Politics Network goes to Scotland!
The following blog was written by Glasgow CU member, David Meiklejohn.
Politics Network in Scotland
This academic year has seen the introduction and development of a new Glasgow-wide Politics Network group. In light of the heightened political interest surrounding Brexit and the perpetual debate on Scottish independence, this group has been a real encouragement for politically-minded Christian students to boldly serve Christ in the political sphere.
In January we had the privilege of having Peter Harris, UCCF Staff Worker and Politics Network Co-ordinator, to visit Glasgow for a few days. The current political climate made this both an excellent evangelistic opportunity and a chance to equip Christian students to live out their faith in politics.
To that end, Glasgow University Christian Union firstly hosted a lunch bar at which Peter tackled the question of ‘A kinder, gentler politics. Do we get the politics we deserve?’ Secondly, a Politics Network event was put on for students from across Scotland, which Peter again spoke at.
A Kinder, Gentler Politics
The lunch bar was held on Thursday 24thJanuary on the University of Glasgow campus. The event was run twice, from 12pm to 1pm and 1pm to 2pm, to maximise the opportunity for students to come and hear the Good News of Jesus Christ. After receiving their free lunch, students heard the talk from Peter addressing the fractured state of our politics. The example of Jeremy Corbyn’s promise of a ‘kinder, gentler politics’ in his first speech to the Labour Party Conference as party leader was an effective comparator to the reality of fractious ideological divide, personal abuse and vitriol across the political spectrum.
The diagnosis was clear and irrefutable – our politics is broken. But more than that, it was shown that the root problem is not politics. The fault instead lies with the human heart, and political scandal and corruption is emblematic of our fallen state.
Equally certain, however, is the solution – the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Students heard about how our innate desire for identity, leadership and integrity is only truly satisfied in Christ, not politics. It was affirmed that politics is a worthy endeavour, and brings many opportunities to do good in society. However, it was made clear that we should place politics in its proper place – and not use it is a substitute for the true and genuine hope that is only found in Jesus.
It was a joy to see so many students who are not yet Christians come along. Those students heard a clear articulation of how the brokenness we see in politics is reflected in our own broken lives, and that Christ offers hope for society as a collective and for us as individuals. It has been encouraging to hear stories of students who had their interest sparked and signed up to read through the Gospel of Mark with a CU member. On top of that, many subsequently came along to events during the CU’s missions week in early February, which Peter publicised during his talk.
Politics Network Event
The success of the lunch bar was followed the next day, on Friday 25thJanuary, by a Politics Network event in the city centre of Glasgow. This event was for Christian students from all around Scotland. Students from Edinburgh, Glasgow and as far afield as Aberdeen were in attendance. The evening began with free pizza and an interview with Peter to introduce himself and explain more about the need for, and work of, the Politics Network.
This was followed by a political quiz (a niche form of fun!) and an interview with Rory Smith MSYP. Rory is a Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament, representing Scripture Union Scotland, and shared his experiences of living out his faith as a Christian in this context. In particular, Rory spoke of the very real challenges in being unashamedly faithful to God’s Word in light of clear opposition. This was helpful, and encouraging, and it led into discussion of difficult issues that Christians will face in politics, and how we can respond by sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ. We then spent time praying about this – that we may be bold in proclaiming Christ, and would not shy away from future engagement with politics and from faithfully serving Christ there.
The main takeaway from the evening was to continue pursuing political engagement, and to use that as an opportunity to serve Christ and live out his Gospel. It was really helpful to think through practical steps regarding how we can do this. The feedback from students has been very positive, and in particular CU members found it useful to have the link between their political interests and the Gospel demonstrated so clearly.
It was an exciting couple of days having both the lunch bar and Scottish Politics Network event. The CU in Glasgow had never before, in recent history, put on a politically themed lunch bar, but the success of the event and the interest it generated on campus means it is certainly something we would hope to do again.