Whether careless or calculated, some recent words from Members of Parliament have deepened the ‘fault lines’ of division in British politics and opened fractures and fissures in parties. The widower of murdered MP Jo Cox, Brendan Cox, Church leaders and many others are rightly calling for calm and greater mutual respect as showdowns at the Ol’ ‘Brexit Corral’ and ‘General Election’ draw nearer.
Is it true that, “Sticks and stones make break my bones, but names will never hurt!”? I’m not convinced. You certainly need a thick skin to be involved in politics and it’s no wonder some politicians fear for their own safety and the security of loved ones.
What sort of church, community and country do we want and pray for? Surely ones where we, and our leaders, are more ready to eat “humble pie” than spout ‘humbug’, to say “Sorry” rather than “No Surrender”. Robust debate and passion are important for finding best ways forward, but from my own painful experience, words spoken in haste or anger rarely do any good. My negotiating 30 years of service in Fullarton Church and Community (by God’s Grace) is in large part down to the vital art of apology when I mess up and make mistakes, and the gracious forgiveness of those I hurt.
The Bible gives us some very helpful direction for our day:
“Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him! Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you’re on their side, working with them and not against them. Help them see that the Master is about to arrive. He could show up any minute!
Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the centre of your life.
Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.”(Philippians 4:4-9 / MSG)