On April 8, 2013, former Prime Minister Baroness Margaret Thatcher died after suffering a stroke – obviously one that was much more severe than the series of small strokes she suffered earlier this century. In 2008, her daughter also confirmed that Lady Thatcher was suffering from dementia, which had started as far back as 2003. Her increasing health issues obviously let to her final fatal stroke. The only female prime minister in England’s history, Thatcher evoked strong emotions in the hearts of the British people.
She was wildly conservative and was a dear friend of President Ronald Reagan. In fact, Thatcher became the Prime Minister in 1979 and remained in the post, being elected 3 times, until 1990. Sometimes, due to her strong political prowess, she deeply divided the nation, and the Russians actually nicknamed her, “The Iron Lady”, a name that stuck with her for the remainder of her life.
Thatcher was most remembered for several of the things that seem to have divided the country – things like mining operations and it was widely held by the masses that she only looked out for the interests of the wealthy. Her political style deeply divided the nation. But to the conservatives of the nation, she was a one-of-a-kind woman committed to what she believed to be the best course of action for her beloved England.
Therefore, the events that have transpired in England since her death have, for the most part, appalled me… There are wild celebrations in the streets praising the fact that Thatcher is finally dead. In fact, people are wearing tee shirts that say, “The Iron Lady – Rust in Hell.” And, in probably the most organized event in all of England, a contingent of people decided to purchase copies of the song from the “Wizard of Oz”, “Ding, Dong – the Witch is Dead.” And you know what? They did it. They actually pushed the song to number one on the charts.
There were scores of people who protested the organized effort, claiming that it was demeaning to Thatcher’s memory that this song would be pushed up the charts. But on the other hand, there were many of those who love freedom who defended the right of the protesters to express themselves with parties and mean quotes, as well as the offensive demonstrations. Kind of reminds me of the people in this country. When there is a national crisis, we all pull together. But we can be cruel and deeply divisive – especially during our political campaigns.
When we get amped up, there is almost no limit to what we will do to hurt one another. In the case of Thatcher, I have no idea what joy can come from celebrating the death of someone – especially someone who loved the country the way that Thatcher did. In fact, did you know that aside from all her other accomplishments, she was the chancellor or William and Mary College in Williamsburg? For 7 years, she flew across the ocean to fulfill her obligations here in this country at one of the most prestigious institutions in the world. And she was no figurehead. She worked at it and contributed enormously to the school that she agreed to serve. As odd as this all sounds, I found this out last week when my father-in-law shared this information with me as I arrived in Williamsburg for a visit.
I wonder how God is reacting to the events in England. Thatcher was a Christ follower, a devout Methodist; married to an Anglican and throughout the years, she moved to adopt her husband’s theological underpinnings. There was no question about her belief in God. In fact, she believed that religion and politics should be interwoven – religion as a filter for decisions that were being made in the political arena.
It isn’t just in England that God has issues with cruelty – I’m sure that He feels the same way about hatred and jealousy everywhere in the world. So what do we do with this? Protect the freedom of people to express themselves in whatever way they wish, or do we honor those who have given a life of service to their countries doing the best job they were capable of doing? Closer to home, we have issues with our elected leaders – including the president. And while people may have trouble with personal respect, there is something called positional respect and I think that many people don’t understand the difference. While we may not respect the man, or the woman, it is imperative that we respect the positional authority of the person.
I wish that we could get back to the old time values. The verse for tonight is from the Gospel of John – 15:9-12, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” Great advice – don’t you think?
My encouragement this evening is that God wants us to live our lives according to His commands – not our human wishes. And a prime directive from Him is to remember that we are to love one another – period. The model of love that God has for His Son is the same as the love that Jesus has for us; and that we should have for one another. My prayer is that the next time you think about being cruel or intentionally hurtful, you will offer up a prayer instead. It works much better and is in accordance with God’s will. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…