The Problem with Politicians

THIS IS NOT a rant about those who have taken on the responsibility of government. It is a serious analysis of the serious question—why do they so often let us down?

In 1887 the British Lord Acton wrote a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in which he coined a famous phrase: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.”

You may or may not sympathise with that view. But let’s see what the Bible has to say on the subject.

People Are Unreliable

The first problem which the Bible identifies is that politicians, like all other people, are mortal—they are limited in their ability, and they only last for a short time.

Do not put your trust in princes, nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help. His spirit departs, he returns to his earth; in that very day his plans perish (Psalm 146:3–4).

If we look more broadly at what the Bible teaches us about people in general we learn some disturbing things:

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9).

This is an evil in all that is done under the sun: that one thing happens to all. Truly the hearts of the sons of men are full of evil; madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead (Ecclesiastes 9:3).

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans  3:23).

The Bible does not flatter people by pretending they’re better than they are. It tells us how God sees us. He made us and He knows us.

Why Are We Like This?

So we have to ask, ‘why are we like this if God made us?’ ‘Did God make a mistake?’ These are quite reasonable questions. However the Bible shows us that the fault does not lie with God. It lies with us and has its origins with the first man, Adam. Adam was made “very good” (Genesis 1:31). However he disobeyed God’s command and ate of the tree that God had told him not to eat.

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate (Genesis 3:6).

Genesis chapter 3 goes on to relate how Adam and Eve’s disobedience brought a curse on them and their descendants. A later comment upon their failure and the consequences that followed is “… through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12).

Adam’s descendants became worse and worse, until “the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5).

One Good Man

What we have seen so far might lead us to feel that we are in a hopeless situation. However the Bible shows us that, despite our condition, there is hope for us.

We have seen already that the reason why we cannot rely on man is because, as the Psalmist put it, “his spirit departs, he returns to his earth; in that very day his plans perish” (Psalm 146:4). We need to find a man who does not die. That man is the Lord Jesus Christ, whom God raised from the dead never to die again.

Jesus, whilst being one of Adam’s descendants, “committed no sin” (1 Peter 2:22), so “God raised him from the dead” (Acts 13:30) to everlasting life.

And “Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over him” (Romans 6:9).

The resurrection of Jesus is the guarantee that those who faithfully follow him will also rise from the dead to die no more. In 1 Corinthians 15, a chapter which speaks at length about the resurrection of believers, the Apostle Paul says “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive”

(1 Corinthians  15:22).

Why We Can Trust Jesus Christ

People enter politics (usually) because they want to make a difference and do good in the world. However, with even the best of intentions they are limited in what they can achieve. They are powerless to address the main problem—which is that we are all by nature sinners, and we are therefore going to die.

Jesus Christ died to save us from our sins. And the Bible contains the promise that when he returns to earth he will form a government which will address all its problems—including the problem of sin and death.

Peter L Forbes