From the Vicarage
As I write, the Scottish vote on independence will be held tomorrow. The polls today show the gap between yes and no stands at 4%, which is too close to call. By the time you read this, the votes will be known and the future path of our nation or nations set before us.
Listening to the debates, which have become increasingly bitter and acrimonious, like all divorces, I have asked myself a few questions. First, what good news is there? Second, what hope is on offer? Third, what fears are there?
The pro-independence good news story is “Scots are good at organising themselves, we should celebrate and recognise our ability.” And their message of hope is “Scotland will be more prosperous, fair and just without the rest of the UK”. The fears of the pro-dependence group are largely “we won’t have control of our own destiny, unless we are independent.”
The pro-union, better together, good news story is “This union has been one of the most successful in the history of the world.” The message of hope is “We’ll continue to be successful together.” And the fears of the pro-union group are largely “we believe the cost of divorce and the uncertainty of the situation will lead to economic disaster, as foreign investors pull out, the pound is devalued, people stop investing and we end up arguing as two countries over the remaining assets.”
What has been absent from these stories is any good news, hope and fear which would create real unity.
There is a different good news story, a better hope and a greater fear which truly unites peoples of many nations. I was reminded about this on this morning’s thought for the day. A former moderator of the Church of Scotland told the story of Jesus’ disciples, who came from very different backgrounds. Matthew had been a Jewish tax collector who collaborated with the Roman empire. Simon the zealot had been an anti-Roman urban terrorist, who was determined to see the destruction of the Roman empire. And yet, once Jesus had united them with his good news, his hope and his fear, the two former enemies became united in the mission to the nations of the world.
The good news is better than nationalistic pride or living on the success of the past. The good news is that Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, came into the world to save and reconcile sinners, by his death of the cross, and so unite enemies in love. The hope of this good news is better than success or prosperity, it is the hope of a kingdom of united nations, under one king, which spreads peace and his reign forever. The fears of the citizens of Christ’s kingdom are not of self-centred economic destiny, but are fears for the good of anyone who does not belong to Christ when he returns one day as judge. And so the kingdom of Christ always seeks to add members from different nations by preaching the good news, the hope and the fears of Christ’s kingdom.