Tag Archives: kingdom of God

Election 2015: Will the Church Please Stand Up.

The band played loudly, and victoriously, the preacher inspired us, built us up, ready to go out and serve the Lord where ever we might find ourselves. There was an air of optimism and hopefulness in the crowd of worshippers, that nothing was impossible for God.

Except I didn’t connect with the outpouring of the exuberant optimism, I didn’t share the smiles on their faces, or hands held aloft in worship. It wasn’t that I didn’t sense a of the move of the spirit, as everyone else was.

It’s just the spirit was telling me something else. That for me my journey would be a rougher road. Rather than a sense of optimism, I felt I was entering into a season of struggle, instead of feeling hopeful and full of faith, I wondered if my faith was strong enough to overcome.

I was struck by the assumption from the band that everybody would be feeling uplifted and exuberant, I longed to join in, instead fell silent. Seeking God in the midst of the cacophony of beautiful music, seeking God for the road ahead, for the unseen difficulty and struggle. I didn’t know what it meant, or if I had misunderstood what the Lord saying.

It seems to me and within this country there are those, who will be exuberantly rejoicing at the Conservatives being re-elected, and also those for whom such news is perhaps as bad as it gets. There is a need for sensitivity in recognising our neighbour may feel very differently to ourselves.

But also as I sat in that auditorium filled with worship of the living God, there is a need to be reminded, that this living God, understands the human condition, the nature of joy, as well as the long road of suffering. For Gods son, knows these things, experienced these things, and in him we try to trust, even if the road ahead, is smooth or rough.

As brothers and sisters in Christ we are part of the kingdom of God, the kingdom that does not sit idly by. The kingdom that liberates, brings hope, restoration, and resurrection. We are Gods children, and may we see through his eyes, the world around, full of possibility, and aching brokenness, of both a sense of hopefulness in a manifesto and dread at what it might mean for the most vulnerable in society.

We each are children of the living God regardless of our political persuasion, and members of the kingdom of God, that causes us to look out of our box, or worldview, and walk with our neighbour, the destitute, the super rich, the famous, the sinner, and the saint, not that we might be glorified, but that God who sees the beginning and end might be glorified.

Furthermore that people might come to know a different political structure, the structure of the kingdom of God, that outlasts, outlives, and saves completely in every way. And that the values of such a kingdom might underpin who we are, how we live out our personal preferences, desires, ambitions and response to the UK General Election.

Election 2015: Vote as one impoverished and poor. 

Labour says they have a better plan but I’m still not sure what it is, the Conservatives have tackled the deficit on the backs of the poor, scarily UKIP might win more seats,  and I can’t vote for the female version of William Wallace from the film Brave Heart or another words Nicola Sturgeon of the SNP as much as I might want to! Then there’s the DUP, Green party, of whom I know very little.

Chatting with people who understood who there fighting for in World War II this week, they too are as confused as I, on who and what to vote for. It perhaps comes down to experience, my experience under a Labour government, in terms of healthcare and support for the underprivileged at least was excellent. More recently under the conservative government, that help and care has been systematically eroded. But there will be of course those for whom the opposite is true.

A taxi driver the other day in my hometown berated me for not wanting to vote conservative, as he drove me and my little boy home at midnight after having waited in A&E since 8 o’clock that evening! It seems everyone has their opinion. He was arguing it was worse under labour!

To gain a little perspective this election is not a choice between freedom or a dictatorship like in Syria, Zimbabwe, Iran, and so on, is not a choice between corrupt government parties. We don’t even have to worry if the ballots will be tampered with, or whether we will be hassled by armed gunmen as we queue to make a cross in a box like more recently happened in Crimea and the Ukraine.

We in the UK instead will be glued to our TV screens watching the classic swingometer do its thing. Then sometime on Friday onwards we will discover who our new prime minister is, and in a way nothing will change, food will still get delivered to supermarkets, the police will still be there to protect and serve, when I dial 999 there will be someone to help, and of course they will still be taxes to pay bills to find money for.

I hope this election will bring about a change in governmental ethos, in same way that Jesus opened peoples eyes, to the ethos of the kingdom of God, one which is not so much about blind obedience, religious observance, and guilt. The kingdom instead would see the blind healed, the deaf hear, the lame walk, the tax collector make an honest living, the rabbi discovering for himself that religion was more about experience of divine grace and love, than rituals that bankrupt the spiritual seeker.

My hope my dear reader is standing before God, as we put a cross in that box, our conscience is clear, our resolve is resolute, and our choice is rooted in the love of our neighbour, perhaps in the booth next door making his or her own choice.

