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09 June 2017

Stand up and be counted

Stand up and be counted

Danny Webster is advocacy and media manager at the Evangelical Alliance.

I don't understand politics any more. I've worked in politics for over a decade, and been fascinated by it for far longer. The 2001 election was the first that I stayed up through the night for (during my AS-Level exams) and just this week got hold of a map from The Times in 1950 for readers to colour in the election results constituency by constituency. I'm a political geek and have been up since 2am following the results as it became apparent that the exit poll's prediction of no Conservative majority proved accurate. 

Theresa May called this election to strengthen her hand in Brexit negotiations; the idea was that the Conservative Party could capitalise on her significant poll lead over Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party. However, as politicians frequently commented when presented with opinion polls, the only poll that mattered took place yesterday. 

Hubris is the word that hangs in the air today. This election was a gamble for the Conservative Party – a gamble thought to be safe but one that was lost. That happens when you gamble, and flattery (in the form of opinion polls and newspaper columnists) can deceive. As James teaches: 

"Now listen, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.' Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, 'If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that.' As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil." James 4:13-16. 

While we have had a lot of politics in recent years, what I think people have had too much of is politicians playing political games. Turnout at yesterday's vote was higher than in the general election in 2015 and then at the EU referendum last year – in fact it was the highest since 1997 so political apathy is not the issue here. Political frustration is clearly evidenced, but our votes make a difference – in Fife North East the Scottish National Party held on by just two votes. People aren't tired of taking part, they're tired of "arrogant schemes", tossed and turned by the political winds. What is needed in the years to come is not more political manoeuvring for partisan advantage, but action for the good of society. It is also a reminder that politics is not just for politicians, and that politics is not all that matters. 

During the election campaign the Evangelical Alliance called on Christians to ask what kind of society they wanted, and to challenge politicians about their vision for the future. The election is not the end of this story because voting is only one way we can contribute to what our society looks like. We have roles to play in every area of society, taking on responsibility for where we live and work. While we pray for our politicians, we don't leave the future of society just to them. 

Today we need to pray our best prayers and speak our best words for the future of our country, remembering the call in 1 Timothy 2 to pray for those in authority. As the Church we have an opportunity to show a fractured land what unity really looks like. We can stand together in the Jesus we love and follow. We can show what's different in a time of political uncertainty when you follow Jesus. The world needs to see the difference he makes to how we feel and act at a time like this. 

We have a chance to talk about and demonstrate the self-less, servant-hearted, saving love of Jesus; a chance to speak the truth of God to our communities; a chance to demand justice in our systems; a chance to proclaim freedom for our society. 

Will we, as a Church united in the gospel of grace, stand up and take part? Will we speak and act to bring about the society we want to see? Will we cheer one another on towards love, truth, justice and freedom? 

Let's play our part, in Jesus' name.

Image: CC Megan Lewis