Brexit, Day 2…
The second day of our new reality finds us back in France, trying to explain to our friends and neighbours why the people of the UK would vote as they did… It’s not easy.
It really does feel like the residents of a small cul-de-sac opting out of the local Neighbourhood Watch Scheme because they refused to trust the rest of their neighbours. My struggle is that membership on the European Community, in some form, has been a factor of my entire adult life. Our whole ministry, working in the UK, France, the Netherlands, Croatia, Germany and Spain over the past 30 years has been against a backdrop of increasing co-operation, exchange, openness and diversity.
We have learned to know and love the neighbours beyond the cul-de-sac as much as those within it. More than anything we have discovered that the experience of being British is hugely enhanced through relationship with our French, German and other European friends – the emerging European identity is a positive, not negative, force in the world. Interestingly, our friends say the same to us – they appreciate the influence of Britain on the cultures of Europe: and they are not entirely sure what it is that they have done to make us fear them so..
So what is the kingdom perspective on this change? Here are three suggestions to start with.
Firstly, peace is always better than conflict, whether between nations or within them. Whatever our political structures, we should commit to building on peace wherever we find it. Fear, distrust, suspicion and accusation are the enemies of relationship, and where these attach themselves to our national identity, we need to seek freedom. As people of peace we must seek out people of peace, and we should speak God’s blessing on people of peace of every political stripe. If you have friends on mainland Europe, drop them a line today to assure them of your continued friendship. Even more so, if you live in the UK among non-British people, let them know today that this is not a vote against them.
Secondly, the kingdom will advance. God is powerfully at work across Europe to build his church, and where leaders co-operate across national boundaries this happens more. This is not a time for the UK church to retreat from her engagements on mainland Europe – it is a moment for our efforts to be redoubled! In the now but not yet of God’s kingdom, let us work tirelessly for the growth of God’s purposes across our magnificent continent. Whether or not political union can still thrive, the unity of the body of Christ, across barriers of ethnicity and language, must. Perhaps it is more than ever up to those of us who know the true basis of unity to express it – publicly and joyfully.
Thirdly, your children need you. The generational divide that the UK vote has uncovered is stark and painful. The very fact that young people care about the political process and have even wanted to vote is heartening. My fear is that this knock-back will increase their cynicism and throw them back into apathy. Let’s not allow that to happen. If there are young adults in your church who voted differently from their parents or grand-parents, take the trouble to ask them why. Take the risk, even, of giving them a platform and letting them share their hearts. Hear their dream for the world they long to live in, and ask how we can get there from here.
And please pray – for the UK, for Europe, for unity and peace, for the advancement of God’s kingdom.