This morning, Britain voted to leave the European Union. I was one of the 48% who voted to remain, and, like pretty much everyone else who voted that way, was devastated to see the news this morning. But this is not a post about the politics of the decision, or its financial consequences or anything like that. This is a post to encourage Christians – and anyone else, really – to do what’s right by our country and the people that live in it.
I understand that right now, there is a lot of bitterness. I’d be lying if I said I haven’t felt it myself, but the way forward is not through acting aggressively towards people who voted the other way, nor is it through apathy and the attitude that there’s nothing we can do for Britain now. I don’t know how Jesus would have voted in that referendum but I do have a pretty good idea how he would act now: with compassion.
There are Christians who voted remain, and there are Christians who voted to leave. It would be so easy to let this form a division but more arguments is the last thing that the Church needs. Regardless of how the people in your churches and your friendship groups voted, the call to love them, and honour them as family has not changed one bit. We still share the same Spirit and worship the same God. As a church, our collective mission is still to share the good news about Jesus and to help those in need.
And there will be need in the aftermath of this vote. There will be people – friends, family, neighbours – who lose jobs and money and who knows what else because of this. If you voted remain, your role is not to blame those who didn’t, but to show the love of Jesus to those who need it. If you voted to leave, your job is also to show the love of Jesus to those who need it.
In the midst of triumphant leave posts, and angry/sad remain posts this morning, I saw a few comments and tweets that captured exactly what I’m trying to get at. My former youth leader commented on a post that this is now our chance to ‘build a better future’, and finished his comment saying ‘we can do better’. I completely agree with this – if we want to see positive change in our country it needs to come from the ground up. We can’t just sit at home moaning about what we don’t like. Yes, sometimes the things happening in the government create more need in the country, and sometimes they help the need, but our role of identifying that need and serving those people the best way possible has never changes and will never change.
Another friend and blogger brought up the parable of the Good Samaritan on Twitter. @TheAlethiophile talked about the way that the parable ‘played on commonly held hatred and called us to love our neighbour’. There are those who hold animosity towards people who voted the other way, and this has been built up and played upon by the frenetic campaigning of the past 10 weeks, but Jesus does not allow us to hide behind the walls that we build. In fact, the parable of the Good Samaritan was not even about us loving a neighbour that we disagree with, it was about a hated neighbour offering us help, and showing that there is always a way to break down barriers.
Throughout his life, Jesus was all about smashing down divisions, culminating in the tearing of the temple curtain at his death that symbolised the shattering of the last wall between humans and God. So I want to encourage everyone reading this to pray, to find what God is saying to them in all of this, and then to go out there and break down barriers like Jesus did.
Just love people.