It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by events, particularly when things move at such a pace. This piece has undergone a series of re-thinks and changes in the last couple of days, and now is written as the Conservative party is in the process of deciding who will be our third prime minister since Erling Haaland arrived in the Premier League.
During the brief Truss premiership, one of her opponents' most common attack lines was ‘nobody voted for this’. When Johnson was forced from office in disgrace, only Conservative members had a vote in choosing his replacement, and Liz Truss was duly chosen by 81,326 people out of a population of more than 65 million. People felt major decisions were being made without them. And now six weeks later, the same situation applies.
How then should God’s people respond when such momentous decisions are being made? What can we do in these circumstances to improve them? How do we most profitably channel our frustration and feelings of powerlessness, and work to bring in God’s kingdom here on earth?
Keep an eternal perspective
During lockdown, our men’s bible study group worked through the Book of Revelation. Revelation is a message to first-century Christians beset by all sorts of difficulties, both inside the church and from hostile political authorities, calling them to hold fast to Jesus, and reminding them that Jesus has won the ultimate victory and will one day return to establish his eternal kingdom.
As followers of Jesus, we can rest secure in the knowledge that however difficult the circumstances around us, ultimately Jesus has already won the victory and we will reign with Him for eternity (2 Timothy 2:8; Revelation 5:10). This assurance gives us a good foundation when considering the present political instability.
Hold on to, and speak, the truth
Having this eternal perspective, we should have the courage to be honest about what we are witnessing. Whereas it may suit certain political actors to deny observable facts, such as the damage the form of Brexit chosen by the UK government is doing to our economy, our trade, and our international reputation, as Christians we must be truth speakers.
We serve a God who does not lie (Titus 1:2), we have a saviour who is full of grace and truth (John 1:14), and we are called to speak truth (Ephesians 4:25). So, we must speak truth and not connive with deceit, nor condone dishonesty by those in high office.
Remember we are not left alone
One memorable phrase from our bible studies was when someone said the experiences of the last few years had given him insight into what it would have been like to live under one of the many evil kings in Israel and Judah. In the Hebrew scriptures, we see a succession of kings who did evil in God’s sight, worshipping other gods and serving their own greed and lust for power. Yet throughout that time, God did not give up on his people. He sent a succession of prophets to call them back to Him, and there was always a faithful remnant.
God reassured Elijah that he was not the only one who was faithful, but there were 7,000 who had not worshipped Baal. As Christians, we can encourage each other by reminding ourselves that we have a God who sees our troubles and has promised never to leave or forsake us. And this same God has won eternal victory through Jesus, that will endure long after the current turmoil has disappeared.
Be active in prayer
Those preceding three points - keeping an eternal perspective, holding fast to the truth, and remembering that we have not been left alone - should spur us on to the one thing that nothing can stop us from doing - bringing our concerns and hopes to God in prayer.
As Christians, we have the amazing gift of being able to come any time we want into the presence of the God who is Lord of all, the God who does not lie, the God who has won the ultimate victory. Prayer is an amazing gift and privilege, and it brings unbelievable changes.
Brother Andrew used to say our prayers go where we cannot. We cannot go into the meetings of Conservative MPs voting for the next Prime Minister, but our prayers can. We cannot go into meetings of the Bank of England monetary policy committee, but our prayers can. We cannot go into discussions that Putin is having with his generals, but our prayers can. We can pray and, in this way, do not have to be helpless bystanders. We are children of the living God, the King of all creation and the Lord of Everything.
So let us be bold and persistent in praying that God’s kingdom would come, and that light would shine in the dark.