29th May 2020
Did Dominic Cummings break lockdown rules when he went to stay in County Durham? What about driving to Barnard Castle to test his eyesight? You may have noticed, there are strong feelings on all sides. Was he doing what any father would have done? Should he resign, or be sacked? Is this simply political point-scoring by those who’ve never liked him? Most likely, it’s a combination of all those things.
Still, this is not the place to come to a judgment. Partly because I don’t know enough, and partly for a reason I’ll give later. But there are a few things that occur to me.
First, we’re right to expect higher standards from our leaders, especially if they expect us to follow their lead. Surely we can expect our leaders to keep to the rules? Especially the rules that they’ve made, and then ask us to keep.
That’s certainly the case for Christian leaders. A church leader who’s had an affair, or one who’s found taking money from the church, may be forgiven and restored to the fellowship of the church, but they can’t expect to continue in leadership. They have to be an example.
Second, there’s something in us that will bend or ignore the rules, at least when they’re no longer convenient. Of course, it’s fine as long as they don’t stop us doing what we want to do. But when they do, too bad for the rules.
“Do these rules apply to me?” I wondered, as I thought about visiting my mother during lockdown, or trying to book a tennis court. It’s deep within us to want to make our own rules. It’s what the serpent offered Eve, the opportunity to “be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Third, there’s also something in us that delights in judging others. Not least because it makes us feel better about ourselves. Somehow you feel that if you become the judge, that puts you beyond judgment.
Not so. Paul warns us that we don’t excuse ourselves by passing judgment on others, because we do the same things ourselves. We may not have broken the rules for lockdown, but those are not the only rules.
Friends, God will judge Dominic Cummings. He’ll do a better job of it than any of us will. And he’ll judge us too. Actually, that’s good news, because it means that everything will be put right. And there’s even better news. That Jesus came to bear the judgment we deserve, for everyone who puts their faith in him.