// non-conformism

Westminster“Without vision, the people perish,” the author of one proverb says, and it’s a saying that’s worth bearing in mind especially given the events of the past fortnight. We’re at the point now where enough has been said about MPs expenses that no more ink need be spilled upon it, but the saddest thing about the whole affair is how it just proved everyone’s unspoken, cynical beliefs to be right. Of course MPs cheat their expenses, we shout, as that’s just who they are. That is, apparently, the way the world works, and for all this talk of independent bodies and greater accountability, the stereotype of MPs that currently exists isn’t one that’s likely to change any time soon.

Seriously, was it really necessary to slot into the pattern in such an arbitrary way? Surely now you have to look at what happened in light of the wider culture – general, not just political – that’s in place in Britain, see an individualistic society that prizes individual gain and then see the chaos of the last few weeks as simply the logical end-point of that system. So this is the way the world works, and so somewhere down the line there are always going to be people cheating their expenses and an outraged public baying for blood, as that’s the pattern.

Excuse me if that’s a pattern that doesn’t really appeal to me that much anymore.

The Prophet Joel famously described a time when God declares,

I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your old men will dream dreams,
your young men will see visions.
Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,

and it’s a passage that Peter picks up on, too, early in the description of the Acts of the Apostles. Joel describes a time of inspiration, of redemption and of hope even in the midst of darkness, and given the events of the past two weeks, you’d be hard pressed to deny that we need those kinds of dreamers and visionaries now more than ever. We need people who are prepared to dream that things could be different, prepared to trust in that vision of hope that is laid out in Scripture, to break the pattern…

That’s a vision for all of us, not just the ones who literally have prophetic dreams, with whom God seems to work in dramatic ways. We all need to break that pattern, to stop thinking as though the ways of this world are unstoppable, unchangeable, and fixed. It doesn’t have to be this way. I’ve blogged before about Paul’s letter to the Romans, when he declares that we need to “conform no longer to the pattern of this world”, but I, like so many others, got caught up in that same way of thinking when this story about our MPs first broke. That same weary sigh of, ‘here we go again’.

We need people, more than ever, who are radical examples of what a life lived for God looks like, who live with vision and who model that vision in their communities and to a cynical world. We need dreamers and visionaries, who are prepared to step out and do things that look crazy or hopeless in order to prove that there is still a different way of seeing and doing things. Sure, there’s a place for sadness regarding what happened at Westminster in the past few weeks, but it can’t just stop with weary resignation. We need people, or more specifically, we need you; to see that vision of something more, a better way of doing things, and to start dreaming again.

Cynical as I may be about our political culture, then, I’m not losing hope just yet.

As this isn’t over yet.

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