The general election has produced a result very few people expected and thrown the UK's immediate future into uncertainty. Christians are called to trust and pray for God's future in the light of his promises. Here are five Bible verses that help us think about what's happened and pray into the dilemmas our country faces today.
1. 'Pride goes...before a fall' (Proverbs 16:18).
The book of Proverbs is full of pithy wisdom. The complete verse says: 'Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.' This should challenge our country. Should a snap election have been called based on a poll that promised a 20-point lead, apparently putting party standing before the national interest? Was this a necessary move to enable a Brexit mandate, a miscalculation of public opinion, or a proud gamble? Is there a sense of poetic justice in the results? Today the post-election analysis is full of reactions to these questions and many more. But we should beware: the verse in question is a double-edged sword, because if we use it to criticise someone else it may well expose our own pride. Rather than crowing, we should be ensuring our own responses today remain humble, standing with the broken and putting the needs of others above those of ourselves.
2. 'Without a vision the people perish' (Proverbs 29:18)
Perhaps by the end of this campaign we are tired of hearing about 'vision' and those manifesto catchphrases. All those promises of a strong and stable leadership, or putting the needs of the many above the needs of the few. It's hard to trust talk about vision when it feels like leaders can't deliver it, won't stick to it, may not fund it or won't debate it. Perhaps a clearly elected majority government would not have honoured the vision anyway. But now with a hung parliament, the country is in flux. More than ever we need a hope and vision to live with confidence as we face the future. We need to pray for our new government, that they would be inspired by God's revelation of a future Kingdom where grace, truth, integrity, humility, compassion and love are the dominant virtues.
3. 'A house divided against itself... cannot stand' (Mark 3:25)
This quote comes from Jesus himself. Although he used it to defend himself against accusations of demon possession, it was also supposed to be a challenge to the Pharisees. How could they preach and teach about God on one hand, and not recognise him on the other? It is a challenge for our country today too. The animosity between the main parties and their leaders has not proved to be good for themselves or the country. Some of my friends have been avoiding social media because they could not cope with the dehumanising language being used by people from all sides.
We saw something very different from this kind of polarisation in the response of ordinary people to the terror attacks. People from all walks of life, from different countries, put themselves in danger to protect strangers with whom they shared a common humanity. It would be good if some of that spirit could invade our political life. Perhaps we could pray today that our hung parliament might provoke collaboration and discussion that can bridge the divisions – not just between Conservatives and Labour, but between rich and poor, north and south, old and young, secular and spiritual.
4. 'But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!' (Amos 5:24)
In the book of Amos, God challenges his people to be careful about substituting ritual for righteousness, for offering songs instead of social justice. Much of the election campaign has exposed large social challenges that our nation faces in healthcare, refugee response and poverty. We should pray for our government today, that has a responsibility to steward the nation's resources well on behalf of the whole population, but as God's people we should live lives of justice too, taking responsibility to demonstrate grace and compassion to those in need.
5. 'Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding' (Proverbs 3:15).
I found myself becoming very emotionally engaged with this election, getting angry and excited and shocked as the results came in. It is easy to be swayed by the mood of the media. Some will see the result today as a catastrophe, others as a cause for celebration. Ultimately as Christians our hope is not in a political personality, party or system. We may not understand what has happened to our country over the past few months, but we can trust God and live as his people, for his glory, in the power of his Spirit, whatever the circumstances.
Dr Krish Kandiah is a contributing editor to Christian Today. His latest book, 'God is Stranger', offers a challenging way to understand the role of justice and hospitality in our worship of God.