BREXIT. Ok so I’ve mentioned perhaps the unmentionable word that wasn’t even a word prior to the 23rd June 2016. But amongst all the angst and division, the uncertainty and fear, the anger and the boredom of the whole process—what as Christians should we be thinking about this whole sorry mess?
Well of course, the Bible does not contain the word Brexit or deal in any way with the politics of Westminster and the UK or with a European Union of 27 or is it 28 countries. But what it does deal with is the Kingdom of God (and not the kingdoms we choose to build), of which more in a few sentences.
I know to a degree we can all be tribal in our outlook but God is way bigger than that. We may be from a particular tribe of football / rugby / cricket (insert your own team for any sport!) supporter; we might be from a tribe of a certain political party; we even may be from a particular tribe of Christian faith, but if you are a person who accepts Jesus as Saviour and Lord (i.e. a Christian) then in reality you are only of one tribe—that of a child of the Christian trinitarian God. As a daughter or son of God you find your identity as a beloved child.
In Deuteronomy 7.7-8 it says “The LORD … chose you, not because you were more numerous… but because the LORD loved you”. God loved us before we were even born, yet that love is not always reciprocated toward God, or even our fellow human beings. Jesus replied when asked by a ‘teacher of the religious law’ what was the greatest commandment— “The LORD our God is the one and only LORD. And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. The second is equally important: ‘ Love your neighbour as yourself’. (Mark 12.29b-31)
This brings me back to Brexit and the Kingdom. Brexit, like much in the political sphere of our society and globally divides people. It creates barriers between friends; arguments in families and erodes trust in our society. Yet God’s command is to love. Love has no place for division. There is though a place for difference. A uniform world of total agreement, as well as being impossible, would be a world of boredom—but difference with love can allow for common ground.
Growing up I was often led to believe that if my views differed from that of my father, then I was wrong and conversely he was right. There wasn’t much room for discussion and debate, but as I grew and flew the nest I discovered a world of difference—different thoughts on life; different perspectives in society and how society may be best be shaped; different views on the value of religion or not, and this has fed into my belief that we can all hold strong views, but they should never be so entrenched we cannot step out of our shoes and into those of another too consider their viewpoint.
Jesus stepped out of the viewpoint of the religious teachers into that of the sinner, the tax-collector, the Samaritan woman, the leper, the crippled, the child, the widow, the mourner—and He changed the view of what God’s expectation was. Jesus saw difference but also called for common ground—he called for love. First and foremost a deep heartfelt love for God, and through the strength that brings, a love of our neighbour and our enemy too.
So when we are arguing over Brexit or any of the myriad of other issues we can find to fight about, know we are creating difference that doesn’t really matter. What ultimately matters is the Kingdom of God.
As I type this, France is coming to terms with the destruction of much of the Cathedral de Notre Dame, started in 1169AD and completed in 1345AD. This symbol of Christian faith through the centuries is such that its reach goes far beyond that of the Christian faith. Notre Dame is a symbol of France, its’ heritage and French unity despite modern France being a largely secular country. But what I see is more than that secular view. I see a building constructed as a house of worship, a monument to the greatness of God and to His enduring love—to His Kingdom.
We may continue to argue amongst ourselves on many topics, and also with our European neighbours, but what should we have our minds on? The Kingdom of God. His Kingdom made present now through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus, upon a cross and the rising and ascending of Christ to His and our Father.
Blessings for peace and unity in our difference this Easter