Friday, 12 June 2015

The Last Call- A Different Kind of Election Part 3

  It was the last call I was going to make that evening. Just 2 hours before the polling stations closed. I was hungry for what was left of the curry at the ward base camp. This should be a short one. They’d probably voted already anyway. After all, they hadn’t far to walk. I could actually see the polling station from their front step, no more than 50 metres away. The door was opened by a slim , raven-haired white lady. Pretty bright blue eyes, but a furrowed forehead and thin angry mouth. I thought I vaguely recognised her from years ago. From school may be, but a few years below me? She scowled at my rosette. This was not promising. I checked my notes. Yes right house number. Supposedly they were voting for us.

 “Good evening  Mrs -------.  Sorry to disturb you. I’m Jeremy from the local Labour party. Just calling to check if you’d been able to vote this evening?”

 “To be honest I don’t think I’m going to vote.”

  “Oh really, why’s that?”

  “What’s the point?  It won’t make any difference. You’re all as bad as one another.”

   Perhaps I should just let this one go, catch up with Les and “MH” then head back for some curry? But no, I thought, one last push, one final conversation. Of course, one vote on its own wouldn’t make any difference, but if we all thought like that…After all, this could be one of thousands of late canvassing conversations around the country. Together, collectively these last calls could make all the difference. Couldn’t they?

  “I think there is a difference you know. It’s important what’s at stake at this election. The Tories if they get in are going to take our public spending on a “roller coaster road”, with £30 billion of cuts. That won’t be good for the economy or ordinary families like yours… Child tax credit…”

   “Well, I’m not voting for them either. But none of you lot help us. All those people coming over here. They get the first choice of houses, the pick of the jobs. Not our kids. We need to look after our own.”

   “Well, Labour have accepted they didn’t get things quite right over immigration last time. They would require EU migrants to work for 2 years before they got benefits."
 Still scowling.

 “… but  I’m afraid free movement of labour is part of the rules of the European club, if we want the benefits of being part of the club…thousands of jobs rely on us being part of Europe, but the Tories would put all that at risk. Our kid’s futures…”
 Still scowling.

 “So what about all the others coming over here?”

  “Actually you know immigrants contribute more in taxes than they take … our NHS couldn’t cope without all the doctors and nurses from overseas.”
   Yes, still scowling.

  “Well, how come that lot are allowed to go round with their ceremonial swords? We’d get arrested if we did that.”
    And now I’m scowling.

    And after a bit more word-jousting, I signed off as I’d started; “Good evening, Mrs -------.”


 The lady on that last call clearly wasn’t listening. Or if she was listening she wasn’t hearing. Her heart was hardened. Whatever I said she was determined not to believe me. She’d already made up her mind. The polling station was only 50 yards away, but it might as well as been 50 light years away. She wasn’t going to vote for us. She wasn’t going to vote for anyone. Yet by choosing not to vote she was kind of voting by default. Like nearly a third of those entitled to vote, she was choosing to let everyone else decide who should run the country.

   But there’s a much more important choice we have to make, a much more important election, whose results we’ll have to live with not just for 5 years, but for the whole of eternity. But, as with the general election, so many of us won’t engage in the process. We won’t be making a choice. We’ll be copping out.  And yet by not taking a decision, we are still making a choice, a choice by default.

  The choice I’m talking about is whether we choose Jesus as our leader.  Whether we “vote” for him or not I believe Jesus is one day going to return to rule the world. But he won’t force his rule on us. We have to choose him if we want him to be our ruler.

 But with him the election is not so much his election as ours.  It’s God who gets the vote. Will he elect us to be part of his new society, part of his wonderful new kingdom on earth? According to the bible, the answer is starkly simple. Everyone who votes for Jesus he too will vote for and accept as a citizen of his heavenly kingdom.  Apart from Jesus, “there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:11), and the bible guarantees this; “everyone who calls on Him [Jesus] will be saved “(Acts 2:21) and thereby become a citizen of his fantastic future kingdom, glimpsed in Revelation 21 . And if we choose not to believe in Him…. then we are choosing to exclude ourselves from His kingdom, forever (John 3 v 16-18). 

