As Brexit continues to rumble on I wanted to share some thoughts on our ongoing response as followers of Jesus.
We need to keep praying. Each time we see anything about Brexit on the TV, on social media or in the press let’s turn it to prayer. In the words of Jehoshaphat from the Old Testament “We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” (2 Chronicles 20:12). Pray for our politicians, pray for God’s kingdom to come and his will to be done, pray for justice, pray for God to use the lack of peace to bring the true peace of Jesus. You know the stuff!
While we’re in this critical season I’ve started hosting an online time of prayer most weekday mornings from 6.45-7am. It’s on Facebook live on my Facebook page. I’ll start the stream a couple of minutes before 6.45am so people can connect in. You can either watch it live or the video stays up for a few days if you want to catch it later in the day. If for any reason there are days I can’t do it I’ll try and let people know, but if you get there and it’s not happening then just pray on your own!
This is a new idea for how we can gather to pray in a different way. I know that this doesn’t work for some people (which is fine), but I’ve also had feedback from others who have found it helpful, so I’ll continue it for now. I'd love to hear any ideas on how it can improved, but through that process please join me when you can.
It was said of the men of Issachar that they “understood the times and knew what they should do” (1 Chronicles 12:32). Oh that we might have the same insight today.
Let’s daily be reading our Bibles. The Bible is so full of insight on the times we live in. I’d encourage you to try my pattern which is to try and commit to picking up and reading my Bible every morning before I pick up my phone. What you do first thing in the morning will set the trajectory for the rest of your day (more about this in my preach on Sunday!) so get into the scriptures.
Read the papers and watch the news. Read articles from people you agree with, and people you disagree with. There is a danger for those of us on social media or who only read one particular newspaper that we can live in an echo chamber, where we only interact with people who share our views, and assume that everyone with a differing view is either an idiot or a bigot. The Bible tells us to be slow to speak and quick to listen (James 1:19). Much of the disunity we see is people creating lazy caricatures of the people on the other side of the debate, rather than understanding their genuine concerns. Seek to understand before you seek to be understood.
All the time remember the advice of the theologian Karl Barth: “Take your Bible and take your newspaper, and read both. But interpret newspapers from your Bible.”. Understand the times through the lens of the Bible, not the other way round.
To understand the wider issues behind the rise of populism and much more of the times we live in I’ve found the “This Cultural Moment” Podcast with John Mark Comer and Mark Sayers really helpful.
Although much of Brexit is confusing, particularly as we seek to discern the will of God on what should happen next, there are some things the Bible is very clear on.
If you encounter racism, whether it comes from the mouth of your next door neighbour or the President of the United States, don’t be afraid to call it out. Every human being has unique value and worth as someone created in the image of God, and we are to affirm and defend that value. And reach out to people from other nations, letting them know that you are pleased they are in our nation and taking time to learn from them and the culture they have come from.
Let's be models of what it looks like to disagree agreeably. We are told to "let our gentleness be evident to all” (Philippians 4:5). Gentle doesn’t mean weak. You can be gentle and strong, gentle and challenging, gentle and prophetic, gentle and provocative. Let us help people rediscover the art of gentle disagreement.
Be a force for justice, practically demonstrating the love of Jesus. That could mean donating food to the food bank, visiting an elderly neighbour or taking the time to talk to the homeless people we sadly see all around us. It is a fact that the Brexit process is having an economic impact on our nation, with those on the margins of society paying the greatest price. We as the church are called to be part of the solution.
Our friends at Jubilee Plus have written some very helpful ideas (written for church leaders but relevant to all of us) on how we can practically begin to respond. Please take a look and think about how their suggestions might apply to you.
Proclaim the name of Jesus. Let’s not be afraid to “give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15). He is the one who one day will “reconcile all things to himself” (Colossians 1:20). He is our hope, our peace, our strength and our refuge. I was on a train to Yorkshire on Monday and had a long chat with the guy next to me about how I came to follow Jesus. Let’s take every opportunity to share the reason for the hope we have.
And remember that prayer is activity. Praying changes things, and whether or not we immediately see the answer to our prayers, it always changes us.
There’s much more I could say but this will do for now. Thanks for reading this far, and let’s commit to being part of the Christ centred solution.