Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Philippians 2:1–4
If you were presented with a room filled with world leaders, and given five minutes to tell them anything you wanted, what would you say?
Whether we realised it at the time or not, that was the challenge given recently to Justin Welby for the Queen’s funeral.
Prime ministers, presidents, sheikhs, and emperors (including one whose name literally means ‘heavenly sovereign’, and who many people believe to be divine) were a captive audience to what the Queen had chosen to be her final words to her nation and the world.
And what a selection of words they were: 1 Corinthians 15, Psalm 42, and John 14.
Despite the beauty and powerful truth presented in the readings, songs, and liturgy, few would envy the challenge the Archbishop of Canterbury was presented with. It was only by the power of the Holy Spirit that he could speak such truth with such grace – without compromising, mudslinging, or letting his own political biases cloud his words.
But few of us will have an opportunity like Welby had that day. Most of us are unlikely to meet any of the people sat in that Abbey, let alone all of them.
We can, though, all share the truth of the gospel with others as opportunities come our way – perhaps even in conversations about the Queen’s funeral and the message of hope embedded within it.
And more than that, we can all speak to God himself about these people: to pray for our leaders.
For the first time in modern British history, we’ve seen a new head of state and a new head of government in the space of a week. Neither of these people were elected by a majority – one role is hereditary; the other, at least this time, was elected by just one political party.
We will doubtless have opinions about this. We may not be happy about it, or we may be rejoicing. Either way, God can and does work in and through our political systems – and us, as we engage with them.
However we may feel, let’s pray for our leaders today. For those in government, those in authority, and those who have power over us in our daily lives: bosses and colleagues too. And may we allow the Philippians 2:1–4 life of the church – seeking the interests of others, loving service, truthful words, sacrificial generosity, and abounding humility – to overflow into our scattered lives as Christ’s ambassadors in the world.