Wednesday, 10 September 2014

An Important Question


There is one item that is dominating our news at the moment - the Scottish Referendum, which will take place a week today.

It is a hugely significant event, and whatever way the vote will go, it will have a profound effect on the United Kingdom, with Westminster already promising much greater powers to Scotland if they vote No next week. 

There isn’t a united Christian view on the question of independence.  Like the Scottish nation as a whole, there are Christians who support independence, and those who do not. It is for this reason that the Church in Scotland committed itself back in 2012 to remaining impartial on the question of Scottish independence, seeking instead to encourage public participation in the referendum, by creating space for people to think about what values they want to underpin Scottish society and what shared vision they can aspire to. 

It is the question about what sort of society people want to create that has been one of the central questions of the referendum debate. 

My own personal view is that I hope the people of Scotland vote to remain part of the UK, as I believe the interests of Scotland and the rest of the UK, are best served by being one united nation. As one friend wrote when the problems of the world seem greater, and the need for unity and co-operation seems stronger than ever before, it seems ludicrous that our small island would fracture and split. There are so many divisions and fractures in this world that we can ill-afford the unavoidable bickering that would follow from this political divorce. We all need to work closer and more interdependently than ever before and reject the lie at the heart of ALL nationalism that says "We are better on our own, we don't need you."

Whatever the outcome of next week’s referendum may be, I hope it starts a broader debate across the country about what sort of society and country we want to build.  And as Christians, we need to be at the heart of this debate. 

In our Bible reading today, it makes clear that when Jesus died on the cross it was not just to reconcile people to God, but all things both on earth and in heaven (Colossians 1:20). 
  
At the heart of Jesus’ earthly mission was the kingdom of God. Jesus came not only to draw alongside men and women, but to usher in the kingdom of God – God's rule that will eventually transform the world.
Through Jesus’ miracles he transformed individuals' lives and challenged society to change radically too. He challenged us to be more welcoming to social outcasts, to abandon violence, and fight for justice, to care for the weak and the poor, to have a concern for the world in which we live.  The teaching about the kingdom of God is as revolutionary today as it was in Jesus’ time. The goal of mission is not only about bringing people to faith in Jesus Christ, but the transformation of the whole world. 
Whatever the outcome of next Thursday’s referendum, the debate about what sort of society we want to build will continue, and as Christians we should be shaping this debate.  The next twelve months will be a very important time in the life of our nation, as the country comes to terms with the results of the referendum vote, and as it prepares to vote in a General Election next May, and as the country continues to debate its place in Europe.     

As Christians what can we do to ensure that the society we build is one that is just, caring and compassionate?