As we approach the coming general election here in Aotearoa New Zealand, it will be hard to avoid debate. There will be official televised debates between the party leaders, and there will certainly be unofficial, thankfully un-televised debates, around the coffee machines.
Debates can be ugly, and people can be unusually rude when the pressure is on and the other people are being provocative. Interestingly, on the subject of worldly leadership like Kings, authorities and governors, the Bible commands us to “show proper respect to everyone.” We’re also commanded to ‘Love the community of believers, to fear or revere God, and to honour the King.’ Notice the difference: we revere God and we respect all people.
As we engage in our political conversations and possibly a heated debate or two, let’s be careful to make it ‘respectful dialogue.’ To respect means to recognise the value of other people, and the biblical perspective, according to 1 Peter 2:17, is to remember that all people are valuable and to be honoured because they are creatures of God (regardless of their political ideas). It’s easy to value people who we agree with, who we like, but Christians are called to be distinctly Christlike by showing honour and respect across the board, to all people! And that respect should come out in the way we debate our differences.
In making up our minds about who to vote for, it might be helpful to listen for the respect the candidates show for other people. We don’t really expect them to respect their opposition’s politics, but they can respect the people. This goes for them and us.
God bless New Zealand,