I often try to steer away from politics in my column because, as the old saying goes ‘Religion and politics don’t mix!’ However, I’ve been reflecting quite a bit on the Prime Minister triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to mark the official beginning of the UK’s departure from the European Union (EU) – which also begins the long process of negotiations that will determine what that departure will look like.
The EU Referendum was, and the aftermath still is, in my view, one of the most unpleasant, vitriolic and divisive political campaigns I can remember in my life time. There were, and are, many ignorant and untruthful viewpoints expressed – on both sides of the debate – and there are some politicians whose opinions turn my stomach.
Many in our town voted for Brexit and others voted to remain. That means the Win/Lose and Brexit/Remain divide runs right through us – separating young and old and families and friends alike. However, just because someone voted the opposite way to you, doesn’t mean they were ignorant or politically naïve. Voting, for many, wasn’t an easy decision.
Some people voted to remain for economical reasons whilst others chose Brexit for constitutional reasons. Some of you will be feeling victorious and others unsettled. Some of you will be feeling quite optimistic, others pessimistic. Some of you will feel as though you belong, others will feel rejected.
Whilst we may have voted to leave the EU we’ve still got to work out what kind of United Kingdom we want to become and the kind of morals, values and ethics we want to guide us. This historic moment is a time to speak to each other about what we want our society to be. This is not a conversation for our leaders alone, nor is it the exclusive possession of those who voted to Brexit in the referendum campaign. It is for every person in the UK to make a contribution.
Christians are commanded in the Bible to: ‘Pray for all who have authority, that we may live peaceful lives’. Churches are praying for the Prime Minister, her Cabinet, and all those involved in the negotiations around our withdrawal from the EU in the coming months. We pray that God would give His wisdom to those He has given authority and influence and we pray for the ‘common good’ of our community, constituency and nation and that the outcomes of the negotiations would be fair and just for everyone.
Christians have a vital contribution to make to these conversations as we speak out for a society that upholds freedom, maintains justice and pursues truth as we pursue the difficult task of loving our neighbour as ourselves. We share the prime minister’s desire for a fairer society for all and should look forward to engaging in that conversation in the months ahead.
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 Christian’s 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, who is: ‘The same yesterday, today and forever.’ Let’s deliberately and positively model loving our neighbours, honouring our leaders and serving others.
May God’s richest blessing be upon you in these times of uncertainty.
This is a copy of my article for the May 2017 edition of the Billericay ‘Around Town Magazine’
NB. Since this article was written the Prime Minister called a ‘snap’ General Election for 8 June, which sort of makes this article a little out of sync – that is print deadlines for you! However, my article about the General Election 2017 might be a helpful read.