‘In a gentle way, you can shake the world.’ (Gandhi)
Or that’s what I’m hoping.
Those of you who read here from around the world may/not know that here in the UK we had our general election last week, to vote for our government for the next five years.
Here in Hastings I voted for our Green Party candidate, Jake Bowers. I knew that in one sense this was a wasted vote. The only two horses in the race, in terms of any actual hope of becoming the government, were the Conservative (sometimes called ‘Tory’) Party or the Labour Party.
I know many people whose heart was for the Green Party in fact voted tactically, casting their vote for whichever best represented their political outlook of the two parties that stood a chance of winning.
I thought about doing this, but I have a particular belief about miracles. I do believe that the single-mindedness of Jesus is a clue to his power expressed in miracles. That power was not because he was a unique being. Jesus said, ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.’ (John 14:12) And I believe Jesus always spoke the truth.
We are made in the image of God, and from God proceeds the reality we call life.
I notice that, in the life of Jesus, nature organizes itself up around him. He stills the storm, he resolves sickness into health, he brings peace to the disordered spirit. Life listens to Jesus. I believe that an important causative component to this is that in Jesus there is no word of a lie. He said that it is the devil who is that father of all lies, who does not abide in truth because the truth is not in him (John 8:44).
Buddhists have a wonderful prayer and precept about refuge. They describe themselves as ‘taking refuge’ spiritually in the Buddha (what I think of as Christ-consciousness), the dharma (the gathered body of wisdom – my equivalent would be the Bible and the Christian tradition) and the sangha (faith community, fellowship of believers). Buddhists say, that in which I take refuge, takes refuge in me. This resonates with that teaching of Jesus about the devil – he takes refuge in lies and lies take refuge in him. Conversely, if you take refuge in truth, truth will take refuge in you. In this resides great (humble) power. It means you become a focus, a lightning conductor for truth. If you take refuge in truth, you also anchor truth where you are. Then that which is dis-eased or dis-ordered returns to its true condition – it is made whole. Jesus, whose being was wholly aligned with truth, whose discipline of life was a conduit of the Father’s love, thus inevitably made whole all he touched.
I don’t in all honesty know if I could do that: but I do know that living authentically is a step towards it. For that reason it is important I vote with my heart, not tactically – tricksyness cannot lead to miracles, cannot invoke the Holy Spirit for the healing of the world. So I voted with my conscience even though I knew my party wouldn’t ‘win’.
The party I voted for, the Green Party, was the only one opposed to fracking. I believe fracking is terribly destructive. Water is inestimably precious. Fracking uses up water, creating drought, and poisons water, as well as land and air. I don’t need to go into this in depth. You can research it very easily online. Terrible stories are emerging of the toxic legacy of fracking. In England, our government sneaked in, at the end of its last term, a law allowing for any waste, including radioactive (nuclear) waste to be dumped anywhere including into fracking holes. It doesn’t take a very bright person to see that if you fracture the substance of the deep earth, creating fissures and instability, then tip radioactive waste into that place, you likely create a big problem. So I used my vote for the only party in the UK opposed to such a course of action.
In the event, the clear winner of the election was the Conservative Party – the one already in government. I will not go into what I think of the Conservative Party, because I don’t want this post to get too long; suffice it to say that those who voted for them did so in the good faith that they stand for social stability and economic strength. I won’t comment on that.
Since the election, the social circles in which I move have been shaken by an outpouring of what it is not too much to call fear and grief.
The Conservative government has put in place many austerity measures that profoundly affect the lives of the poor and disabled. Again, I won’t go into what those measures are, because it would make this post too long, but I will say that it is not without good reason that the anawim are appalled at this election result.
'Anawim' is an Old Testament word. It means ‘little ones’. It refers to all those who are vulnerable and of no account in society; the poor, children, widows, refugees, those who live with sickness and disability.
The context in which I live has been so shaken with these outpourings of honestly felt terror and distress, that I have taken myself apart for a little while to listen to God.
I have many friends among the anawim, and I know numerous people who are now scared that their lives will fall apart, who are frightened for their future. It’s not that they are in a grump because the flavour they voted for was not victorious. It’s not sour grapes. It’s that they honestly fear their future will not now be viable. That they will lose their homes. That such tiny income as they have will be taken away. That they will be left with bills they cannot pay and children they cannot support. They scry into the future and cannot see anything good.
I have taken myself a little way apart to focus upon simplicity and humility, to try if I might to make of my being an anchor for the Light, a calling out to God for truth, justice and mercy; for gentleness, kindness and compassion, for the coming of the Kingdom.
I think there are certain wise practical responses. I do believe that every Christian soul is called to practice a discipline of simplicity – paring down possessions, sharing, asking little. What is sometimes called voluntary poverty. I believe that with this election result the Spirit, who has always been asking us to live with simplicity, is saying to His people in the UK: ‘Now. Do it now.’ We shall need to practice simplicity if we are to take care of one another. The safety nets are about to be taken away. The commitment of our love needs to be there ready for our brother, our sister, in need and distress. I’m not mucking about, friends: I think this is true. This is a time to be careful, prudent, frugal – to give and to share. And I think that time may continue from now until the end. How the details of it apply in the life of each one of us will vary – but I think the principle applies across the board.
But underlying the practical responses there is a spiritual law, and we can count on this.
‘Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.’ (Romans 13:1 KJV)
This doesn’t mean that everyone is subject to the government because the government is God-ordained. It means that everyone, including the government, is subject to the authority of God, whether they know it or not. It means that the only way to live an effective and happy life, whether personally or nationally, is in line with the flow of God’s love and grace, in reverence for His creation, in accordance with His mercy, justice and peace. Anyone who tries to live any other way steps outside the path of blessing and sooner or later will come undone.
‘For there is no power but of God.’
As we still our hearts and minds, focusing into the present moment, listening for the still small voice of God, watching with a quiet eye for what God is doing now so we can join in, this is our watch-word: ‘There is no power but of God.’
It is essential, if we wish our intentions to be fruitful and effective, that we bring our lives into line with those intentions – with our faith. To stand in readiness to help in the coming times, we don’t need to be rich or influential, people of high status. That’s irrelevant. That’s the world’s power; it has all the reliable strength of tinsel.
What is important is that we begin to live like followers of Jesus, and that we keep our faith firmly fixed on this, living in the light of its truth: ‘There is no power but of God.’
And then I do believe, in a gentle way we can shake the world.