Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Aftermath (1): An indestructible kingdom

I have some post-referendum thoughts.  This particular one is theological; others slightly less so.  It might be too soon, in which case maybe don't read them right now.  Most of my friends are pretty upset about the result (okay, very upset).  I am not upset, but I am nervous - I am by nature averse to change and in favour of the status quo!  In the run-up to the referendum, and even more in the aftermath, I've been pondering Daniel 2.  Here's where my thoughts have arrived.

1.  The kingdom of Christ (the stone) destroys the whole statue - that is to say, the kingdoms of the earth past and present (and presumably from the perspective of the book, future).  All of our politicing therefore has only relative significance: it takes place in the context of the growing, mountainous, enduring kingdom of the Lord Jesus, which can't be shaken by plebiscites, or war, or any other circumstance.

2.  The surface of history is just the constant churn of empires and peoples, but underneath is the sovereignty of the God of history.  In his plan, apparent disasters serve great goods.  Note that this plan might seem a long way down!  Underneath are the everlasting arms, but it might feel like a long drop before they scoop us up.  They are still there, regardless.

3.  Nebuchadnezzar's dream is not for him, not really: it is a comfort to Daniel and fellow exiles, who would understandably be tempted to think that everything is out of control.  It isn't.  The God of Israel, who gave his people into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar, is none the less God of gods and Lord of kings.

4.  So if you're a Christian who wanted a different result, by all means grieve and lament; in your view (which I can understand, even if I don't share it) something terrible has happened.  But in your grief, don't despair, and don't become bitter.  If you are right and I am wrong and this is terrible, it is still only relatively terrible, and God is in control.  That isn't trite, or just a pious thing we have to say.  It's the very heart of reality.  The kingdom of Christ will grow, regardless.  The relative good or evil of our political systems can and will serve him and his purposes.  Maybe this doesn't feel like a comfort right now, but if we are seeking Christ then it will be a comfort one day.  Hold on.

5.  If you're not a Christian, it is presumably of little comfort to know that God reigns.  It's true regardless, and it should be of comfort to you.  History is not a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.  It all takes place under the control of the good God, who in the person of his Son gave himself to crucifixion for you,because he loved you.


  1. Re: 4 - I get what your'e saying, but a lot of people have been saying something to the equivalent of 'don't worry! God's still in charge' and what they seem to mean by that is ' we'll be okay'. To which I want to say to them, 'but have you READ the Bible?? How many nations are brought to judgement because of their pride?? Do you think that Britain not deserving of that judgement?' (and then we'd probably end up in a discussion of dispensationalism and such...)

    And I am worried, because disabled people have already been substantially hit by the austerity cuts, and without the European Court of Human Rights which acted as a check and balance for some of UK's more cruel decisions, I fear that disabled people will be even worse off if we face further economic problems. I fear for people trapped in poverty, already dependent on food banks, and whoever will end up as a scapegoat for further welfare cuts. However long this economic downturn will last for Britain (whether a long-term decline or temporary blip) it will affect the vulnerable the most, and I think it is good to lament that. I don't know about not despairing - I want to say that, but in all honesty, it is hard for poor disabled people who are refused benefits because of an unjust system not to despair, and I'm aware that many have taken their lives. Most middle class people will not be too affected by a further recession, but there are plenty of people who will be. I would love to see the church rise up to fill the gap, but I have a feeling that the church - except in exceptional cases - is only good at the crisis, and not good at the long-term support of so many people in need. (I know we've discussed this before!) In the light of eternity, sure, Brexit may not matter too much, but in the immediate suffering of vulnerable people, it may matter a great deal.

    1. Yep, I mean, see my point 2 - it may be a looooong way down. I think where this sort of pastoral response goes wrong in general is when it tries to make the assurance of God's control and goodness sit too close to the surface, without therefore acknowledging that there really is desperately hard stuff to sift through and in some cases live through. On the other hand, I want to resist the idea that we can't take comfort in God's goodness!

      For myself, I have been thinking that in all sorts of ways we are ripe for judgement. Kyrie eleison.

  2. Re last sentence - amen.
    And - yes - perhaps a loooooooong way down... :-)