Brexit and Trump or Jesus Christ?
Regular columnist Andrew Bryant sees a world searching for change, and points us to the only way it can truly be achieved.
Watching the news becomes increasingly harrowing. We see images of children playing amidst the ruin of their houses, doctors trying to save lives in hospitals under bombardment, we see refugees sitting by the roadside waiting at a border post longing to continue their walk to freedom. In our own country, we hear of hospitals struggling to cope and care homes closing under financial pressure. Politicians offer their usual platitudes, engage in the usual blame game and nothing changes. People feel unheard, ignored and fed-up.
We long for it to be different and long for change. The old political alliances and the oft repeated over-familiar political ideas seem to have got us nowhere so what happens if we do if differently? So we search around for something that is different, something that is not like what has gone before. We turn to new political parties, we decide to vote for the political outsider, we want to take the nation in a different direction and give the establishment a bit of a kicking.
What matters is not that the alternative is perfect but simply that it is different, that it is not “them” and that there is the opportunity of heading in a different direction. In Britain we decide Brexit is the answer and in America Trump seems the best option whilst this coming year in Europe who knows which old parties will fall and which new parties will take centre stage.
In short we want a Saviour. The old order has failed to deliver so let us look elsewhere. Who will help us now? Trump may prove to be best president of the USA ever. Brexit may prove the most important change this country has ever made but the truth that nobody wants to hear is that in the end neither of these will make a real or lasting difference. Different leaders and/or political parties can make some difference but much more limited than either would freely admit.
In the face of all the troubles in the world it may seem weak and ineffectual, but the truth that we all ignore is that the real change that is needed is in people’s hearts, my heart and your heart not just their, them over there’s heart. Peace and justice begin with right relationship with God and with one another.
I know I do not live my life as God truly intends me to live. I know I have too often not seen and not heard the voices of those who are struggling. Too often I have been the one ignoring the voices of those around me and have been one of those over-looking the needs of others.
I like to think I am kind and caring, concerned and supportive, but the truth is I move in my own limited circles, favour particular causes and ignore others. There is much I simply do not see, or choose not to engage with.
The real illness of our time is not political but spiritual. It is only when we put right our relationship with God that we will get our lives rightly orientated. It is only then that we will be able to start building stronger and sustainable relationships with the stranger, with those who live differently to us, with those we have previously ignored or overlooked.
It is when we take seriously the example and teaching of Jesus that we will turn our nation around and, in turn, help our world find peace and justice. It is not for nothing that the child whose birth we have so recently celebrated is given the name Jesus for, lest we forget, his name means “God saves”.
Toast Brexit if you wish, love or hate Trump, but when all the dust has settled neither will make the difference the world really needs. The strange truth that the world has yet to fully grasp is that the answers we search for begin with a carpenter’s son, born in a backwater in a far off country, two thousand years ago – a story we have yet to fully comprehend. Christianity remains the great experiment that the world has yet to properly try.
The Brexit image is courtesy of https://pixabay.com/
The Revd Andrew Bryant is the Canon for Mission and Pastoral Care at Norwich Cathedral. He was previously Team Rector of Portishead, Bristol, in the Diocese of Bath and Wells, and has served in parishes in the Guildford and Lichfield Dioceses, as well as working for twelve years with Kaleidoscope Theatre, a charity promoting integration through theatre for young adults with Down’s Syndrome.
You can read Andrew's latest blog entry here and can follow him via his new Twitter account @AndyBry3.
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