Never discuss politics or religion in polite company, so the saying goes. But, keeping it polite, Councillor Stephen Adams (Conservative, Churchfields) explains why Jesus is at the centre of his politics
I became a Christian at the age of 21 on a park bench in Nottingham. Here’s what I came to accept: I am a broken and imperfect individual who rejected God, deserving eternal rejection from him. But God in his love sent Jesus to be punished instead of me by dying on the cross and being raised again, proving he’d paid the price and presenting me blameless before God. Jesus went to great lengths to serve me, so in my thankfulness I should be prepared to do the same for others.
Many say that religion should stay out of politics. I find this an odd statement, since our democracy relies on input and representation from all elements of our society. For me, it is impossible to separate the two. Jesus is at the centre of my life, which includes my work. It is because of this that I can serve my residents with dedication and integrity. Christ makes me look outside of myself, and towards others. The importance of faith is even recognised in the private sector through workplace diversity groups. I work for one of the Big Four accounting firms where I help to lead a Christian group of around 500 people.
Theresa May, in her final Prime Minister’s Questions in Parliament, gave the advice “to be true to yourself”. Statements such as these are widely taught to young children and are commonly held values in our society. In my opinion, they are the antithesis of Christian teaching, causing people to look inwardly rather than outwardly, putting themselves first. The Bible challenges me to think of others, even when my instincts urge me to look out for number one. I fear this mindset is declining in our society. Figures from the Charities Aid Foundation show charitable giving in the UK is falling in real terms, both nominally and on a per capita basis.
Being a local councillor is about serving the residents in your ward. I have to balance a full-time job in the City with resident meetings, committee meetings, hundreds of emails, litter picking, and more. On top of this, I volunteer my time with charities like Tearfund, who help others in poverty around the world. Without a servant mindset, I would not be able to fulfil my role effectively. Remembering that Jesus served me, especially when I did not merit his favour, helps me serve others. This is especially true during periods of business and mental fatigue.
We are in an era where people complain that many politicians are self-serving, a claim I believe is exaggerated. Nevertheless, society gets the politicians they deserve. I hope it can be said of me that I have been the servant of others. As Jesus said: “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” (Mark 9:35).