Election day in the United Kingdom is over, and we are all waiting, intrigued to see what the result will be. And it has left me delighted with the glorious fact that I don’t live in a democracy.
Surely never before in this country have Christians had such a terrible choice to make in deciding who to vote for. Between them the parties on offer all seem to have policies which in former years Christians would have considered to be uncrossable red lines, things which make it quite impossible for Christians to vote for them. Of the various possible outcomes it seems inconceivable that we will have a government whose legislative priorities will bear even the remotest resemblance to what Scripture would call just government.
Which is why I am so pleased that I do not live in a democracy. Yes, of course, the minor landmass where I live will be governed for a tiny fragment of world history by a group of people who bear some relationships to the preferences expressed on a single day by a significant proportion of the population.
But as Christians we know that God ‘raised him (Jesus) from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet…’
At the very core of the Christian gospel is the fact that Jesus Christ is Lord. He came to earth proclaiming the arrival of the Kingdom of God, and he himself is the King. He has always been the eternal Son of God, fully equal with the Father; in his incarnation he became also a man, and as that man he has been crowned by God as King for ever and ever.
Christianity is indisputably and centrally monarchist. Not that Christians must support national monarchs in their individual countries (though I am pleased to call myself a loyal subject of Queen Elizabeth); but that the absolute reign of the man Jesus Christ, by the direct appointment of God himself, is at the Christian gospel’s very heart. Jesus is Lord. Jesus is King. All authority and heaven and earth has been given to him. No-one elected him. And we can never vote him out.
Jesus reigns, not by popular mandate, but by appointment of the one true God. (Psalm 2)
Jesus entered his reign, not by persuading people to put a cross on a piece of paper, but by obeying God even to death on the cross. (Philippians 2:8-9)
Jesus rules with perfect righteousness, not with human attempts to define right and wrong without reference to God. (Isaiah 11:4)
Jesus has no need to enter coalitions or barter away manifesto commitments in order to gain adequate votes for his legislative programme. (Revelation 19:15-16)
Jesus’ term of office will never come to an end (Daniel 7:14)
Jesus’ opposition will one day entirely submit to his authority, and the whole earth recognise his reign as the undisputed King (Philippians 2:10-11).
If democracy has given us in Britain several centuries of stability and an environment in which the church has been able to flourish, then let us praise God for it. Whether it will continue to do so we do not know, although we must certainly pray that it will (1 Timothy 2:1-4). But let’s not be either too excited about democracy’s goodness or fearful about its results.
I, along with all Christians, rejoice that through his death and resurrection to God’s right hand Jesus has ensured that we do not, and never will, live in a democracy.