When it doesn’t go our way…

When I plan on going somewhere new, I tend to use a well-known maps app. I know where I want to get to, and I’ve got a plan to get there. I’m making progress until I come across a road closure; and without warning I’m diverted off course. Granted, the app should have prewarned me about the road closure, but as we know life does not always work out that way. Changes in circumstances can momentarily or for a longer period, knock us off the path to reaching our destination or goal. The road is closed, and a diversion is in place.

This analogy, while somewhat simple and low impact alludes to the journey that Christians in Northern Ireland have been on in the last number of years. With both our government and the unexpected (to some) changes in the ethical standards and morals of those in government.

This last mandate could be described, at best, as tumultuous; total collapse of the assembly, reformation, power-struggles, concluding with a non-functioning Executive. And perhaps most concerning, for the first time in NI history, there is no longer a pro-life majority represented among the 90 MLAs (You can read more about the impact of that [Abortion in Northern Ireland- How did we get here and where are we going] in a blog by CARE NI Policy Officer Rebecca Stevenson).

Should our stance and response as believers change when governments or aspects of government become hostile to Christians and the teaching of Scripture? Well, when the Israelites were carried away from Jerusalem in captivity to Babylon and forced to live under the rule and reign of Nebuchadnezzar. The prophet Jeremiah imparted words of delivery to the Lord’s people, which came from the throne of Heaven, “…seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.”

We are exiles. As Christians, we are living in a hostile and foreign land and the cry in our spirits is to go home. But while we are here, our response is not one of revolt or returned hostility, or even battening down the hatches and waiting for Jesus to come back. Rather our response should be an attitude of prayer and seeking good for all we live alongside. One way we can do this is by voting for those who have a servant heart, a respect and even love for God, His ways and the vulnerable.

And when it does not go our way? How should we respond when those in positions of power vote in support of laws which are dressed up as compassionate, but, devalue life and cause pain. We must take a stand. Remaining resolute in our purpose and desire to see the Kingdom come to earth by continuing to seek ways to bring this about through good governance and laws. Bringing this short reflection to a conclusion, I would like to remind you of the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” In other words, by failing to speak out, we are condoning and, in some ways, agreeing with laws and policies that go against God’s word and truth.  I urge you in Solomon’s words from Proverbs 31, “To speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves and ensure justice…” This is not a time to shrink back in defeat, because we are not defeated, we are part of the kingdom of God, we serve a victorious king, and we must continue to declare the truth, that every human is created by and known by God. //Hannah Arnold (CARE NI Development Officer)


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