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Sunday, 8 November 2009

Politics and faith!

During the past week, David Cameron, the Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition (a strange nomenclature, when it is really her Government that is being opposed!) gave a full and frank interview to a reporter from the London Evening Standard – as reported in The Times newspaper! (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article6906219.ece).

During the interview, Mr Cameron spoke about his faith, revealing that he waited until he was 18 in order to be confirmed (the Episcopal equivalent of ‘joining the church’/’coming into full membership of a congregation/ fellowship’) and claimed to be “a questioning Christian”. He has, he claimed, “… a sort of fairly classic Church of England faith, a faith that grows hotter and colder by moments …” and thinks “… that it’s perfectly possible to live a good life without having faith, by which I mean a positive and altruistic life, …” He also thinks that the teachings of Jesus are “… a good guide to help us through.” – although so are “… the teachings of other religions, …”

So, where does this leave Mr Cameron in terms of Biblical Christianity and being a disciple of Jesus? It is certainly good that he is willing to be so open with regard to his personal beliefs – but does what he says tie in with the Biblical picture of what Christian should be? With all respect, I fear not.

A Christian – i.e. a disciple of Jesus – is described in a number of passages in the New Testament, one of which is Philippians 4:4-13. In that brief section, Paul makes three simple points about what a Christian is. First of all, he says, a Christian is someone who enjoys a presence – even the Presence of the Lord Jesus. It makes such a difference who we have around. “Show me your company, and I’ll tell you your character” was one of the many bits of homespun philosophy that my paternal grandmother used to share. And it’s true. The Presence of Jesus is like no other. Different, and constant. He promises to be with His disciples, not just some of the time; not even just most of the time; but all of the time! (Matt.28:20)

But a Christian is also one who forms a practice. “Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again – rejoice!”, writes Paul. (Phil.4:4) And considering the circumstances in which he was writing – from a prison-cell in Rome – these may be viewed as strange words indeed. But Paul shows us how we may overcome our circumstances. He encourages us to pray, and to praise (v.6). The disciple of Jesus may pray about anything, and rejoice in every situation. Members of the persecuted church in over 50 countries around the world testify to this – and theirs are circumstances that no-one would desire!

The disciple of Jesus is one who also trusts a promise. Such a person is aware of the adequacy that Christ brings to a life. We know peace when we have adequate resources and, in v.13, Paul cries out “I can do everything that is required of me, with the help of Christ, Who gives me adequate resources” (my translation!). And the true believer discovers that Jesus not only brings adequacy, but that He also stills anxiety, as He provides that “… peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand.” (v.7).

No other religious belief-system of which I am aware, offers what Jesus offers. But there are conditions. I must confess my own sinfulness (my inability to meet the standard of God's moral law); I must accept that He, and only He, is able to pay the price for that sinfulness; and I must commit myself to Him, making Him #1 in my life. Now, if Mr Cameron, and every other Member of Parliament, were to be in that sort of relationship with the Lord then, here in the U.K., we would have a Parliament of which we could justly be proud, and one in which His Name would be honoured, and His Word obeyed.

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