…Well! Openness and transparency have had an interesting effect upon the leaders of the nation. Every day for the past week the Daily Telegraph has tantalisingly drip fed us more and juicier details of the ‘expenses’ and ‘allowances’ claimed by our democratic representatives. Every day the news has been filled with more senior politicians desperately apologising on behalf of “all MP’s” while making it clear that, personally, they have always sought to stay within the letter and spirit of the rules. The reform proposals put forward by the leaders of each of the main political parties appear to be competing, in the words of Ann Widdecombe yesterday, to show that ‘my shirt is hairier than yours’!
As with bankers’ bonuses a few months ago, the revelations of just how assiduously our politicians have focussed on lining their pockets has given all of us a wonderful opportunity to heap opprobrium onto them; and the public, fuelled by the media, has not missed its chance. Isn’t it great to be able to throw brickbats at people who ‘are not us’?
The immediate response of most of the politicians I have heard speaking on the subject has been to agree that abuse of the system has been going on and that ‘all MP’s’ must take responsibility for this but that they are not among the guilty. This reminds me of the response of most people to the words of the Bible in Romans chapter 3 vs 22,23 “there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. We shake our heads solemnly and agree, possibly in the words of the Scottish Book of Common Prayer if we are churchgoers, “we confess to God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, that we have sinned in thought, word, and deed, through our own grievous fault”. Of course this is seen as a general confession, we have all done it – but if you are speaking about me as an individual – well, I’m actually quite an upright chap.
That doesn’t wash of course – and if we are honest with ourselves, we know it. When the Bible says ‘all have sinned’ it means ‘I have sinned’. And if I have sinned then it is also me who has fallen short of ‘the glory of God’ – that is I don’t measure up for entry to Heaven. This is what makes the message of the Gospel so personal. We cannot and dare not deal with it at the level of a general truism about all mankind we must apply it to ourselves.
Having taken that step we can then come into the good of some wonderful promises from God. The Lord Jesus Himself said “I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Mark 2 vs17). If I am a sinner then I am the one he came to call!