Everybody apparently is bored with BREXIT; at least this is what the headlines have told us this week. Unfortunately we can’t afford to be bored! It is far too serious a matter. A huge amount depends upon the outcome. A well-known reputable weekly journal put the situation perfectly when one of its columnists wrote, “One thing increasingly clear in the fog of Brexit is that it is the most serious domestic crisis Britain has faced in the modern democratic era”. He went on to quote the transport minister’s remark that in its Brexit dealings the government was responsible for “a failure of British statecraft on a scale unseen since the Suez crisis in 1976”. He noted that others had compared “the current debacle” of Brexit to the IMF’s bail out of Britain in 1976 and the gold standard crisis of 1931. He continued, “In fact it is worse than anything else Britain has experienced in peacetime. The political system is all but paralysed, the country is divided into warring ideological tribes, the civil service is overwhelmed, and in the event of no deal, Britain would be staring into the abyss”.
These are very serious comments. The Press is not averse to “building up” a crisis, of course – crises sell newspapers and journals! But these comments do not strike me as being in that category. Despite the “fog” of the Brexit process, it is patently obvious that we have a government in confusion and crisis, following a leader with whom very few agree and with whom most strongly disagree, and consequently utterly unable to come to any kind of real consensus at a time when the nation faces one of the most critical decisions of its history. The possibility of much greater chaos when the House of Commons debate the Prime Minister’s plans is all too real. The fall-out could be extremely serious, with political collapse leading even to dangerous autocratic political take-overs.
No! We cannot afford to be bored – certainly Christians cannot – we have a responsibility.
Serious as this massive political issue is, however, there is a much more serious issue surrounding it than just finding the right political solution. Irrespective of the issue being a complex Brexit, the sheer incompetence of the process, the appalling and aggressive nature of the in-fighting, the confused chaos of the process are all pointing to something deeper, something spiritual. This “something” needs to be stated bluntly, and it is that God is indicating his displeasure against the nation. This is the sort of thing that happens when nations do not walk in the “fear of the Lord”, and have no regard for Him and his moral requirements. They degenerate.
To make this sort of remark is, of course, to invite from most people an immediate disdainful response. Such comment belongs, they reckon, to the “loony fringe”. The biblical prophets knew all about that kind of reaction! Such reaction is only to be expected, however, for this world has little time for God and its Maker as it blindly battles on in its own supposed “wisdom”. But those who have come to know the reality of a holy God have come to know that God is utterly central to our life and our well-being. They realise that He is not indifferent to the way we live but expects godliness and righteousness, and that if we do not walk that way we can meet with trouble in our lives! Furthermore our God is the God of the nations; he created them and expects of them what he expects of individuals. When they honour Him, he blesses them; when they arrogantly reject Him and his ways they meet with trouble – trouble of all kinds, and incompetent and chaotic government is frequently one such kind of trouble.
This is not an obscure or extreme or “fringe” idea. It is written on page after page of the biblical record, and we meet with it in most of the books of the Bible. The Old Testament in particular is essentially a story about a nation – the Jewish nation. But it also the story of many other nations alongside Israel. As the biblical history of those nations unfolds, it is constantly commenting on the well-being or demise of those nations and demonstrating one essential theme; that those nations and their leaders who walk in God’s ways experience wisdom and blessing, and those who do not walk in his ways experience distress of every kind. This is no “fringe” idea; it is an utterly central idea, culminating in clear and definitive fashion with all the main biblical prophets. It is “fringe” only to those who have no time for God, though, sadly, it may also be “fringe” to those whose faith in God is only “personal” and does not grasp God’s deep concern for the nations.
The lesson from the biblical record is that our “troubles” as a nation will continue (and get worse) as long as we insist on living the way we live. Violence is on the increase, sexual immorality and confusion abounds, greed, covetousness and corruption are very much with us even at the highest levels of society and seemingly know no bounds; and our children are more and more tainted with what is not good, but destructive.
No, Brexit is not really the main national problem; it is only an ugly symptom of the main problem. The real problem is the systematic way we have strayed away from the fundamental requirements of God – “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and your neighbour as yourself”. The second of those two requirements (love your neighbour) is totally dependent on the dynamic provided by the first (love the Lord your God). The nation has chosen a liberal secular belief system, opening the way for an increasingly self-indulgent life style, and the movement away from God has been swift. We have lost the anchor to which we have held (albeit often with lip service) for centuries. It is no longer woven into the national fabric. We have reverted to paganism. In all our praying for the nation (so desperately needed at this time) the confession of this must be paramount.
We are left literally to the mercy of God. He is ready to judge, but he is able to have mercy and restore. There is no other positive platform for our prayer other than that of pleading his mercy. “It is of his mercies that we are not consumed“.