As I started to write this article David Cameron had just come back from Buckingham Palace where the Queen had dissolved Parliament. So paving the way for the General Election. By the time most of you read this the country will have decided who is going to govern us for the next five years. I am not going to get into party politics, nor would you want me to do so. But whoever gets into power will find a country with huge problems, debt, wealth and inequality being only the tip of the iceberg. In all of this it is easy for us as normal citizens to think that we have very little power to change things.
However, it is also true that our politicians have less power than they think. They too are often victims of circumstances beyond their control: international events and the power of corporate giants can soon lay shipwreck to their plans. So just how do we make this country, this world, a better place? I believe the answer can be found in the life and ministry of Jesus. Jesus was born into a country that had many similarities with our own. Palestine, like the UK, had a ruling elite, they were the Pharisees and Sadducees, However, like our own Parliament they too were subject to a higher power, not Corporate interests but the might of the Roman Empire.
To be anybody in Israel there was only one place to be and that was Jerusalem and the people of Jerusalem looked down on the rest of the country, none more so than the region of Galilee. A favourite phrase was, “Can anything good come out of Galilee?” It was Israel’s version of the North, South Divide! Jesus came out of that self – same Galilee, but He had no intention of making it rich in the big city. In fact, Jesus was not too interested in the politics of the day or the nationalistic battles between Israel and Rome, He was interested in another kingdom which He called the Kingdom of God. Jesus was not referring to some place we go to after this life but a Kingdom that is with us here and now and exists wherever the will of God is done. It is a kingdom that expands, not by conquest, but by individuals being added one by one; that’s why Jesus concentrated on people not politics.
The Gospel message is that anyone can belong to this kingdom provided they follow His teachings. Notice, I said His teachings, not teachings of the church or some preacher but His teachings! The Kingdom is open to all whether they claim to be Christian or not, people of all faiths or none are included. What are those teachings? Well, the universal command to love our neighbour as ourselves is a good place to start. This year many of our readings will be from the Gospel of Mark, why don’t you read it slowly through over the course of this year? It will tell you all you need to know. If you are frightened you won’t understand it, help is at hand.
Sunday 24 May is Pentecost when we remember God giving His Holy Spirit to the world. That Spirit will guide you through it if you read prayerfully. Don’t worry about other people’s opinions of what you read, what is important is what the words say to you. Jesus today gives us all the opportunity to be part of His Kingdom, just as He did many years ago. We simply have to listen to His voice in the words of Mark and seek, as far as possible, to do what He teaches. If we do that the world makes one more step to being a better place. You do have the power to change things.
Peace and Good to you all.
(This article by Dave Chambers was originally published as part of St David’s Messenger in May 2015)