I’m writing this article early on Friday morning, as Britain awakes to a new era. For many this is a morning of sweet joy; for others it’s a bitter aftertaste that just won’t go away. My purpose in writing this article is not to comment on the politics of the remain or leave campaigns; there has been quite enough of that already! Instead I want to try to answer a simple question that I’m guessing many of us are asking: So what do we do now? I believe that, as Christians, regardless of our political persuasion and in the face of some of the most uncertain times of our generation, there is much for us to be doing. Let me list just a few to get us started:
1. Keep the main thing the main thing
‘For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes …’ (Romans 1:16)
If the experts are to believed, and there is nothing to indicate that they shouldn’t, we’re entering a season of uncharted and potentially difficult economic and political water. That may all sound very abstract but in reality how that plays out is like this morning, when Lorna was saying to me ‘I’m worried about the future’. In these kinds of seasons it is vital that as followers of Jesus we keep the main thing the main thing – and that is the gospel. Remaining in or leaving the European Union is not the main thing! As the Apostle wrote to a community of Christians living in the birthplace of the most powerful political and military empire the world had ever seen: ‘For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes’. Friends, whilst here on planet Earth we’ve been called to be people who take this never-changing gospel and present it to the world. Sometimes this will be in seasons of relative peace and tranquillity. On other occasions it will be in seasons of uncertainty and upheaval. Let’s be people who cling to the gospel, because it is that which is the power of God to bring salvation into the lives of the hundreds of our neighbours living around us.
2. Don’t forget God’s strategy
‘His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.’ (Ephesians 3:10)
This is a breath-taking verse! It shows us that God’s manifold wisdom – or, as The Message (translation) puts it, extraordinary plan – is being made known to the world and the supernatural realm through you and I, the church. Friends, at Life Church (along with the many thousands of other local churches here in the UK) we are God’s manifold wisdom on display. What does this mean? It means that, in the midst of these uncertain times, if we give ourselves to building a glorious Jesus-centred church we’re about God’s plans and purposes. Friends, we must not underestimate the centrality of the church to the purposes of God. So let’s build well in this season.
3. Don’t shrink back from mission
Just yesterday I was reading a book on church history. My aim was to try to read it all in one sitting so I could lock in my mind the grand sweep of the last two thousand years. As I read and read, one thing kept coming through again and again – and that was that, in seasons of uncertainty, the church seemed to miss the opportunity to see massive advance for the gospel because of fear, induced by the times in which they were living. Much of what is now the heartland of Islam could easily have been re-evangelised, but the church in Europe became introspective and locked into internal struggles. Friends,we’ve been called to live as missionaries here on planet Earth. For most of us that will be in Peterborough or the surrounding towns and villages. However, for some it will mean uprooting family and life and replanting it into a new country, so that the gospel may be preached and churches may be planted. In this season (and I’m talking the next 10 years) let’s not retreat from courageous mission, both locally and internationally. We have the opportunity to see new churches planted which are the hope of the world, as long as we don’t allow uncertainty to give rise to fear which then chokes the life out of us.
4. Be peacemakers
‘Blessed are the peacemakers …’ (Matthew 5:9)
Sadly, the referendum campaigns have opened up hurtful and divisive rifts in our nation. As we enter a season of change and uncertainty we need to stand up as peacemakers. What does that mean? It means recognising and honouring the dignity of all humanity, resisting fear and prejudice based upon difference. However, more than that we need to model to the our communities the unifying nature of the gospel. In Ephesians 2 we’re told that Christ died so that he might create one unified people from the rubble of humanity. Being peacemakers is showing that in Christ a new community is possible where people of different ages and from different social and ethnic backgrounds can live together in harmony. If ever there was a time when this was needed, it’s now.
5. Be satisfied in God
I’m no politician (that seems pretty obvious!), but I reckon the coming season will involve lots of claims and counter-claims over why x is better for us than y, etc. This is a normal and natural part of the political machine. However, as followers of Christ we must never lose sight of our call to be people who live for a different kingdom, who recognise that heaven is our home and ultimately only Christ will satisfy. What does this mean practically? It means that whether the economy of the UK thrives or tanks, our satisfaction must be in Christ.
Friends, this next season is a great opportunity for us as a church if we will live for Christ, his kingdom and eternal treasure.