You can't do stupid forever

December 31, 2022

The sick man of Europe

The UK has again become the sick man of Europe and optimism is thin on the ground. We have a lame duck government that can’t or won’t take the action required and the Shadow Cabinet waiting in the wings doesn’t inspire confidence. It is as if we are hostages trapped in the boot of a car. The Tories will take us over the cliff at 50mph. Labour will do it at 80mph. Same end result.

You can’t see a doctor. The posties are on strike and the computer increasingly says “No” when dealing with any form of bureaucracy and no one has the enthusiasm to dig deeper to find out why.

Even with the wave of strikes I’m not sure anyone will notice. If anything, there may be relief. At least on the day, if you have a heart attack, you know no ambulance will come and an Uber should be summoned. The situation is so chaotic that there is almost an order to it. Assume the worst and anything else is a bonus.

We can't blame our leaders

The reflexive and easy response is to blame our ‘regime’ leadership - because they are of course, ridiculous. Their ideas, their solutions, their worldview, all provenly bankrupt. The institutions sustain them for now, but you can’t do stupid forever. Momentum will run out and when the music stops playing, we will all look up and wonder how this happened. We will have no excuse, in fact one thing that singles out 2022 more than any other year is the blatant lying - It is not even spin any more. Words no longer have any agreed meaning. They have become “definition-fluid”.

Here’s my point: If we want revivification of our moribund society, reformation must come from the bottom - Our tired political leaders reflect us. When we as individuals are confused and drifting, why might we expect anything different from them? Are we reliable, faithful, incorruptible, wise, resolute and courageous? We all understand these adjectives to be desirable but they take energy to cultivate and most important of all a philosophical framework to rest upon.

Regardless of our political colour -we all want to see improvement and change in our country - we want moral servant leaders worthy of the name, we want integrity; we want wisdom; we want financial discipline; we want long term planning and investment, and we want to be inspired to give something of ourselves, just where we live, to behold a greater vision of Britannia. In the book of 1 Kings 11 v 4 we read how King Solomon grew old and his wives turned away his heart after other gods. This is where we are right now. Old and inwardly rotting and laying our few remaining possessions at the altars of impotent idols where they are picked over by scavenging dogs.

Be a good egg

A nation is as dysfunctional as it citizens. In the same way that you can’t successfully bake a cake using rotten eggs, you can’t have a thriving country where its citizens are demoralised and prey to dodgy philosophies which jettison the cultural safety rails. People are being hurt - especially the young and the vulnerable. To me, this seems a bad thing. So, if I have to pick a side, I’m on Jesus’ cf Luke 17 v 1-2.

And this gets me neatly onto familiar territory, faith, and I look at this through a Christian lens  - I’ve made assertions above that things are out of kilter. You would be right to ask me by what standard I measure the disequilibrium and I will point to the Eternal standard. I believe there is a righteous way to live. It is difficult but it is rewarding. There are trials, you will not meet the mark, people wilfully mis-understand your striving but yet there is something inside which groans for a way of life that lies just beyond our ken- we sense it at a visceral level. It is like something is broken. When we look around us at a hurting world we know healing is required. But we also know that wounds won’t heal in contaminated environments. Any part of our personal and collective restorative journey is cleaning house.

Loss of Christian confidence

Christianity over the last 100 years has lost its confidence. We used to be an enormous force for social good, fuelled by the transformative power of the gospel. Think of people like Knox, Wilberforce, Wesley and Booth who lived their faith like they believed it. They shaped a culture that influenced the world for the better. There was an optimism, and a determination coupled with action. These days, we are commended to keep the optimism bit (bring it out at Christmas) but discouraged to believe too firmly in anything, unless it is an “approved” concern like climate change. The church has been neutered and in some cases is as exhausted as the society we are supposed to serve. For this the church is being pruned but soon (though not in our lifetimes) I believe it is going to set the world ablaze again and we are going to see a Christianity 2.0.

I tell you why I believe this, because I believe in Jesus and the mission he set for his followers. We are here to fulfil the creation mandate, establish culture and disciple the nations. It is in our DNA. It wasn’t a suggestion, it will happen and I have to admit that I didn’t really understand this until recently. I had absorbed the post-modern and dispensational defeat into my bones. I incorrectly understood that becoming a Christian meant all I had to do was keep the head down, ensure that sin was kept to the lowest level, maybe buy a BMW and then in the fullness of time I’d die and go to glory. What a myopic view of life and purpose.

Over time, the secular structures will collapse under the weight of their own contradictions

Get a rest and a reboot

As I have said earlier, “we can’t do stupid forever” and barring a miracle we can’t change things at the top. So as the church it is time to reassess the world and start building once again from the ground up and create a world that we want to live in. Over time, the secular structures will collapse under the weight of their own contradictions, meaning that misery and chaos will increase. If we have done our job right - There will be curious glances over the garden fence. People will and should wonder why a quaint and old-fashioned people seem so joyful and purposeful despite the widespread loss of hope. The answer, of course, is that we are building a kingdom and we are serving a different king with a different message - while the spirit of the age crushes the people with loads they were not made to carry  - Jesus says “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest”.

As we look around - doesn’t our society need some rested and revived people?