The longest-reigning monarch in British history, Queen Elizabeth II, passed away on September 8 at the age of 96. Just two days before, she had appointed Liz Truss as Prime Minister, replacing Boris Johnson as Prime Minister, who had resigned from his position. It is certainly a time of transition, even upheaval, in the British government.
But what led to Johnson stepping down? There is evidence that it proceeded from…a prayer meeting!
According to the website for The Bible Society:
…it was the sermon given by Revd Les Isaac at the National Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast (NPPB) that triggered Sajid Javid’s resignation as Health Secretary. His decision to quit set the dominoes falling: a wave of departures led to the Prime Minister’s exit.
In his devastating personal statement to the Commons he had referenced the sermon, with its call to ‘serve the interests of others above your own and to seek the common good of your party, your community and above all your country’. On Sunday morning, however, he told the BBC’s Sophie Raworth: ‘I was listening to him talking about the importance of integrity in public life and, just focusing on that, I made up my mind.
‘I went straight back to my office and drafted the resignation letter and went to see the Prime Minister later in the day.’
At the breakfast, according to the site, “… biblical truth was spoken in a way that cut through Westminster’s high-volume moral muddles and triggered real change.”
According to Premier Christian News, the speaker at the event, Les Isaac, “is the founder and CEO of Ascension Trust and also a pioneer of Street Pastors.” The report says that Isaac’s message included a reference to Psalm 23:4.
The Premier article goes on to say that Isaac…
…also spoke of Jesus expecting us to serve in humility quoting Philippians 2:8: “And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross!”
Singer-songwriter Andy Flannagan was leading worship at the event, which heralded the start of the International Ministerial Conference on Freedom of Religion or Belief. He told Premier the presence of the Holy Spirit was palpable.
“It’s quite remarkable. It felt really significant. There were what you might describe as holy moments where God’s presence was just irresistible. It was profound and powerful.
Former Finance Minister and a finalist for the position of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also resigned his position the same day, representing two high-profile leaders who had stepped aside, weakening Johnson’s position and apparently ultimately triggering Johnson’s resignation.
Flannagan wrote at Christian Today: It would be so easy just to focus on the failings of one person, but the events of this week reflect the collapse of integrity in leadership more widely. Covid season especially has awakened us to the importance of integrity and how important it is to have a track record in telling the truth.
He also said, “We have to challenge the violation of ethics that we have seen in the political leadership of this land – and also those who went along with it for many years.”
It would be easy to make Boris Johnson the pantomime villain, but the sad fact is that we’re talking about a culture. At a time when we are desperate to see more ethics in our leadership, sadly, it’s a whole culture that has let us down as opposed to just one person.
We can remember that the stage for this major change in leadership was actually set by a sermon, a proclamation of Biblical truth. I think it can be a reminder to us of the power of God’s Word. Because we say that the Word will not return void, that should inspire us to continue to speak it, trust in it and model our lives by it.
We also can be challenged to live lives of integrity. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is leaving the office in part because of backlash over not abiding by COVID restrictions that his government imposed upon the people. That’s not an isolated case: we’ve seen American politicians do the same thing, putting restrictions on people to curb COVID, but then the discovery is made that they are not abiding by the same rules. Jesus took the religious leaders of His day to task for putting rules in place for the people under their jurisdiction but acting in a different way themselves.
We are in need of strong moral leadership. Where are the statesmen? The stateswomen? In a time in which this type of leadership is needed in our country and the Church, who will step up and lead on principle? We can each be challenged to be the person who demonstrates the demeanor of Christ and relies on His wisdom.