It is May 1940. As the fascists make their ruthless dash across mainland Europe Britain is in turmoil. Many of its leaders long for peace, the terrible memories of World War One still fresh in their minds. But Winston Churchill has been to Germany and seen the vision of destruction being sown by Adolf Hitler. He cannot believe that any peace agreement will be worth it.
Time and again Winston clashes with those in the government who continue to be inspired by Neville Chamberlain and the proposal of discussion with the fascists. Churchill feels that he stands alone, a single voice calling out for justice. He refuses to be worn down, though every day is a battle.
Like Churchill, Jesus was a man with a singular vision, and it led him to clash with those around him, many of them in authority. He clashed with others on at least five fronts. Those who just wanted to keep the peace and not upset the brutal and merciless Roman invaders. The Sadducees who were making an awful lot of money out of the way the temple worked. The Pharisees who believed that if everybody behaved properly and kept every last bit of the law of Moses and the man-made add-ons, then the Messiah would come and bring a new day of freedom for the people. His family, who thought he was increasingly losing the plot and just wanted him to come home and put on his slippers. And his friends who were all for a revolution and felt that overthrowing the Romans was the best way forward. Incredible how much conflict Jesus had to cope with, day after day, and all because he’d come to help people. ‘Change your thinking,’ Jesus said, when he walked into town and called folks to repent. ‘The kingdom of God is coming, but not as you expect.’ Jesus grabbed forgiveness in his carpentry gnarled hands and took it away from the temple and out into the streets. He gave it away freely, people did not have to buy animals to sacrifice, or pay for the privilege of meeting God, he offered grace and compassion and the presence of God to folks right where they were, in the work places, parties, homes and gutters. And to people who did not deserve it, who were not keeping all the laws and behaving ‘properly’.
When other leaders challenged him he argued back, and outdid them, not only with his extraordinary teaching, but by the way he lived, which outshone everyone as far as integrity, justice, courage and kindness went. And as for his friends, the disciples, who kept trying to steer him in the way they wanted him to go, he said, ‘Blessed are those who are not upset by me.’ Those who did not give up on him, even though he refused to be controlled by them. Like Churchill he must have been lonely and discouraged at times, on several occasions we are told he let out sighs and groans about the uphill struggle, but ultimately he won through. Gave every last bit of himself, and revealed a whole new kind of kingdom, a new of living and being. Not easy. But he refused to be persuaded, controlled or bullied by others. He cared too much about you and me.