In the aftermath of any general election, but perhaps this one more than most, there is some serious scrutiny of the performances of the leaders. Believe me, I know!
Whether your hopes were buoyed by Boris or crushed by Corbyn the question of which leader you voted for ultimately came down to which one you trusted. Johnson said he would ‘get Brexit done’ and enough people believed him, while many felt that Corbyn's message lacked consistency, clarity and credibility. We’re now left with a colossal Conservative majority and the worst Labour result since 1935.
But even with the success of his campaign, I don't expect Johnson to rest on his laurels. He knows he was elected on borrowed votes and he needs to deliver for voters his party have previously left behind. He will pay a heavy price if he disappoints them or fails to deliver.
I am now going to let you in on a secret: Boris Johnson will fail to deliver, he will definitely disappoint you. Boris will let you down; Boris is not the answer.
Before you switch off, thinking that this is just another lefty-liberal-anti-Boris-rant, I promise you its not. He may be a phenomenal leader and it is my sincere hope that he will make us more united and more prosperous. But ultimately, love him or loathe him, there will be ways in which he will fail to deliver as a leader. Because he is a human being.
Lots of promises were made over the course of the election campaign. And it is perhaps fitting that the election has wound to a close just before we break for Christmas. Because as the election promises fade away, we can instead now focus on the huge promises made by God. The classic carol service readings (Isaiah 9 and 11 and Micah 5) were prophecies written hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus. These passages promised a saviour for a broken world. After the messiness and division of the general election I don’t imagine it would be a hard job to convince you that the world isn’t functioning as it should and that healing is something we need.
We all crave good leadership. Leadership we can trust, leadership we know is working for our good. This is a desire that goes beyond our immediate security and present comfort into the way we have been wired. At our church last Sunday we were looking at the book of Matthew, which begins with a long list of names. It's a chequered genealogy of fallen kings, mistreated women and unpronounceable names (like Jehoshaphat and Zerubabbel). This is not a group of people whose Facebook history would have stood much scrutiny. But this rag tag bunch, and the 42 generations they represent, is a demonstration of God's faithfulness, a procession announcing his promised king.
God doesn’t go back on his promises, he doesn’t forget them and so far he has a 100% success rate in keeping them
God doesn’t go back on his promises, he doesn’t forget them and so far he has a 100% success rate in keeping them. There are all sorts of reasons politicians, or anyone else for that matter, fail to keep their promises. Sometimes it’s a choice, sometimes it’s a change in circumstance, sometimes they simply lack the power to deliver. None of these are a problem for God. He is all powerful, all knowing and completely true to his word.
We may be waiting to see if Johnson will be the leader we hoped for, or we may be looking to new leaders for our hope. But it's Christmas and so I am allowed to say this: Stop looking! Two thousand years ago our hope arrived. A leader who brought love, justice and power. A leader who fulfilled promises and brought certain hope. A leader we can completely trust and utterly depend on.
We may be waiting to see if Johnson will be the leader we hoped for. But this Christmas, stop looking! Two thousand years ago our hope arrived
You might be thinking that nothing I've said so far is news. In fact, it is pretty much the conclusion you've already reached. 'Politicians fail us, and we’re fed up with the lot of them! Why bother engaging in politics at all? After all, we know it’ll all be alright in the end.' If that is how you're thinking, I have a challenge for you: Christmas isn’t just a time when we remember the fulfilment of God’s promises in Jesus, it is a time when we remember how he chose to do it. He did not stay distant and aloof. He didn’t disengage with the mess of his wayward people. He saw the mucky business of the world he had made and he stepped into it. Where it would have made sense to be exasperated and to leave us to it, he had compassion and mercy and he got involved.
Ultimately our efforts will not be the answer. We are part of the world's problem, not its solution. But if you are a Christian you follow a king who looked on a broken world in love and compassion and stepped down in humility to save it. If the world is going to believe that is the kind of king we follow, should we not be doing the same?
Politics matters. It affects people’s lives. We mustn’t blend in and join the endless ranks of grumblers and moaners, but we mustn’t run for the bunker either. If the gospel is ever going to ring true, Christians and the Church need to engage, to serve and love our country and our neighbour. So I plead with you not to wash your hands of politics this Christmas. You don’t need to despair, but it is absolutely essential that you care.
Tim Farron is the MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale and the former Leader of the Liberal Democrats. Click here to read our Profile interview with him
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