As somebody once quipped: The future aint what it used to be!
To state the obvious, 2017 has certainly started with some glaring uncertainties. What will Brexit mean for us? What will be the outcomes of the Trump Presidency for the U.S. and for the wider world?
I speak to Christians and they reflect the division that seems to have opened up in our nation. Some think that both events are catastrophic whilst others think this is the Will of God being enacted on a world out of control. What seems clear (albeit by a thin majority) is that both the referendum and the Presidential election are a rejection of the kind of society that left of centre, liberal and progressive politicians (from all parties) have visited upon us in recent years. We always seem to need someone to blame!
Fact: we live in a global world, largely created by that nebulous but powerful shadow institution we call the market. The market is not all bad, but neither is it the morally neutral, rational entity that some project it as. Surely 2008 showed us that!
Whats good is that wealth creation has, and is having, a positive impact on global prosperity. Whats less good is the unequal way that such prosperity is being shared. It may be true that market correction will ultimately adjust this inequality; the problem is that market correction takes time. In the meantime…
Christianity has always had a global perspective. We believe that all people are created by God and flowing from that is our belief that people, in a general sense, are inter-dependent. Jesus also told us to go to all nations (cultures). Matthew 28.
What seems to emerge from both the big votes we saw in 2016 is the emergence of an unhealthy nationalist backlash increasingly across much of the developed world. Much of this seems to be a result of the complicated collision course between national jurisdictions in a global world.
In the face of this how should Christians respond? Tentatively, I think we should think about three things:
- We should step up our calling to love our neighbour. My neighbour is a person who is in need. That might be in Bristol, but it might be in Bangalore.
- We need to listen for the prophetic voices of our culture. Sometimes prophets dont hang out in churches, as they usually but politely get shown the door! Nationalism doesnt on the whole produce prophets, because national interests usually relegate God's will to the substitutes bench. Patriotism is good up to a point, but when it morphs into a narrow self-serving nationalism it becomes ugly.
- Christians in a divided world should work tirelessly for reconciliation. A divided Church will have little to offer a divided world.
Id like to say blessed are the Tweeters, but sadly some of the stuff I see some Christians tweet, makes me shudder. We need to make a measured and thoughtful response to the conversation and 140 characters isnt the best way to do it.