BBC Question Time last night left me deeply depressed by petty squabbling over the economy and the lack any real solution to our national problems of unplayable and burgeoning debt, £1,560,000,000,000 which increases by £107,000,000,000 per annum with only £513,000,000,000 tax receipts (or “the deficit” as everyone tamely refers to it) and foodbanks.
What depressed me is that politicians naturally (naively) believe that the solutions are political: increase tax here, reduce spending there, tinker with welfare payments in this way, plough more money into health, adjust the dial here and turn the nob there.
But the solution cannot be by political management and engineering, because the problem is not political it is pastoral. Britain needs a new heart.
Our nation’s heart beats to the tune of remuneration and spending. Money is our god. We have reduced every problem to one which can be paid for. If we find the right person, with the right skills, to address the problem in the right way, and pay them enough, we can fix it.
So, we motivate public service by offering salaries commensurate with the private sector, “in order to attract the right talent.” We encourage individual (credit) spending to increase economic activity, as if rampant consumerism will solve the cash flow problem in the treasury. We define poverty as a lack of food on the table and no roof over our heads.
But what if the love of God and neighbour were our goals? What is life was not about money? What if the self sacrificial love of Christ, who gave his life as a ransom for many, was the heartbeat of our nation?
What if poverty was, therefore, overcome by communities of people who loved God and each other? In these communities, no one went hungry because neighbours shared and looked out for one another? What if those who made it in industry or commerce shared their profits with their neighbours? What if public servants were attracted and motivated to work because it was an opportunity to serve, as Christ came to serve, to show compassion to the hurting and care for the weak?
What if we don’t love like this? Then, what if the God of love is also the God of perfect justice? What if anyone who does not love God and neighbour but loves money instead, has to face the ultimate justice of God?
Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations. Matthew 12:18