by Jonathan Tame, 24th June.
Pray hard. Reach out. Step up. As I write this on the day after the Referendum, June 23rd 2016 will certainly go down as a momentous day in history. Some Christians have been rejoicing that God answered their prayers and started to restore Britain’s sovereignty. Others have felt their hopes for a collaborative and generous future for Britain in Europe have been dashed.
What is God doing? Christians on both sides can only ‘see through a glass darkly’ and cannot know whether this will work out in the long term for good or ill for Britain and the continent. Yet as followers of Jesus we are called to put our trust in God and to seek first his kingdom above our own needs. This means we should be leading the way in bridging the divisions caused or deepened by the referendum.
As I reflect, there are three imperatives for Christians at this time:
- Pray hard: for Britain and the other 27 EU member states who have been impacted significantly by our vote. Pray that God would guide leaders and opinion formers across the nations of Europe as they negotiate the fallout from this decision, not only the terms of Brexit but also the instability and wave of anti-EU sentiment in other countries. Pray for God to lead us towards a new way of relating and working together, both within Britain and across the continent.
- Reach out: first to the people who voted for Leave if we voted to Remain (and vice versa). We all have to work through the consequences of Brexit together – that’s the reality of democracy. Secondly, reach out to people from other European countries – at the school gate, along our street or in a shop or café. They need our reassurance that they are valued and welcome. Likewise we should reach out to those who feel cast aside by the unstoppable changes of globalisation, free movement and the decline in our manufacturing industry – as they are the ones who tipped the referendum to Brexit.
- Step up: engage with the political process of rebuilding relationships of trust and cooperation – locally, national and internationally. Start or join a conversation about forging a new way to live and work together with our European neighbours, and support people involved with renegotiating business and political agreements. There is a tremendous opportunity to influence the shaping of a new political settlement nationally and internationally. Much of our work in the Jubilee Centre has involved thinking through these kinds of issues from a biblical perspective.
Arguably it is the followers of Jesus who can influence the outcome of these momentous changes in our social, economic and political landscape for good: we have a theology of servant leadership, a Church that transcends national and ethnic boundaries, and we serve the God who transforms hearts, turns enemies into friends and calls his people salt and light to the nations. Let’s rise up to this challenge!