Hanging in there? – How do we respond to the General Election result?

I’d planned two little articles this norming, one entitled “For those who got what they wanted” and one “For those who didn’t get they wanted.”  Well this morning we wake up to a hung parliament and so we could say that nobody gets what they want!

It’s worth making a couple of background points here

  1. Whilst hung parliaments with coalition or minority government seem very unusual  to us, many countries around the world operate on this basis with larger parties relying on the support of smaller and regional parties.
  2. We have had hung parliaments before including most recently in 2010 resulting in the Conservative – Lib Dem coalition
  3. This hung parliament is slightly different to the last one in that it was based on smaller parties doing well against the big two. This time the smaller parties have been squeezed out, it is a close result between the big two. There is a sense in which the country is split down the middle.

For those interested in politics there will be lots of fascinating analysis, observations etc to make. I’ll leave those kinds of observations to political websites – this is not one. Because a General election is about leaders communicating their message, there are also lots of practical lessons for leaders about how we lead, strategy, vision, tactics and communication (I think most people will guess what the obvious example from this campaign is). From time to time I include leadership lesson jottings on this site and I may if I get chance over the next couple of weeks include an article on this. Finally, the result throws up all sorts of questions about what policies will now be implemented, these will have major moral implications and Christians will want to have Biblical view on them.

Today I want to confine myself to a couple of comments about two aspects of the situation we find ourselves in.

  1. A divided Society?

A lot of commentators will be talking about the deep divisions within our society. Over the past few elections and referendums we have seen hostility between different sides amplified by social media.  Disagreement is personalised, those who take a different view are trolled on twitter and unfriended on facebook. It isn’t just about hostility towards politicians we disagree with but ordinary members of the public.  After the Brexit referendum, I even heard storied of family members refusing to talk to each other. Indeed, one of the most disturbing things we have seen in recent years has been the addition of generation war to class war as different age groups look at each other with mutual suspicion.

The church needs to be counter cultural to this.  If we are neither Jew nor Gentile, Slave nor free, male nor female in Christ, then nor are we Labour or Tory, Brexiteers or Remainers, Nationalists or Unionists, the younger generation or the grey vote. We are all one in Christ Jesus. There is a higher throne that demands our allegiance.

That does not mean that there is no place for debate and even sharp disagreement. That’s all part of good family life. However:

–          We have a unity in the Gospel that is far more important. We can disagree without falling out.

–          We should be gracious in our differences, thinking the best of others and not distrusting their motives even if we disagree with their decisions.

–          We can disagree without being disagreeable thinking carefully about how we present our view

–          When we do see wrong motives in others (and there will be, even among Christians) then our aim should not be to crush and destroy them. We should not go for them out of bitterness and hatred but rather to challenge sin in order to restore (see Matthew 18:15-20)

 

  1. A diminished Country?

One of the repeated points this morning is that our standing in the world and particularly with Brussels this morning is diminished ahead of the Brexit negotiations.  Now, because of the nature of our parliamentary system, Theresa May is weakened and any other potential Prime minster will also have the disadvantage of lacking a clear mandate. May is particularly weakened because she has bene seen to gamble and lose.  However, given that coalitions are not that unusual in the rest of Europe, I suspect that won’t be a long-term problem for those negotiating. Indeed, maybe there is a stronger case this morning for a cross party team to represent us in the talks.

However, if we think of Britain as diminished then maybe this challenge us to think again about where our hope and security lies. Now, I think it is a good thing to love your own country and take pride in the good things it has achieved throughout history. However, there can be a nationalistic pride and arrogance that is idolatrous.  Britain is simply one of the Kingdoms of this world that will rise and fall. We have seen this throughout the book of Revelation. Our security, joy and hope must be in the Lord.

  1. An uncertain future

This morning we are peering into the unknown. Mind you, I suspect this would have been the case to some extent if either of the main parties had won a majority. There was no guarantee that Theresa May would have been able to get the best Brexit deal or even that the best deal would have sheltered us from economic hardship.  Jeremy Corbyn may or may not have been able to fulfil his promises to recruit more police, cancel student loans, fund the NHS.  Indeed, one of the few certainties in politics is that it usually ends in disappointment.

Life often is uncertain.  This Sunday we will be looking at Proverbs 16 (come and join us at 9:30am or 11:15am).  There we see that we can be busy about making our plans and doing what we think is right but it is God who is sovereign and so it is far more important for us to submit to his will and follow his decrees. Because God is sovereign, it means we can face uncertain times ahead. Whether or not the economic or political future is bright, God will be working through our circumstances for our good and his glory.  It may not always be easy to see that (indeed it is likely that things will only make sense in eternity) but it will remain true.

“Because he lives I can face tomorrow

Because he lives, all fear is gone

Because I know, he holds the future

And Life is worth the living just because

I know he lives”[1]

[1] Bill Gaither

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