Wednesday, April 23, 2014

David Cameron and Christianity

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.



Phillip said...

I may not have read many blogs, or follow loads of people who blog; I just don't have the time. But of those that I have read, this one by Simon on Cameron stands out as the most coherent and insightful of them all. Simon, you God-given pastoral gifts and wisdom are borne out well here, and I can only echo your sentiments: Let US be more evangelical than our Prime Minister about Who Christ is and Who He is to US.

Unknown said...

Well said, David Cameron! However believers know that despite the rhetoric of equality, freedom of speech and human rights, secular minds will never accept the validity and relevance of a truly Christian perspective in today’s world. Hear how the Living Bible speaks about such controversies:
“For the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God. As it says in the book of Job, God uses man’s own brilliance to trap him; he stumbles over his own “wisdom” and falls. And again, in the book of Psalms, we are told that the Lord knows full well how the human mind reasons and how foolish and futile it is.” 1 Corinthians 3:19-20.
As for the impact of Christ and his church on society, The Message translation puts it this way:
“God raised him from death and set him on a throne in deep heaven, in charge of running the universe, everything from galaxies to governments, no name and no power exempt from his rule. And not just for the time being, but forever. He is in charge of it all, has the final word on everything. At the centre of all this, Christ rules the church. The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church.” Ephesians 1:20-23

It’s time to redress the balance…

Unknown said...

Some of my thoughts on David Cameron’s recent comments on Christianity are summed up in a poem I initially wrote during John Major’s ‘Back to Basics’ campaign.

Back to Basics

Put Jesus back in the justice system
Put God in charge of government affairs
Put principles back in politics
Start each day in prayer.
Put truth and integrity back with success
Put Bible basics back in business

Put holiness back in the holidays
We must fast as well as feast.
Put forgiveness back in families
Pray, let us live in peace.