I got to thinking today, didn’t the Prime Minister offer some Christian-sounding Easter messages over the last few years?
Careful observers might recall my disappointment with the woolly content of these messages, but… as the Good Book says, “Be sure your sins will find you out.”
“The heart of Christianity is to ‘love thy neighbour’ and millions do really live that out. I think of … the soup kitchens and homeless shelters run by churches. They proved, yet again, that people’s faith motivates them to do good deeds. That is something this government supports and celebrates.”
David Cameron, Easter 2014
“Across Britain, Christians don’t just talk about ‘loving thy neighbour’, they live it out… in faith schools, in prisons, in community groups.
“And it’s for all these reasons that we should feel proud to say, ‘This is a Christian country.’ The church is not just a collection of beautiful old buildings. It is a living, active force doing great works across our country.
“Yes, we are a nation that embraces, welcomes and accepts all faiths and none but we are still a Christian country. And as a Christian country, Our responsibilities don’t end there.”
David Cameron, Easter 2015
Then there was this interview with Premier Christianity magazine, last Easter.. It’s worth reading in full, but here are some choice quotes:
“As Prime Minister, I’m in no doubt about the matter: the values of the Christian faith are the values on which our nation was built.”
“But I’m an unapologetic supporter of the role of faith in this country. And for me, the key point is this: the values of Easter and the Christian religion – compassion, forgiveness, kindness, hard work and responsibility – are values that we can all celebrate and share.”
“‘Love thy neighbour’ is a doctrine we can all apply to our lives – at school, at work, at home and with our families. A sense of compassion is the centre piece of a good community.”
Above all, his conclusion:
“I end my argument with this: I hope everyone can share in the belief of trying to lift people up rather than count people out. Those values and principles are not the exclusive preserve of one faith or religion. They are something I hope everyone in our country believes.
That after all is the heart of the Christian message. It’s the principle around which the Easter celebration is built. Easter is all about remembering the importance of change, responsibility, and doing the right thing for the good of our children. And today, that message matters more than ever.” (Emphasis both mine.)
I have, I guess, one question.
Christian principles, or “values” as David Cameron calls them, are only worthwhile if they shape our Character. This one time, a lawyer – read “politician” – asked Jesus, “What is the greatest commandment?” It’s great that anyone, not least the Prime Minister of the UK’s Government can give part of the answer. But remember, Jesus expanded his answer, when another (or possibly the same) politician asked him, “Ah but, just who is my neighbour?”
Love your neighbour. But remember, sometimes your neighbour is Johnny Foreigner.
One final point in all this. My Lord and Saviour was also an infant refugee. And so, when the judgement comes, one charge will be, “I was a stranger and you did not welcome me,” I hope our Christian values will lead us to reflect on that for a moment.