The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity

Never miss a thing!


All bets are off

They say a week is a long time in politics. 

First, allegations emerged that one of the prime minister’s closest aides placed a £100 bet on a July polling day.  

Now those under investigation include several Conservative MPs, the party’s director of campaigning, and its chief data officer. Elsewhere, Labour suspended a candidate who is being investigated for betting against himself in the election. 

Politicians have long had a reputation for lacking integrity, but it feels public trust is currently at an all-time low. 

A 2021 survey asked what characteristics in leaders mattered most to the UK public. Overwhelmingly, respondents said they wanted politicians with integrity, and leaders who operate within the rules, over and above delivering outcomes.  

The word ‘integrity’ literally means ‘intact’, or a state of wholeness. Integrity means behaving the same, irrespective of who is watching (and even when no-one is).  

The gospels point to Jesus as the perfect model of integrity, whose actions always match his words, who does not prefer the powerful to the powerless.  

When we strive to show others our best front, each of us risks prioritising selfish gain, behaving poorly in relationships, and attempting to hide our failures.  

Such actions often lie at the basis of political scandal – and the spotlight of celebrity and the temptations of power magnify the damage. Power gives a pre-existing condition of selfishness the opportunity and impetus to appear in more obvious, forceful, and destructive ways.  

So often we see those in the public eye failing to live with integrity. So often we ourselves fail too.  

God asks us to resist power-grasping instincts and instead ‘do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit’. We’re to look to ‘the interests of others’ to reflect Jesus, who was ‘in very nature God’ and yet ‘he made himself nothing…’ (Philippians 2:3-8). In Jesus we have the ultimate model, and, through his Spirit, the power to be transformed. 

Thank God for a Saviour who shows us a radically better way.   

As the election approaches, we can value and demand integrity in the public servants we give our careful vote. We can pray for those standing for public office and working in government. We can consider whether some kind of local or national political involvement might be something God is calling us into.   

And, in our own everyday contexts, let’s consider how we too might choose to resist selfish ambition to serve others with integrity. 

Katherine Osborne
Katherine works in communications for the Civil Service and helps co-ordinate Christians in Government 20s, a group for young Civil Servants to gather as a community to be supported, encouraged, and equipped in their faith. 

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *