As we head towards the General Election in May (as well as numerous local elections) I recall one of the many questions I have asked God since my career in Green Party politics came to a rapid end in 2012 when I was expelled from the UK's first Green administration:
How come so many Christians were elected to serve in Westminster in 2010 across all the parties and yet, instead of transforming our government, so very few seem to have stayed the course and remained faithful to biblical truth?
Another question that I continue to ask God as my term of office as an independent councillor draws to a close is this:
If you are really changing the political landscape in our nation what will that look like in this election year, and what should those Christians who you have called into government do differently?
As one who has had a niggling desire for many years to see a righteous government rule in the 'Mother of Parliaments', I ought not to have been so surprised to find myself in a governmental position – albeit locally – in May 2011. My sense of justice finally had an avenue of expression and who better to exercise it with than my Green compatriots who won my allegiance by their exceptionally relational and generous spirit, as well as their unrivalled concern for the environment.
My singular stance against same-sex marriage the following year, however, immediately exposed what else was lurking behind the Green political label that boasts of the absence of a party whip – I was summarily dismissed from the Greens for not toeing the invisible party line on their version of equality and tolerance. And so I automatically became independent of any political party and totally dependent, as I always should have been, on God.
The unpleasant – yet at the same time strangely exhilarating – experience of my expulsion as a result of exercising my Christian conscience eventually provided me with an answer to my first question. When God calls us to the sphere he marks out for us (sometimes experienced by that "niggling desire") we can so easily assume a limited view of that sphere as well as his intentions for us when we enter it.
So when the many new Christian MPs entered Westminster five years ago it is easy to imagine that most thought they had arrived at that high place in which they would faithfully serve God, and from which they should never be moved. But how many of them are still there because they compromised the truth on the more crucial issues fearing reprisals if they rebelled against the party position? Is it possible that God called some to take office just for the sake of one particular issue and to make a stand on that even at the risk of expulsion? In the end, that was exactly my own experience and, by God's grace, it has had more impact than had I compromised in order to remain part of a Green administration that has since then all but collapsed.
The public reaction to this, and the reaction of council officers and colleagues from the other parties, was incredibly favourable towards me personally. It would seem that as an unprecedented level of discontent and disillusionment is expressed about politicians, what we must offer as we stand for public office isn't a vague Christian interpretation of any one party's manifesto, but personal character. That is what people seem to look for and to notice almost irrespective of the issue.
My conviction is that this is what God is looking for too.
No matter what the political landscape looks like on 8 May, his call to those who enter office nationally and locally is to walk with him daily, hear what he is saying and speak his truth as he enables in the council chambers and the Houses of Parliament, and he will do the rest. That is the authority he gives us in whatever sphere of influence we move in.
My great hope is that more Christians will have revelation about being called into government rather than into politics, and about their God-given governmental authority which far outweighs that of any man-made political party. I continually remind myself that the battle for righteous government is spiritual not political, so being an independent candidate does not diminish my effectiveness but rather enhances my freedom to choose how to align myself, and to cast my vote on every issue in response to God's will and purpose and not that of any party.
That is righteous government and God says that it exalts a nation.
Christina Summers is an independent councillor for Brighton & Hove.