house of cards

17 07 2011

It’s terrifying when it all comes tumbling down. The world so carefully crafted around you, a world built around friendships and favours, shared interests and mutual fears. A world carefully controlled by the interlocking spiderwebs of self-interest and self-preservation. A world in which the original reason you built  your house of cards is long-forgotten amidst the task of maintaining your current position.

Maybe this is News International. Maybe this is the continuing revelations about deep corruption at the heart of our free press, elected politicians and our Police force. That is certainly a house of cards that is tumbling, tumbling, tumbling. How far will it fall?

It’s made me think about, well, me. Us. About how easy it is to get drawn in, to take a simple and firm foundation and begin to build on it with cards. After all, we are called to influence the world we live in; so it is important to know people to be able to do that. So how do we choose those worth knowing? Card 1. We cannot know everyone, so who do we ditch? Card 2. It is important to have the press onside. Card 3. Better the devil you know. Card 4.

Jesus had an unusual relationship with the ruling elite. They wanted him as one of them, but they couldn’t have him. The Pharisees saw his qualities and some of them saw his truth – see Nicodemus – but he was too risky for them. They had a house of cards they did not want the Spirit to blow through. Position, favour, reputation. White-washed tombs, Jesus called them. Looks great on the outside, but contains only death within. Harsh?

It’s easy to knock those in the public eye. As the webs of deceit and corruption surrounding surrounding News International and our ruling elite are exposed, it is easy to look in righteous anger. And rightly so. Yet in that old cliche from the 90’s, What Would Jesus Do?

Remove the plank from your own eye before you point out the speck in your brother’s.

I know the church has friends in high places. Not just the ‘established‘ church, though of course we probably go as high as it’s possible, what with the Queen being the Supreme Governor of the church and our Bishop’s sitting in the House of Lord’s. There’s also many Christian lobbying groups and think-tanks, from Theos to Ekklesia to CARE to Faithworks and Charities Parliament; there’s well-known and unknown Christians at the heart of our decision-making, like Steve Chalke to Rowan Williams and many others from across the spectrum of evangelical to Catholic, conservative to liberal.

We must pray for them. We must help in holding them all to account, whether we support them or not. Do they get too close, or not close enough? Are they blowing on the house of cards, or helping build one? We’re in it together. We’re about Jesus, not reputation. Kingdom, not personal empire, whether we mix with Prime Ministers or local councillors or the local gang leader.

There’s a lot of houses of cards out there. It’s good to blow on them. It’s not good to sit on them.

Though we cannot help it. After all, what is faith, if not a house of cards?


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