Rector's Letter

Leaders, and whom to trust

I find myself, like I did last month, writing about events whose outcomes are yet to unfold. This time it’s Brexit. In the EU, or out of the EU? With a deal or without a deal? Serious questions, on which opinions, often passionately held, differ markedly. Maybe there’s a right answer but it’s hard to be confident of knowing it, and for sure there’s a great deal of room for debate. Now that’s a good thing, isn’t it? That’s democracy at work. And tied up in all of this is the question of leadership. Mrs May, or not? Boris, or not? Mr Corbyn, or not? That argument is part of the same political process, and which of us would want to live in a society where we didn’t get a meaningful say, directly or indirectly, in who takes the seat of power? Whatever our political judgments, we have much to give thanks for in our processes of government, even when, as recently, they seem to be creaking a bit at the seams. We can have our own views; we can argue them, and, to the extent of our ability and of our inclination, we can play an active part in the process. And if we think they’re not listening, we can get mad and campaign. These issues matter, so thank God for the freedom to do that.

But a danger lurks: that of investing too much hope in the wrong place. It’s one thing to believe, and to argue vociferously, that Mrs May (or Boris, or Mr Corbyn, or whoever) has the wisest policies, and is best suited, and will work hard and honourably. That’s entirely healthy. But it’s quite another to slip into the deceptive falsehood that all will be well if, for example, this or that person is elected. If we expect our leader always to be right, always to solve all of our problems, always to have an answer to every question, then we’re placing the burden of being God on to the shoulders of a man or woman who can never sustain such a heavy load. The Scripture offers words of wisdom about just this, and speaks bluntly: “Stop trusting in man, who has but a breath in his nostrils. Of what account is he?” (Isaiah 2 22)

All of our leaders are fallible human beings who (whether we agree with them or not) deserve our prayers. There’s only One who is totally and eternally trustworthy. Only One who will, in the end, deal with all of our problems. And He’s the One whose birth we celebrate in December, and from whose date we count our years. Let’s pray for our leaders, but let’s make sure to put our trust not in them but in our true Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. Happy Christmas!

Rob Thomas

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