The UK has voted in a referendum to leave the EU by 52% to 48%. This is a seismic political event and it will have a direct impact on the lives of people in our communities. Some will be waking up this morning happy, delighted even, others sad, disappointed, angry, fearful. What happens now?So the first thing we need to say today is that God is sovereign. He still reigns. He has not been surprised or unsettled by the result. In fact, if we believe that God is sovereign then we must insist today that the 23rd of June was very much part of his plan. We may not be able to see at the moment how he will use Brexit for our good and his glory but we can believe with confidence that He will.
Reflections on the Campaign
Two things in particular have concerned, disappointed and saddened me (though probably not surprised). First of all, I expressed my concern right at the start of the campaign about the potential tone of arguments about immigration. As I said back then, it is not racist to be concerned about immigration and there are legitimate arguments for exercising controls over immigration. There are of course good arguments for allowing free movement of people too though those arguments were never really made. So, when I look back at the speeches, debates, posters, newspaper articles and twitter feed over the past few months, can I hand on heart say that we’ve dealt with this argument in a helpful way? An important question for us as Christians is “Will the foreigner in our midst” feel more or less welcome, safe, protected, integrated into our communities than before the campaign started? I fear that the answer is no. One way or another, I believe we have a responsibility to rectify this (and to repeat: that does not mean that having limits and controls on immigration is in itself necessarily wrong).
The second thing that has struck me is the way that our society has completely trashed the idea that we should love and respect the elderly. In the last TV debate, Channel 4 seemed to think that it would be okay to have a host being rude and vile to elderly people who in various ways have served their communities and society over the years. Those aged 70 and over were constantly told during the campaign that they had to listen to their grandchildren and what they wanted. I was encouraged to hear one elderly, retired politician point out that they did increasingly look towards the future and think about what we were handing over to the next generation. However, at no point were younger voters really asked to listen to older voters and heed their experience and wisdom. What does the Bible say about age?
Here are some wonderful verses. Does our society, our neighbourhoods and our church reflect them?
“Wisdom belongs to the aged, and understanding to the old.” Job 12:12
“Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained by living a godly life.” Proverbs 16: 31
And specifically to godly older people
“Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green. They will declare, “The Lord is just! He is my rock! There is no evil in him” Psalm 92: 14-15
Here’s a third observation. We are probably going to hear a lot more about how our country is divided because the vote was so close. That’s the problem with binary questions. In the end you have to vote straight “yes or no.” We weren’t given any of the following options
- I really still don’t know
- I’ve considered the arguments and think it doesn’t actually matter that much. The difference the decision will make is exaggerated.
- I really would like to vote to remain but I wish that a more positive case had been made
- I would have been tempted to vote “leave” but have been put off by the campaign and the lack of a clear vision for what the future outside of the EU would be like.
- I would have voted remain if the government had done a better job at renegotiating our relationship with the EU.
- I don’t think we should have joined the EU but now we are in I think it’s better to stay.
Maybe this morning some people who voted leave and some who voted remain are wishing that those options were on the ballot paper!
Life and decisions are complex. This means that people who voted differently may actually share more in common than they realise. Indeed, some people may agree more with the values and aims of people who voted on the opposite side than with those who voted on the same side. This is another way of saying again that we should not jump to conclusions about people and their underling motives. We should try to think charitably of others. We should not make a decision like this all consuming so it defines friendships and partnerships. No doubt many husbands and wives will have gone into the polling booth and voted differently today. Hopefully they still went home again arm in arm.
- Our priority as Christians must remain the Gospel. We should not get distracted from our primary calling. This also means that we must keep secondary things secondary. Christians will have disagreed during the campaign and will continue to disagree about the rights and wrongs of the decision but our unity and purpose is first, foremost, indeed solely in Christ.
- There are still many, many vulnerable, lonely, isolated people in our communities. We all have a responsibility for the poor, homeless, elderly, widows and asylum seekers in our communities. Those responsibilities will not go away.
Finally, our focus over the past few months has been on a day (23rd June) with far reaching implications for Britain and Europe. However, for Christians two other days matter far more – not just for Britain and Europe but for all people. We look back to the day when Jesus took our place on the Cross. We look forward to another day. The day when all of the mess, chaos, fear and hate of our world will be dealt with for ever.
There is a day, That all creation’s waiting for,
A day of freedom and liberation for the earth.
And on that day, The Lord will come to meet His bride,
And when we see Him, In an instant we’ll be changed
The trumpet sounds , And the dead will then be raised
By His power, Never to perish again.
Once only flesh, Now clothed with immortality,
Death has now been Swallowed up in victory
We will meet Him in the air And then we will be like Him
For we will see Him, as He is
Then all hurt and pain will cease
And we’ll be with Him forever
And in His glory we will live
Oh yeah! Oh yeah!
So lift your eyes , To the things as yet unseen,
That will remain now, For all eternity.
Though trouble’s hard, It’s only momentary
And it’s achieving Our future glory.
 I would have written pretty much the same paragraph here if the result had gone
 See Deut 10:19 & Lev 19:34
 Lou Fellingham/Phatfish, There is a Day