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06.12.2019

The Significant Insignificance of Politics

‘Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and your dominion endures through all generations.’
Psalm 145:13

 

Or, as Eugene Peterson puts it in The Message, ‘you never get voted out of office’.

At a time of political fixation and turmoil it’s important to hear those words from Psalm 145. For too many, I fear, politics has become an idol. You can tell when something has become an idol when we sacrifice values like truth, civility, and the rule of law to it. I am regularly encouraging Christians to be deeply involved in the political tribes, but we must not lose our identity to those tribes. Our primary identity is in Christ alone.

It’s easy for the authority of God articulated in Psalm 145 to be lost on those of us living in 21st-century democracies. In our country, there is usually a long journey from something being just an idea to becoming the law of the land. Research is commissioned to investigate an issue. Then the party must be convinced. It’s proposed in a manifesto; legislation is drafted and then presented and debated through first, second, and perhaps even third readings in the House of Commons. It is scrutinised by committees and the House of Lords. Only then is it passed into law.

It is an arduous – though wise and necessary – process. But it is very different from the One who speaks with royal authority, whose word becomes law as soon as he has said it. Christians have this glorious assurance – especially at times of political crisis – that our God, the true King who will ‘never get voted out of office’, is the ultimate authority. But that’s not an excuse for inactivity, or silence.

It’s this God who calls us to be ‘a royal priesthood, a holy nation’ (1 Peter 2:9). I want many more Christians to stand for election, but we don’t need to be elected to speak and act with his authority, modelling the love, peace, truth, and healing that our nation so badly needs at this time. As Peter goes on to make clear in his letter, this royal authority is to be exercised in the light of the cross-shaped pattern of Jesus’ own service, thus looking very different to autocratic edict, but it is to be exercised nonetheless.

We are not prisoners of our political culture. In his authority, we can shape it.

 

Andy Flannagan
Andy is Executive Director of Christians in Politics, and has also recently written a song about reconciliation across political divides: http://bit.ly/reconciledvid 

Comments

  1. I’ve been receiving LICC emails forcover 10 years now. They help to keep me sane in our crazy world, and focused on what is really important. (that should be WHO is really important. Bless you. Thanks

    By John Palmer - 6th December 2019
  2. Thanks Andy. I agree with all you say. I’d also add that we need play our part to bring love and compassion back to a nation that is seeing a surge in hate and mistrust. We do need to be wise and informed about the ways that the mainstream and social media are being manipulated. We also need to care about Truth. I believe my God does. Without it, the very fabric of society is torn, as we increasing cannot trust what we hear and read. There was a church in 1930s Germany. I pray for God’s Church today, that we find ways to discuss these things. I’m concerned we don’t bury our heads in the sand and become less and less relevant, when I think we have things to say in God’s name.

    By Jon Brewer - 6th December 2019
  3. Great piece, thanks

    By Bruce Gulland - 6th December 2019
  4. Thank you. It is lovely to read (and listen to your song) that grace and reconciling love is a powerful voice in these turbulent political times.
    I offer another small response in the form of a letter. Please feel free to Pass it Forward if helpful.

    Thank you Europe.
    It seems that we are now on a trajectory to leave the EU from which there is little or no chance of us escaping. The strident rhetoric and passion of so many on both sides that has fuelled the argument have drowned out the voice of our european (many British) friends, colleagues and neighbours who are deeply bewildered and genuinely hurt by all this.

    In the UK it has been vanishingly rare to see or hear public acknowledgement of the many aspects of our national life that have been influenced (and indeed paid for) by the EU. Some are ‘soft’, contributing to our society, our ways of thinking and our values. Others are tangible. We’ve all heard of the mythical £350m a week Brexit dividend for the National Health Service, but few are aware of the billions from EU funds that have supported deprived regions and funded our national infrastructure.

    Whether ‘soft’ of tangible, let me share a few that I am personally grateful about:
    1. Respecting and delighting in one another’s cultural differences. Thank you for diversity in language, cuisine, the arts, education. We (the British) are culturally closer to Europeans than those in other continents even where we share the same language.
    2. Collaboration in scientific break through (ESA, SCERN & many other less high profile institutions). Thank you that many discoveries have been achieved by sharing in cutting edge research.
    3. Sharing ideas, passions, foods, faiths, peace. Thank you for being able to bring together different perspectives and how you have enriched us as a nation.
    4. Peace. Wasn’t it from a shared commitment and imperative for peace that the European partnership was born? Thank you for these 40+ years of peace in our time.
    5. Your laws. Yes…EU LAWS. Now we find ourselves considering which legislation to keep, it appears that many industries approve of the EU laws governing their businesses.
    6. Financial support for much needed infrastructure, regeneration and projects. I wonder how many bridges and link roads we drive over, urban renewal, tangible projects that have been carefully considered, planned and funded by Europe.
    Let me conclude by saying thank you.
    My voice may be quieter and is certainly less strident than those of my compatriots. But I do want my (not so lonely) voice of thanks to be heard in Europe.
    Thank you Europe!
    Caroline Allen

    By Caroline Allen - 7th January 2020

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