Dear friends

In a world with so many kinds of wickedness, cruelty, injustice and violence it is difficult for us to imagine a government wise and good enough to always do what is right. What would that be like? We can be sure that such a government would not be well-liked by everyone all of the time. Doing what is right is not the same as doing what is popular.

In western democracies today many feel that there is a crisis of good government. At least part of the problem is that citizens seem to think that what we would like our governments to do is what they ought to do all of the time. Consequently many of our politicians respond to this thinking, governing by opinion polls and focus groups rather than clear convictions about what is right. The result is government for the short-term self-interest of various groups (always with an eye to the next election), rather than government that is wise and good.

Mind you, it is all very well to criticize and complain. Those of us who do not bear the responsibilities of government rarely appreciate the difficulties involved. It is easy to be cynical without understanding the complexity of determining, let alone accomplishing, “what is right.” The best of intentions do not necessarily lead to good government. Indeed history has taught us to be wary of governments with very clear ideas about “what is right.” We call it “ideological”—a term with thoroughly negative connotations in modern politics. It is far from obvious what good government would look like in communities that have long lost the ability to agree about “what is right.”

Our disappointment with human governments should help us to see the wonder of God’s promise of a kingdom of righteousness, peace and joy (Romans 14:17). The failure of human rulers helps us to see our need for One who is not only good and powerful, but also wise—wise enough to know and to do what is right.

The Bible teaches us that God has promised such a king and such a kingdom. While this promise has roots that go back to the dawn of time, it came to clear expression during the reign of King David: a son of David will reign over a kingdom that God will establish “forever” (2 Samuel 7:12-16). The New Testament teaches us that Jesus Christ is the promised son of David (Matthew 1:1)—declared to be such by his resurrection from the dead (Romans 1:4). The Bible calls this astonishing news “the gospel of God” (see, for example, Mark 1:14; Romans 1:1; 1 Thessalonians 2:2, 8, 9).

All authority in heaven and earth has been given to the risen and ascended Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18). Those who submit to his rule now taste the goodness of his kingdom as we look forward to the day when his reign will be revealed in all its glory and goodness (Colossians 3:4).

Good government at last!

Your brother in the Lord Jesus Christ
John Woodhouse