You might have noticed that the last few months have been a tumultuous time in UK politics. The leadership contest for the next Prime Minister is now in full swing, with Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss going head to head for the top spot. However, worryingly, this interruption in our politics will possibly delay action on urgent issues like climate change. There is a risk that we might see support for the poorest around the world being pushed down the agenda.
So how do we navigate what can feel like an overwhelming, confusing, bleak picture? For us as Christians, maybe there is a better question: how would Jesus navigate UK politics?
DID JESUS EVEN CARE?
When we think about Jesus, politics probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. However, Jesus was political. His death on a cross was a political execution. A punishment saved for those who went against and rejected the authority of the day – the Roman empire.
Jesus wasn’t afraid to speak truth to power. In the words of the Archbishop of Canterbury: ‘Jesus was highly political. He told the rich that, unlike the poor who were blessed, they would face woes. He criticised the King as a fox. He spoke harsh words to leaders of the nations when they were uncaring of the needy.’ Jesus was political.
THE KINGDOM MESSAGE
The heart of Jesus’ message was about the coming of the Kingdom of God, a kingdom where justice and peace would reign, and everyone would have enough. But even the word choice of ‘kingdom’ created conflict with those in power because it threatened the earthly kingdoms of Herod and Rome.
So often, politics can divide people, splitting individuals into separate camps where differences become divisive. Yet when we look to our Saviour, we see a different approach. The kingdom Jesus proclaimed (and still proclaims) is one of hope, unity and love. Jesus may have been political, but his mission focused on restoring relationships and reconciling all things to him, as seen in Colossians 1:20. We can partner with Jesus to carry out his restorative plan in all areas of life – including politics.
SO HOW CAN WE RESPOND LIKE JESUS?
Here are a few suggestions for responding to politics today:
But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. (Luke 5:16)
Jesus knew the power of prayer in all situations, regularly withdrawing from his busy and crowded life to speak with his Father. The Bible also explicitly calls us to pray for our leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-2). In these uncertain times, we can follow Jesus’ example of making time and space to pray for our leaders and government.
Here are a few prayer points to guide you:
- Pray for peace and unity amid uncertainty.
- Ask God for wisdom for our political leaders so that they will be guided by God and act with integrity
- Pray for the UK Government to be a force for good, that they will respond to those most affected by poverty and the climate crisis.
- Pray for decisions to be made that care for, rather than harm, God’s creation and those who depend on it.
‘Whatever you do to the poor, the hungry or the one in prison, you have done to me,’ he said. Matthew 25:31–40
We see numerous examples in the Bible of Jesus using his voice and actions to challenge injustice, oppression and inequality. He preached about caring for the poor, healing the sick and spending time with those excluded by society. There are many ways we can act like Jesus and call on our leaders to respond with compassion and justice. Why not:
- Join us in calling on the UK Government to care for the poorest by ensuring finance is delivered to climate-vulnerable communities.
- Please write to your MP to ask them to keep issues like climate change on the agenda. You can find some helpful template letters here.
We’ve touched on the fact that caring for the poor is at the heart of Jesus’ response and mission. Sometimes the best way we can respond and act like Jesus is through generously investing in kingdom work to places you know are causing real change.
Consider giving to Tearfund’s vision of seeing an end to poverty by going where the need is greatest.