How should we vote as Christians?

So it’s general election time again, and in less than a month we will have a prime minister who has been democratically appointed by the United Kingdom, along with MP’s representing each constituency. As a christian sometimes it’s difficult to know where to start, when you begin thinking about all the different policies and impacts of your decision. The bbc has a helpful overview here of what the parties are pledging in their manifesto, but you can also visit individual party websites to find out more. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election-2017-39844115

I’m a Lib Dem supporter but I think if I lived in the centre of York I’d vote for Labour as the current MP Rachael Maskell came to a local event recently and I was really impressed with her humility, and gentle approach to talking to people with dementia from Minds and Voices, a local charity. She has also campaigned to try and keep a mental health hospital on the political agenda for York and has been widely respected for her views.

In my area, York Outer, the MP Julian Sturdy voted to leave the EU and I would fundamentally disagree with this, and the way the Conservatives will lead us in this process. If you want to find out how your MP voted head to Theyworkforyou at https://www.mysociety.org/wehelpyou/find-out-how-your-mp-voted/

Ultimately the EU question is the defining one in this election, but there will be many others to consider. Only the Lib Dems and Green party are keen to see a second referendum on the final outcome of the negotiations, so we can see if the UK is still fully behind us leaving the EU when the final deal is on the table.

So this passage from the bible I think is helpful in trying to determine our decision about who will be the most “fruitful” in their work for our communities and our country. Whether someone claims to be a christian or not, is actually not that helpful I don’t think. There are many people like Donald Trump who say they are a christian, but their actions may not support this, such as him bragging about sexually assaulting women.  It’s better to look at who they are, what kind of politician they are, and what they stand for, both at a local and a national level.

Matthew 7:15-27 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

A Tree and Its Fruit

15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? 17 In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will know them by their fruits.

Concerning Self-Deception

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?’ 23 Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.’

Hearers and Doers

24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. 25 The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall!”

Bed rest

Are you any good at admitting when you are wrong? I’ve had to apologise to people at work recently as I lost my temper. I have also had a stormy relationship with work colleagues in several different jobs, and it really doesn’t help me or the other people in the team but it’s alot easier than holding my hands up and saying sorry. Over the years my temper (mainly hidden as passive aggressive, and talking behind peoples backs..) has held me back. Recently I have had to stop and face up to this, and acknowledge that if I want things to change, the only person who can do that… is me. Often I think we want emotional growth to be pleasant and cuddly, but really it’s not always like that.

This Easter I felt rotten and went to bed on Good Friday, I lay in bed with a migraine, feeling really low, and I listened to a radio programme about a village where the plague had started, and a vicar had kept the locals from leaving to stop the plague from spreading. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05ny7nz. It was narrated by a doctor who had been working with Ebola victims. One woman in Eyam had to bury her husband, and three children single handedly. How I wondered does anyone get through that and survive? How did the village survive?

The message I got was to look into the pain, so I tried to look into the flashing lights I was experiencing as part of my migraine. As I did this, my anxieties fell back, my headache receded and I began to feel better. Facing up to the grief I’ve been carrying through my life, about my sister, has been a heavy thing to carry, but letting go of it, has also been difficult. The message I got was a bit like the bear hunt story.. you can’t go round it, you’ve got to go through it. Since that day I feel like things are slotting back into place gradually after a long period of really feeling quite anxious and low. Apparantly this is a normal part of the grief process.

I have to say being right even “righteous” which is probably the worst kind of right, is alot easier than admitting you have messed up. When you’ve been through a difficult time and had to dig deep, you like to think that’s it, you’ve done your bit, you have been saved/healed, sorted out, and there is no more personal growth to go through. I think that’s why alot of people get turned off church, as so many christians get stuck. Becoming a christian is not like a computer game, where you have to complete certain tasks to get to the next level, it’s more like Dr Who, whizzing around from one galaxy to the next, not knowing what to expect! Our preacher on Sunday was explaining that we sometimes try to compress the galaxy of God’s love into a more manageable component that we can carry around with us in our pockets!

Anyway that’s why I’ve decided for a while to change church. I believe it’s where God wants me to be, closer to home in Clifton, and I’m worshipping at Clifton Parish Church instead of St Paul’s. It’s felt really uncomfortable, like leaving university or something, as I’ve been part of a community, a group, a pattern of over 10 years, and I’ve probably left a massive hole in the rotas, but it feels like I’m being shaken up by God, and brought back to why I became a Christian. I’m not sure if I am going to stay there forever but it definitely feels like I am being told to rest a while……reminds me of Psalm 23 by David… (Bye the way I don’t know the bible that well, just look stuff up on Bible Gateway!!) ..

23 The Lord is my shepherd.

    I lack nothing.
He lets me rest in grassy meadows;
    he leads me to restful waters;
        he keeps me [a] alive.
He guides me in proper paths
    for the sake of his good name.

Even when I walk through the darkest valley,
    I fear no danger because you are with me.
Your rod and your staff—
    they protect me.

You set a table for me
    right in front of my enemies.
You bathe my head in oil;
    my cup is so full it spills over!
Yes, goodness and faithful love
    will pursue me all the days of my life,
    and I will live[b] in the Lord’s house
    as long as I live.