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EU Christian reflections

Paul Kerry, 1st July 2016

Cathedral

Lessons for the church?

Guest post by Paul Kerry

As I’ve been reflecting on the vote for the EU referendum I’ve been struck by a number of issues the situation raises which I’ve tried to spell out under three headings below. There is much more we could say and we may not agree with everything below but it seems to be a good place to start from a Christian perspective…

Who is God?

Whatever way we voted on the issue, and whatever we think about the result, one thing we will all agree on is that the future for our country is uncertain. As nations dialogue with one another about our exit from the EU everything can feel very unsettled and even frightening. But we must remember that the God we follow is the one Isaiah described as a God to whom the nations are like a drop in the bucket (Isaiah 40:15).

Our God is far bigger not only than the decision we have made but also than all the nations now wrangling with one another about the decision. That does not mean this issue doesn’t really matter, not at all, we have made a big decision. But what it does mean is that we can go forward into that seemingly uncertain future trusting the God, who has sovereignty and power over all things.

What is tolerance?

Secondly, there has been an underlying assumption in our culture over recent years that to disagree with anyone immediately puts you in danger of being intolerant, even bigoted. However we are now in a nation split almost 50/50 over one issue which will give us time to reflect on the reality that we can disagree with people and still love and care for them deeply.

Clearly such compassion is not being expressed across the whole nation at this time and we must pray against all racism or hate from either side. But Christians now have a very public chance to demonstrate loving disagreement, to live out both tolerance and disparity to the watching world. And in fact we are called by Jesus to it: “love your neighbour as yourself” (Mark 10:31).

What is mission?

Finally, this whole issue clarifies for us the question of what is mission. For some who voted to leave they EU it was a rejection of establishment and the, seemingly, authoritarian nature of the way the EU is run. Whether we like it or not, for many church appears as a similarly established/authoritarian voice. People say they are put off by “organised religion” (to which I normally reply they should try our church – I’m not very organised at all!)

But to think this through more seriously it will also ensure that in our Christian mission we are not going out to tell people about church or an institution – the poll proved that will put many off. This is a call to Christians to make sure that our mission is all about Jesus Christ and his radical, extreme love for people like us. Whatever we think of establishment or authority Jesus is a figure who is supremely attractive; whose overwhelming love can warm even the most disgruntled heart: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not die but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

To find out more about Jesus’ radical heart and contrast it with all that unsettles us today do visit the video.