Losing our Moral Compass.
There’s been so much going on in the world that is worthy of reflection. In recent months we have seen
a marked increase in youth crime and violent attacks (though it should be noted statistics point to a
reduction in more 'petty' criminal activity - what is 'petty' though?). We have seen a collapse in our
financial institutions in 'East Minster' (London's Square Mile) and a collapse in moral leadership from
our politicians in 'West Minster'. It would seem that the foundations of our national institutions have
been badly shaken.
All of the T.V. shows have had their two 'pennith': commenting upon how things have got so badly wrong.
The area of debate leant itself to become one of the themes of our Café Church services on Sunday
evenings. (We have looked at 'The Dawkins Debate' and Darwinism). Maybe - if the world still feels
'upside down' in the Autumn, we shall revisit the subject on a Sunday evening. There are a number of
business and political observers who can inform our thoughts. But for now here are some thoughts from
Christian commentators I respect:
On "MP's expenses."
The system, designed to ensure MPs aren't left out of pocket for legitimate expenses incurred in the
course of their work, isn't the problem. The creation of such a system is good, very good. The problem
is the selfishness and greed of those who abuse the system in order to fill their pockets. Justifying
their actions with reference to the letter of the law, they wilfully disregard the spirit of the law.
In other words, the real problem here is what the Bible calls sin.
To cast the present scandal in terms of the words of Jesus, it is from within, out of the heart, that
greedy expenses claims come (Mark 7:20-23). Making a scapegoat of the system may be to join the Pharisees
in cleaning 'the outside of the cup and dish', but inside remaining 'full of greed and self-indulgence'
(Matthew 23:25). The system, like the Daily Telegraph, can expose sin, but it can't do anything about
it. Only Christ can do that. Ultimately, there is no solution to the scandal of MPs' expenses apart from
the scandal of the cross.
Not that we should sit in judgement. The current crisis begs the question of our own integrity. Be it
in regard to our own work expenses, or anything else, we must all contend with the truth that our actions
betray our allegiance. As we do so, we might find we have more in common with the Commons than we thought.
Nigel Hopper (London Institute for Contemporary Christianity.)
On the "Credit Crunch"
As our political leaders have recently observed, 'markets do not self regulate'. Unfortunately, neither
do Governments. It is not the system of capitalism or socialism that is broken. The system that is broken
is the human heart. This is the inconvenient truth sidelined in the public soul-searching for explanations.
The repeating poisonous cycle of greed, deception, fear, denial and guilt, and then the collapse of trust,
are all symptoms of a deep selfishness in humanity.
Yet there is hope. Easter remembers the open secret that most of the world ignores - the perfect sacrifice
of Christ ... Something far more profound and permanent than an economic stimulus is on offer. The forces
of greed and consumerism can be neutralised. Christians can make a difference. The Spirit of Jesus, living
in his people, can put righteousness back into the heart of leadership, and human flourishing back into
the heart of business.
Paul Valler (London Institute for Contemporary Christianity.)
In the last week, I have been off to vote and do my self-assessed tax return. In my small way, I have
significant moral decisions to make in the political and economic arena. How will I act? How will you act?
God promises to help and sustain us through tough economic and political times, but only if we turn to
him and walk in his ways. "This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord.
I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds." Then he adds: "Their sins and
lawless acts I will remember no more" (Hebrews 10:16-17). May we live by such a covenant.
Yours, in his service