The United Kingdom, surprisingly it seems, has voted to leave the European Union. I am sure that many people on both sides voted for good reasons, and that many people on both sides voted for bad reasons. But now that the results are in, the gospel demands that we all respond with gospel hearts to the unfolding situation.
Voting with gospel priorities was the plea that we made in the last post, suggesting that those priorities (at least according to the measurable, short-term analysis we had) might push us in the direction of voting to Remain. But voting with gospel priorities is just an extension of living with gospel priorities. All gospel people in Britain and Europe now must recognise the sovereignty of God in the result of the referendum – it is God’s will that it should be thus – and live and react accordingly.
Regardless of the decision of the UK to leave the European Union, Acts 29 Europe will continue to exist. We will continue to work together as a family of churches to see this vast region littered with communities of light. Our union is in Christ, not in political alliances, and that has not changed. Which means that many other things also remain the same.
1. The priority for gospel people has not changed
Our priority remains the preaching of the gospel and the planting of gospel churches across the continent. The circumstances in which that will take place have changed, but the priority has not.
2. The foundation for gospel people has not changed
God is in his heaven and he does what he pleases (Psalm 115). He pursues all things for his glory. Even events that seem negative are woven into the sovereign will of God for our good and his glory (Genesis 50:20, Acts 4:28).
3. The attitudes of gospel people have not changed
Humble courage, moral probity, ethical exemplarity, and the fruit of the Spirit in heart, head and speech are always what God calls for from his people, whom he created and who have been redeemed to point to his new creation purposes. So let our gentleness be evident to all (Philippians 4:5), and may our lives and words be marked by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
4. The prayers of gospel people have not changed
We pray on: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
5. The duties of gospel people have not changed
If British gospel workers in European states need to apply for citizenship, or resident permits, so be it. If their support tumbles with the pound, so be it. If gospel people need to be more generous and sacrificial as a result, so be it. We are, and ever will be, a people in exile. We should not expect the world in its political institutions to be mindful of us, or work to prosper us.
6. The hope of gospel people has not changed
We have never depended on, nor put our trust in, political institutions, whether European or British. Our ultimate hope is the return of Jesus and his perfect rule and the renewal of all things.
One of the difficult things about political decisions in Britain, Europe or anywhere in the world, is that we always have to choose based on conflicting priorities and conflicting goods. One of the great things about living in the aftermath of a momentous decision is that we now know how to live: First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time (1 Timothy 2:1-6).