has become more and more political , not less.
Christians have always seen the enlightenment of the mind as part of our mission. We know that the provision of education in schools and college and universities, and of adequate scholarships, is a political issue. Christians have tried across the ages to follow our Master’s work of healing. The provisions of efficiently equipped modern hospitals, of research facilities into unsolved medical problems, of a national health service, depend upon political action.
Our Master proclaimed in solemn words his judgment upon us if we fail to feed the hungry. Two thirds or may be more of the people of the world are hungry. We cannot meet their hunger by personal alms giving alone. If we are to obey our Master we are committed to political action.
4. In any event, we cannot evade political responsibility.
The act of abstention from politics is itself a political act.
If we do not proclaim God’s way in politics, then we are responsible for what happens.
Politics is simply the art of living together, the ordering of the life of the community.
No community can exist without politics.
It is for us to see that they are better rather than worse. If politics has got into the hands of the wrong people and has become a dirty business, it is “our job to clean it up”.
If politics is an unclean refuse or a “muckheap”, the Christian Church must be a “muckrake”. We do not live to ourselves.
We must not be afraid of soiling our hands. If Jesus, whose body on earth we are, had been afraid to soil his hands, the “Word” would never have become “Man”.
WHERE THEN IS OUR CHRISTIAN CALLING IN A WORLD OF POLITICS ?
It is there, in the New Testament, alike the words of Jesus and of Paul and the practice of the early Christians. It is threefold.
1. We shall fulfill the normal obligations of citizens. We shall render to Caesar the things that are Caesars.
2. We shall go beyond the normal obligation of a citizen; we shall be known for our enthusiasm, our willingness to do more; we shall always be “going the second mile”.
3. If the demand of the community conflict with the “calling” which God lays upon us and the way of our Master and Lord Jesus Christ, then we shall proclaim “a clear, fearless, uncompromising No!”
We shall render to God the things that are God’s.
This means that we shall make our voice heard in politics.
This will for many, perhaps most mean being active members of whatever political party to which they belong. Active, but never uncritical.
We will not be afraid to criticize the evil in our own party or honor the good in others, and we will refuse to descend to coarse reviling in abusive words or unscrupulous campaigning.
Others may not feel able to join a particular political party.They will rather work through voluntary organizations which cut across party lines, such as the “United Nation Associations”. In any case, they will seek to be accurately informed and politically efficient; there are would few things as useless as inefficient goodwill.
They will stand constantly for the things that are good for economic and political justice, for peace and disarmament among the nations, for health and food and education, for an ordered society and for the redemptive treatment of law-breakers, for the independence of the judiciary from political pressure, for the right priorities when the resources of the community are limited.
They will refuse to use wrongful means to these ends. It may cost them power, but it may not.
Integrity can be a political asset.
We are sometimes so frightened that “righteousness” may lose that we forget that “righteousness” may win.
It may seem easy to bribe an electorate, but the people soon find that the man who bribes then goes on to refill his purse from public money, and come to prefer the “man they can trust”.
We must not, and dare not deviate from the way of God for the sake of power, wealth or self aggrandizement.
God wants our witness; if it leads us there; accept it as His will also.
There could be no greater disaster than to identify Christianity, as some would do, with a political theory which happens to attract us for the time, and will finally go the way of every other.
It is indeed one of the first of Christian duties to build up a social order in which the demands of Jesus will be more capable of fulfillment, but He has prescribed for us no definite physical plan which we must follow.
His one concern was with the great moral principle and spiritual interests, and the human organization which He approves is that which will secure them best under the given requirements of our own country and time.
As Jesus concern is always with the inward principles of man’s life, not with the framework, He demanded that on the larger as on the narrower scale, men must act justly and mercifully and respect the worth of each individual soul; but He never tried to prescribe the manner in which this demand should be realized.
Men must here decide for themselves, in view of the special contingencies which they have to reckon with from time to time.
It was never the design of Jesus to recognize the world’s life according to a set scheme which should be complete in all its details and incapable to any change.
Jesus aimed at creating in men the “new will” in virtue of which they would be able henceforth to make their own laws.
May God Bless Fiji"
Rev J.F Koroi