I’ve been musing for a few days about how I might respond to the EU Referendum result last week and, whilst I shared a few thoughts when I preached at Saint John’s, Outwood Common (one of my team churches) on Sunday 26 June, I thought I’d put something down for everyone to read.
The EU Referendum has been, in my view, one of the most unpleasant, vitriolic and divisive political campaigns I can remember in my 54 years. There were, and are, some untruthful and ignorant viewpoints expressed, and there are some politicians whose opinions turn my stomach – on both sides of the debate.
I love living in the multi-cultural Diocese of Chelmsford and East London. I’ve lived and worked in the South East for over 20 years. But I know I would think differently if I still lived in Sunderland – who set the tone for the nation when theirs was the first result called on Thursday evening, an evening when the people of the UK voted to leave, and that is the democratic process for which we are acclaimed the world over (read my article on the Magna Carta from 2015 here).
Let me be honest (I don’t normally declare my political allegiance at election time) but I voted to leave. But it wasn’t an easy decision. I recognise there were good, sound reasons for both views. The reason I found it a tough call was because if I thought economically I was ‘In’, but if I thought constitutionally I was ‘Out.’
I’m telling you this for a reason: we all need to recognise that Christian’s were voting for both camps. That means the Win/Lose and Brexit/Remain divide runs right through us. Some of us, therefore, will be feeling victorious and others unsettled. Some of us are feeling quite optimistic, others pessimistic. Some of us will feel they belong, others will feel rejected. But just because someone voted the other way to you, does not mean they were economically ignorant, politically naive, or were expressing hatred rather than love.
But, whichever way you voted, I guess all of us feel a little fearful at the moment – especially in the vacuum of strong coherent political leadership on both sides of the house and the way the markets are playing at the moment. Whether the political parties will ever recover from the civil war within remains to be seen.
But we are a Christian community and this is a time when the Fruit of the Spirit (which we at Emmanuel spent so much time studying late last year and earlier in the year here and here) needs to shown in abundance.
‘Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.’ (1 Corinthians 13:7).
We love the Lord and each other. We worship together and serve together. That which unites us is greater than that which separates us. Remember, even in our uncertainty, we believe and trust in a King who rules the nations. Let’s demonstrate that as we pray for each other and for our leaders both national and international.
To be living at such a time as this is, surely, a significant opportunity for a loving and vibrant Christian community to offer a distinctively different way of living for those who have lost hope and confidence in Westminster by reminding them of the hope and confidence we can have in the Lord Jesus: the same yesterday, today and forever. Let’s deliberately and positively model loving our neighbours, honouring our leaders and serving others.
The future is always bright, not because of a booming economy, or whether we are in or out of Europe, but because of the overwhelming weight of ever-increasing glory that will be revealed in Jesus.
And all of us can say Amen to that!