God bless and go with God

How would Jesus Vote?

Something that has been taxing me recently is as a christian, which way should I vote in the up and coming British General Election? Or should I even bother? The parties do not seem to offer much alternative, as they jostle for the political centre ground. So in the midst of confusion and indifference to the status quo, I ponder therefore, how would Jesus vote?

On the one hand of course the historical Jesus couldn’t ever have picked up a pen and marked a cross on a ballot paper, he did something else with a cross instead! The political regime of the day was after all a dictatorship, like that in some way of China, Iran, Syria, and so on. So the right to vote wasn’t even a reality for him. Except the historical Jesus is also eternal, because Jesus is fully human and fully God. So which way would he vote?

In the British political context no political party would say they are christian or hold to such ideals exclusively. That of course could be a good thing! As I am not sure the church agrees universally on all the christian values, nor would have agreement on the implementation on so called values. For example loving your neighbour and God, the first one is easy, but how do you implement policies about loving God? For me at least that seems a minefield and the thing the cross of Christ rather than the cross of the ballot paper liberates us from, that top down, imposing of belief structures, Jesus never said you must believe instead offered saying follow me, in which there is an implicit choice, any how I digress.

Perhaps who would Jesus vote for could be answered with, the one who follows him most. This following of christ transcends political preference, redefines our lives. It’s the same question that the disciples asked, about what was the messiah going to do, and they didn’t see the full picture. That the messiah was about something much bigger, much bigger than human politics and agendas, but about calling people to see the bigger picture they are part of, that picture being the Kingdom of God.

So whichever party you look towards, view them through the lens of that other manifesto, the one of Jesus found in Matthews gospel chapter five The Beatitudes:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God…

Finally when you prayerfully tick that box, assuming you do, have your mind on our higher calling, that of the kingdom of God. Lets look for a  Jesus, who was political, he had a clear manifesto about change, valuing others, loving your neighbour, connected into the big vision of the Kingdom of God. After that ask yourself which party with help me serve the Kingdom of God best, and to be honest that is an individual decision and people will pick all of the parties on the merit that they see fit in answering that question. So God Bless and go in peace.

Children, God and The Kingdom

cute_kids_cute_play-wideThe Baptism was going well, when out of the corner of my eye I noticed one of the grandparents wrestling (figuratively), with her young grand-daughter trying to keep her quite in church. The child was getting louder and louder, and the Grandma was getting more and more irate. All the young child wanted was to be with its mum, who was one of the God parents of the baby I was baptising.

Earlier in the service we had heard the bible reading from Marks gospel, where Jesus says, “let the little children come to me, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these”. It appeared no one recalled what had been said or what it might mean, and so I beckoned to the grandma to let the girl go to her mum rather than continue her currently unsuccessful course of action. Of course the child calmed down and was more than happy in her mothers arms.

As I remember the children at the christening and watch my own kids on holiday charging around, deeply committed to the moment and delight of imaginative play. Where sticks become swords,  cracks in pavements are to be jumped over otherwise the monster gets you and where rocks or bits of dirt actually becomes priceless treasure, that no adult could ever comprehend! I began to ponder as to what Jesus might mean by “the Kingdom Of God belongs to such as these”.

Children are messy, whimsy, fanciful, prone to repetitive outbursts like ‘are we there yet,’ and ‘can I get it,’ they are also, fearless in play, insightful, loyal and loving. A child can see new worlds and adventures in their surroundings, they don’t understand cynicism but say whats on their heart in the moment they are feeling it.

Yet can we really take Jesus words seriously and the person who recorded his words into the gospels? Surely to have the keys to the kingdom so to speak, the individual should bare the fruits of the spirit, have the wisdom and theological learning needed to fully appreciate God, and of course be filled with the Holy Spirit and have put their faith fully in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

However could Jesus be actually saying to enter into heaven or see Gods kingdom around us we need to be as imaginative as children, trusting as children, hopeful as children, ready to be guided by someone bigger than ourselves, like children.

Yet perhaps alternatively an image of Gods Kingdom we represent across christian denominations is something instead that is terribly grownup. That at its worse disregards those very attributes Jesus extols. A person who knows they are a child of God and not equal and feels safe with that, someone who want to grow up into the greatness he or she sees in their parent, someone sees possibilities impossibly bigger than their own abilities and skills and is not afraid of asking for help.

Perhaps take a moment today, to look around you to where God might be, allow yourself to be reminded that you are a child of God. Allow God to break you out of your moulded crafted religious lives. Into new possibilities, new ways of looking at life and the Kingdom God is calling is towards and into.

God for it…:)

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