Thursday, 27 January 2011

Why Christians don't get involved in politics!

This is a copy of my church magazine article for February 2011

‘What are the top six reasons Christians don’t get involved in politics?’

That was the question posed by Andy Flannagan, Director of the Christian Socialist Movement, at the recent Mainstream conference that I attended. These are the answers he gave with which, I suspect, we would also agree. I’ve also added a very brief response to each question, which begins to answer why Christians should be involved.

1. ‘Politics is dirty.’ The recent and ongoing MP’s expenses scandals would certainly suggest that to be the case. Yet not all of politics is corrupt, and anyway, the darkest places need light the most.

2. ‘What’s the point? We’re doing other good things.’ Yet politics can bring change for the better, and offer more choices to people over their lives.

3. ‘Politics is not a priority. We should spend our time ‘saving souls for heaven’.’ Yet we pray, ‘Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as in heaven.’

4. ‘Jesus was servant, not a Caesar.’ Yet following Jesus does not mean you can’t be a politician, it just makes you a different kind of politician.

5. ‘I am involved in politics, just not party politics.’ It may be that you have not found a party that embodies all of your views, but that is true of churches as well. We learn through relationship and may influence one another within a political party or church!

6. ‘I don’t know how to get involved.’ If you have internet access, check out for all sorts of information, including links to the various Christian wings of our main political parties. You can even answer a fun questionnaire to see who would be in your cabinet if you led the nation!

You may be interested to know that I asked a question of Andy! ‘Is it all right for clergy to reveal their political leanings to their congregations? And should they seek to influence their churches in their own chosen direction?’ In a typical piece of political-speak, we might think, the answer was that mine was a very good question, and that clergy cannot help influencing their congregations from the pulpit, even if not revealing their political affiliations. So there you go!

I’m glad that we have Bella Saltmarsh in our congregation. Bella is a local councillor and deputy-mayor for Peterborough. Do pray for her! Yet I think it would be good for more of us to be involved in politics. After all, Jesus tells us that we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world, bringing flavour and shining into a dark world (Matthew 5:13-16).

How is God calling you to be involved? How is God calling me?

Monday, 10 January 2011

New Beginnings

Once again, it is that time for new beginnings and New Year’s resolutions. I wonder if you normally make a resolution and if you do, whether it is trivial or serious?

I want to challenge us all to make a resolution for 2011, that has the potential to be life-building and world-changing! Will you (and will I) make the commitment to read something from the Bible every day? I believe that the Bible reveals the Word of God to us. It is our book of faith containing guidance for life. If we don’t read it, we will miss out on much that God has to say to us. If we do read it, we won’t – simple as that!

It is our practice, as a church, to have a bible verse as a motto that highlights a special emphasis for the coming year. In 2011, the verse will be:

‘Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.’ Psalm 119v105

Four hundred years ago, the King James Bible was published in Great Britain. It has been life-building and world-changing in its impact. It is universally admired for its prose and poetry. Many of its phrases have become part of everyday language. It made the Word of God available to the masses in this country for the first time (to those who could read, and afford it) rather than just to a small group of ‘professionals’. It meant that, for the first time, people like you and I could read the Bible and meditate upon it and let it direct our lives.

Will you take up the challenge of reading the Bible daily? Our programme at Park Road Baptist Church can help you! During the first part of the year, I encourage you to join me in reading the ‘Essential 100’ Bible readings. These will be introduced through Sunday morning sermons and discussed in our small groups. Would you think about joining one of these, if you’re not in one already, for help and support?

Our motto as a church is that we be ‘a Light for our City’. Our Scripture verse for 2012 is that God’s Word be ‘a lamp to my feet and a light for my path’. May the two come together so that we can shine brightly for Jesus, the Light of the World!

Note to blog-readers: What are you launching in your church? I'll be interested to hear!