Community and unity
Now the election results are in, on a national level it is another case of “The people have spoken, but what did they say?!” In contrast to the Prime Minister’s election message of stability, it looks as though there will be uncertainty for some time. Just as the nation was divided over Brexit with a small majority for ‘Leave’, now the nation is divided again and it is not clear what will be the long term outcome.
Some will say the election result shows the strength of democracy, some will say it allows no one party to be too dominant and that is good for the country. Others may fear it will cause power to lie somewhere in the middle ground so that more and more people move to extreme political views, either wanting change or just out of frustration over one issue or another. The particular issue that might cause many ordinary people to go to extreme views, of course, is how to deal with the threat of terrorism. There seems to be growing fear and anger that “they seem to get away with it” that might degenerate into targeting all Muslims on the grounds of race or religion.
But there is also a healthy strand in politics: a longing for community and for people to work together and get on together. About a year ago, Jo Cox MP was murdered and the tragedy drew attention to one particular thing she said in her maiden speech in the House of Commons. It has been widely quoted. “What surprises me time and time again as I travel around the constituency is that we are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.” Whatever people may think of her political views and campaigns, many would applaud the commitment to helping the community work together for the common good. In fact, the common good is the original meaning of the word “Commonwealth” – there is more wealth/prosperity when we work together. This is true but as Christians we know a deeper truth: where there is unity the Lord commands blessing (see Psalm 133.1).
Deep in the heart of every human is a God given longing for true community, for working together. “It is not good for a man to be alone,” God said, in Gen 2:18. and He created men and women in such a way that it is only in community, when working together, that we can really achieve great things. That is why in Genesis 11 we read God had to divide the people into disparate languages to prevent them working together independently from Him, or they would have created a very powerful but idolatrous religious edifice!
One of the Wolverhampton MPs elected on Thursday, Emma Reynolds, said on Friday morning “Whichever government is formed today it must bring people together not divide us.” She was speaking after her own result was announced but before the national picture was clear. Another of the Wolverhampton MPs, Eleanor Smith, explained in an interview after the election that she celebrated the diverse community in Wolverhampton and paid tribute to the team involved in her successful campaign. She described it as a team of people of “all faiths and none.” But she also said “I am a Christian – I pray a lot.” Taking a strong, clear position does not stop her or any of us from working with many who disagree to make things better for the whole community.
As Christians we might have diverse political views but we more than anyone in the community can demonstrate what unity can achieve. We do not have to rely only on some “common bond,” something in common that binds us together (like living in the same city). We have something far more real and powerful joining us together if we allow the Holy Spirit to fill us and lead us. We have in common ….. God Himself! “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace,” Paul said in Eph 4.3.
God creates unity and we choose to keep it in peace as we co-operate with Him and follow Him. That is what humans are really created for! So until we see the heavenly city here on Earth, until we see the Kingdom come, which will be by God’s sovereign power not the work of politicians, let’s be a good example and work for peace so that the unity in our community can be strengthened.