Thought for the Week

Rev John Carrick: retired Director of Middle East Christian Outreach

In these days of political uncertainty, as a (retired) church leader, I’m sometimes asked how followers of Jesus should respond to our current situation. In truth society largely bypasses the church. But it has a real part to play in influencing the life of the nation for good. To use Jesus words: the church, through its members should be salt and light in the world. Their role should not be defined in party political terms, but rather in certain attitudes and principles. Take two.

First: the use of language. Followers of Jesus in the ancient world, despite being persecuted by the authorities and often hounded to untimely deaths, were nevertheless urged to speak peaceably to everyone, especially to those who opposed them. The display of this attitude eventually impacted the entire Roman Empire. UK is thankfully a much less threatening place, where the church can speak openly and followers of Jesus can express views. But these views should be expressed without harsh or bitter words, which are unhelpful and too often stir trouble. Yes, the future of our lives and our nation are impacted by the present uncertainties, but moderate tones will be more helpful and effective than heated exchanges.

Secondly: the use of prayer. St Paul urged churches to pray “for kings and those in authority.” It’s easy to pray only for those on our side of the argument and ignore those who disagree with us. But the Bible urges prayer for all political leaders. This was radical teaching in the first century and equally important today. I once had the privilege of addressing a meeting in Parliament about the church in the Middle East. In talking with MPs I was acutely aware of the huge responsibility Honourable Members shoulder. While many are fiercely criticised at the present time, they need support wherever possible. In the past, in times of national crisis, our leaders called the nation for days of prayer. Today’s society is more secularised, but people of faith still have a role to play. Maybe it’s time for the church to make that call.