I felt deeply shocked yesterday waking up to the fact that Britain had voted to leave the EU. I voted Remain. Many Christians I know voted Leave.The slight feeling of disbelief is still there today as I write.
What is growing in me though is an awareness that God will show himself to our communities through the actions and words of Christians as we go through these uncertain times.
We are blessed to live in a democratic country where it is possible for people on the streets to voice their desires through a voting process. This referendum was promised at the last election and has now been completed with a majority vote for Leave. I have heard that a petition is calling for a second referendum. I question whether the people signing it would still be signing if the vote had gone the other way!
I certainly prayed for the result of the referendum to go the way that God knew was best. Personally, I swayed in my opinions during the campaign and cannot say for certain that remaining is definitely the best. No one can see into the future except God, so I can’t see how anyone can be 100% sure about which decision was the “right” answer. But I prayed, and I’m pretty sure you prayed too, for God to be sovereign. It didn’t go how I expected, but does that mean that God did not answer?
I think about Joseph whose dreams as an adolescent promised an exalted position for him in the future. Then he was thrown into a pit by his jealous brothers and sold as a slave into Egypt, then wrongly imprisoned for many years. He must have wondered at times whether God had abandoned him. Despite his terrible circumstances, Joseph’s attitude marked him out as a man of God. He was honest (working hard even as a slave to his master), righteous (doing the right thing even when tempted repeatedly) and a relationship builder when he had the opportunity to get his revenge. Through him, many people lived who would otherwise have starved to death.
This time is an opportunity for Christians to show that their faith in God makes a difference when the rubber hits the road. Whether you voted leave or remain, now is your time to be a peacemaker in your community, to heal wounds rather than rub salt in them and to be salt and light in word and action.
Speaking doom and gloom to our neighbours does not glorify God. We believe that He will never leave us or forsake us. We know that He holds all things in His hands.
Reacting to events as if the economy is the “be all and end all” does not give God his rightful place in our lives. “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
Treating others with anger or distrust, brings Christians and the church into disrepute and breaks Jesus command to love our neighbour as we love ourselves.
These are the negatives, but the positives are so much better!
By reacting with grace, love, acceptance and hope, we can bring God’s love into our hurting world and attract more people to accept Jesus’ offer of forgiveness and life in all its fullness.
Whether or not you voted to leave the EU, may God bless you and make you a light in a dark place wherever you are.
Our Humble God by Howard Banks