If you have any interest in the news, you will probably know that today is the day when we hear the details of the government’s spending review. The review has been anticipated for some months but there will be very few actually looking forward to it.
It is agreed on all sides that a review is necessary following the banking crisis of a few years ago when billions of pounds of public money had to be pumped into the banks. In short the events of recent years have left the UK with both a debt problem (money we owe) and a deficit crisis (the difference between what comes in via taxes etc and what goes out). It seems that we have been living beyond our means. There is widespread agreement that the deficit has to be tackled but differences in approach with opposition parties claiming that the cuts will be too deep and too soon and are likely to send us all into another recession, the dreaded ‘double dip’.
During the General Election earlier this year, the turnout was 65% meaning that more than one in every three people who were eligible chose not to vote. Observers are concerned that many, particularly many young people are not interested in politics. There seems to be a feeling that the debates in Parliament and in the Assembly are remote and have little to do with the lives of ordinary people. Today’s proceedings could easily change that perception, as the cuts will affect everyone, particularly in Wales, where we have a higher than average proportion of workers in the public sector.
It is interesting to me how much more we have heard about the deficit following the election compared to how little it was mentioned at the time. It was like the elephant in the room, everyone knew it represented the biggest challenge to the new government but no one would mention it for fear of putting off potential voters. I suspect most people will be fed up with the subject very soon, if they are not already, since its affects will be felt for many years to come. Nevertheless, reality has to be confronted before we are confronted by it.
I have also been thinking of our own personal spiritual debt of sin. So many carry around guilt for years and even into eternity when forgiveness is freely available. We do not have to work off our sins by doing good since the debt is so vast for each of us that we could never repay it. As Paul writes in Romans 5:5
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly”
So in Christ we find forgiveness based not on our ability to pay off our debt but on his grace. As Graham Kendrick puts it
“My debt he paid and my death he died that I might live”
It means that for those who come to God through Jesus, there is a life of freedom from spiritual debt since Jesus paid the debt in advance, on the nail.