The message of Easter for politicians
Writing exclusively for Endeavour Public Affairs, David Burrowes MP, reflects on the message of Easter and its relevance to politicians today. He concludes that it is the example of Christ’s life which motivates Christian politicians to pursue service rather than power, truth rather than lies, and compassion rather than indifference.
David Burrowes is the Conservative Member of Parliament for Enfield, Southgate and is Parliamentary Chairman of Conservative Christian Fellowship.
To follow David Burrowes on Twitter – @davidburrowesmp
700 years before Christ was born we read about the Easter story through the words of the prophet Isaiah, which are clearly devoid of political spin:
‘He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.’
During Jesus’ lifetime politicians did not know what to do with him. Some wanted to ignore him, some preferred to ridicule him, others decided to condemn him and others feared him, even wanting to suppress or kill him.
On the day of Jesus’ crucifixion the politicians must have been full of derision for the carpenter’s son who claimed to be the Son of God. Jesus was now facing the most horrific punishment in the Roman Empire designed to cause the victim, his friends, and family the maximum pain and shame. As he hung on the cross outside Jerusalem’s city walls they must have been giving each other the ‘I told you so’ looks as they saw a tortured, humiliated, lifeless figure. They could imagine the headlines the next day “Failure!”
How extraordinary then that over 2000 years later I am a Christian politician writing an article about Jesus’ death on the cross! The failure now is in the plan to suppress the message and mission of Jesus. His death and resurrection were deliberate planned events providing victory over death. The Bible tells us that because of the Easter events ‘whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life’. That message of good news has been received across the globe and in increasing numbers. Even now in countries where politicians are trying to suppress the message of the cross and resurrection, the growth in the number of Christians is rapid. For example, in Iran where proclaiming Christ in public is effectively banned, there are reported to be over a million Christians who will be worshipping at Easter time.
I have believed in Jesus Christ ever since Easter 1982 when I heard a youth worker speak about the fact that Jesus actually loved me (and the world) so much so that He died for me. It is His death and resurrection that mean more to me than all the other events in my life – my marriage, children, election as an MP, and even Arsenal winning the FA cup this year! I am not alone as a Christian politician in that view and it is heartening to read the diaries of great politicians like William Wilberforce, who see all their achievements pale into insignificance compared to knowing their crucified and risen Saviour. Or as Paul said in one of his letters to a church in Greece, ‘I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord’.
The events of Good Friday and Easter Sunday mark our calendar and have now a fairly marginal influence on our national life with a minority attending church services at this time. Yet the impact of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection goes beyond religious observance and extends far and wide. Jesus’ last words on the cross forgiving a thief made it clear that the offer of eternal life is open to all and based not on good works but on trusting what he has done for us on the cross. Jesus Christ life death and resurrection are of course central to the Christian, including the reason for being involved in politics. It means MPs can pray with conviction the words that have been spoken by the Speaker’s Chaplain at the start of each day in the Commons for the last 500 years:
‘May they never lead the nation wrongly through love of power, desire to please, or unworthy ideals but laying aside all private interests and prejudices keep in mind their responsibility to seek to improve the condition of all mankind’.
It is the example of Christ’s life which motivates Christian politicians to pursue service rather than power, truth rather than lies, and compassion rather than indifference. It is Christ’s death which compels Christian politicians to love even our enemies rather than hate, to forgive rather than condemn, to reconcile rather than divide, and to serve others sacrificially rather than oneself selfishly. It is Christ’s resurrection which gives Christian politicians hope rather than despair and assurance of eternal life rather than death. Now that’s a manifesto worth reading! But don’t take a politician’s word for it; why not check out one of the gospel accounts this Easter which describe the events that changed the world?
Published: Tuesday 15 April 2014
© Copyright of Endeavour Public Affairs 2014
Photograph: © Copyright of David Burrowes MP
The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone