Britain divided – but not how you think

I am grateful to David Robertson for his perceptive and helpful post on the church’s reaction to the result of the referendum on EU membership. Many people have reacted in a way which strikes me as astonishing – occasionally verging on the hysterical. And it is clear that such reactions have even been found within the Christian church. In the midst of a lot of frankly silly comment, David’s post stands out for its sanity. Indeed, as I read it, the opening words of Kipling’s poem If came to mind: “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs . . . .”

David’s comments on this astonishing reaction led me to the thought that the referendum has shown Britain to be a deeply divided country – but that even more significant than the division between those who voted Remain and those who voted Leave, is the division between those (on both sides) who think that EU membership is a matter of life and death (or perhaps even more important) (and who also seem to believe that all those on the other side are knaves and fools) – and those who admit that they might be wrong and who feel that those on the other side are, on the whole, as decent as those on their own side.

And I do believe that this division is more important and more basic than the division between Remainers and Leavers.

But as I considered David’s words, I was reminded there is an even more important, and more basic division in Britain. It is between those who believe in Jesus Christ as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and have therefore committed themselves to following him – and those who have not.

And that means that on the 23rd of June, the people of Britain were not just faced with a decision about how to vote regarding the EU . Each person, on that day, had another decision to make – one which was even more important.  On that day (as on every other day), each person had to decide whether Jesus Christ was their Lord and their King – or whether he was not.  They had to decide whether they wished to be independent of him or to have him as their king.

In other words, the real divide in Britain is between those whose citizenship is in heaven, and who admit that they are foreigners and temporary residents here – and those who see their citizenship as belonging to earthly political alliances and nations.

Indeed, one could say that the most important part of keeping your head when all about you are losing theirs, is not putting your trust in princes and earthly powers when all about you are looking to them for salvation – but instead, putting your hope in God, and in his King.


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