I guess most of us will have seen the comments made by David Cameron over Easter where he said that he had experienced the “healing power” of religion in his own life, and insisted that Christianity could transform the “spiritual, physical, and moral” state of Britain and even the world.
I wonder what you made of what he said?
For me at one level I want to jump up and down in agreement and celebration at a British Prime Minister being willing to say this sort of thing. We do believe that the local church is the hope of the world, and that it is God's plan for the transformation of society. We do want the church to be front and centre in speaking into and shaping so many issues in society, just as it has done so powerfully in our nation's history. Surely it can only help having a Prime Minister who embraces those truths.
But then the more cyncial side of me kicks in. This is the same person who before the general election hugged huskies and said this would be the greenest government ever. This is someone who in the past has described his faith as being "like magic FM in the chilterns", meaning that it periodically fades and then reappears. This is the same government which whilst David Cameron praises Trussell Trust Foodbanks, Ian Ducan Smith's Department of Work and Pensions accuses Trussell of "misleading and emotionally manipulative publicity-seeking" and denies any link between benefit delays and people needing to use Foodbanks - a claim which is frankly laughable if you've spent any time talking to Foodbank clients.
I honestly don't know what to make of it. But as I've reflected there are a couple of things which I do know.
The first is that we need to pray for David Cameron, and for all of our leaders (especially the ones in the DWP!). The apostle Paul writes to Timothy:
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:1-4 NIVUK)
Let's pray for wisdom, insight, compassion, humility, honesty, strong families, courage and whatever else we can think of. Let's remember that when Paul was writing to Timothy the people in authority were the Romans who were occupying Israel and were about to set out on a mass persecution of followers of Jesus - Paul didn't tell Timothy to make a value judgement about his leaders but to pray for them - we need to do the same. If we spent half the time praying for our leaders that we spend reading about them, watching TV about them or talking about them I honestly think we'd have a very different nation.
Secondly what if David Cameron's comments aren't genuine, and are an attempt to win over Conservative voters who have defected to UKIP or something similar? Well the Bible tells us not to get too worried about it, but to rejoice that people are talking about Jesus. This is what Paul said in a sort of similar situation:
It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defence of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. (Philippians 1:15-18 NIVUK)
I don't know David Cameron's motives are (and neither do you), but what I do know is that Paul tells us to rejoice that people are talking about Jesus and the church. Let's just be sure that we are proclaiming Jesus, and the local church as the hope of the world, even more confidently and boldly than our Prime Minister!
Hope that helps. I'd love to hear people's thoughts on any of this.