Today sees the inaugural meeting of the new Conservative cabinet in Downing St. With the dust having now settled on the results of last weeks general election, it is time for all the parties to move on from the celebrations and commiserations. The real work of governing now begins. It is an ominous task and there are many issues which will need to be addressed by the new ministers and cabinet members. Yet one of the main areas which they will have to face is an old problem and one which every human faces, regardless of political persuasion, economic status or ethnic background; the human heart.
We see that God is clear in stating that this is the root of the problem which we all face, “the heart is deceitful above all things” (Jeremiah 17:9). Jesus also helps bring clarity to this reality. He does this by showing that external factors are only drawing out what is already inside of a human heart (Mark 7:20-23). Let’s be clear here, this does not mean that we cannot “do good things”, “have nice thoughts” or “have good intentions”. But it does mean that whatever we do is tarnished by this latent problem.
Jeremiah was addressing the corrupt leaders of Israel and his words still speak with authority today. Often representatives of the people fall as they begin to listen to the soft lull of the human heart, leading them on a path of self exaltation instead of service. For this reason I suggest that there are two things which Christians can do in light of the problem.
First of all we can and should pray for those who have been put in authority over us. Paul highlights this, “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions” (1 Timothy 2:1-2). This is never a bad thing and it is essential that people who believe in Jesus put these words into action.
Secondly we can expect our leaders to fail. I want to be clear here it is not so that we can laugh at them or deride them; that is not the point. Rather we must be aware that they are human and have a flawed heart. Not everything that they do will be beneficial, just or right. The thought that somehow we can construct a utopia if we have the correct left wing or right wing government is sadly misleading and can become very damaging.
What comes of the new cabinet in the coming term of office remains unclear. We wait to see how the nation fairs with the new administration and the policies which it wishes to establish. One aspect is clear though. The same old problem will come to the surface again. Pray for a changing of the heart and for the Gospel to bear good fruit in those who rule over us.