 So what about those who never hear about Jesus in this life, who never get the opportunity to “vote”? The bible doesn’t tell us. May be like the criminals dying on the cross next to Jesus they get   their chance, as a one to one with Him, just as they die? (Luke 23:39-43). Only God knows and we just have to trust Him to act justly. (Genesis 18:22-26).

 But for most people in this country who have heard about Jesus they do have a choice, a vote now. This is our opportunity. We have to seek him while he may be found, call on while he is near (Isaiah 55:6). There won’t be any more chances to vote for Him in the next life, for we are “destined to die once and after that to face judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27). Once our life’s bell tolls the polling station closes. Yet like that lady I last called on we’re actually very close to that eternal polling station. God is much nearer to all of us than we think (Acts 17:26-31). As and when we reach out to Him, He reaches out to us- “come near to God and He will come near to you”. (James 4:8-10)  But if we “harden our hearts”, if we close our minds off to Him we’ll never find Him. (Hebrews 3: 15)   If we want to be one of the elect, one of the chosen citizens of his amazing kingdom on earth when he returns we need to vote for Jesus now.

  But isn’t it just naïve wishful thinking that King Jesus will one day return to put the world right? Most people would say so and of course being a predicted future event there is no way I can prove it will happen. Yes it is a matter of faith. And yet it’s not simply blind, irrational faith. It’s a faith based on a past track record. This guy has history for pulling off the impossible. According to the most reliable ancient records that we have (the new Testament gospels-yes, you heard right!) this man lived a life of miracles, culminating in the greatest miracle of all; by rising from the dead three days after his crucifixion, just as he’d predicted he would. And if he didn’t do then there are some things you have to seriously wonder at. Like how on earth did a strange sect of the national religion of a tiny state at the far reaches of the Roman empire not just die out with its failed leader? How come I 3,000 miles away and 2,000 years later believe in him? How did his frightened, abandoned, mostly uneducated followers manage to spread his message to the centre of the Roman empire within only a generation? And how and why were most of them prepared to sacrifice their lives for what they must have known to be a lie?  How did his message, instead of dying out with him, reach and transform the lives of millions of people from “every tribe, nation and language”?

  And if Jesus really did do the “impossible” by overcoming death, just as he predicted, you have to start taking seriously his other prediction; the prediction that he will one day return to earth to bring his heavenly kingdom. 

  Jesus might not return until many years after we die. But, as Daniel prophesied, when he does those who have died in Him and “sleep…will awake…to everlasting life” (Daniel 12:1-3). As “the last trumpet call” sounds they will be “transformed” into immortal beings (1 Corinthians 15:51-54), fit to be citizens of his heavenly city, fit to return to earth to rule the kingdom with King Jesus. (Daniel 7:18).

  Of course, I might just be completely wrong. Just like, I believe, many people were deceived by the Tory spin and lies at the last election, perhaps the millions like me who believe in Jesus have been taken in by the church’s spin and lies? All I can say is that I have at least carefully (and prayerfully) looked into it. Just like I carefully (and prayerfully) looked into the claims, counter claims and manifestos of the parties before the last election . Only then did I sign up, campaign and vote for the Labour party. I looked at the actual evidence, rather than just relying on my natural instincts or the headline media spin. By doing so, I believe I found out for myself , for example, the truth about the cause of the economic crash, our debt /deficit and who actually  had the better record of economic competence. And it was not the Conservatives!  (Taking a look at a graph of our historical debt and deficit will give you quite a strong clue). Unfortunately, what the conservatives did have was the better evangelists!

 Of course, I know full well that there are others who have looked just as closely into these things and came to the opposite conclusion. Either of us could be wrong, but at least we’ve seriously looked into it. Sadly, most of the electorate either failed to consider their vote in very much depth or (a third) failed to vote at all. But if I’m right, something much greater is at stake with Jesus. And yet how many of us have really looked into the evidence about Jesus, his claims and manifesto?  Not all people who have carefully looked into the truth about Jesus have accepted Him, but a great deal of them have. What he is claiming (if true) is literally earth-shattering, universe-shattering,  (yes even) multiverse-shattering. It would be of eternal importance for our lives. So, so much more important than any general election. 

  Aren’t his claims at least worth looking into? Or will we just make a decision by default, to reject him and risk missing out on that last call, risk missing out on our election to eternal life?

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