Making our Choice
Even if one wanted to it is hardly possible to ignore the referendum on Scottish independence which is due to take place on September 18th. The campaigning has been going on for months, if not years, and of late the media have been giving the subject plenty of attention. Literature has dropped through letterboxes and homes have been visited. There is no doubt that the referendum has been a major talking point – which is not surprising given the importance of the issue.
For all the words spoken by the politicians and pundits there has been little discussion of the place religion will have in the Scotland of the future. That is surely significant. The sad fact is that our Christian heritage which was once so highly valued is now something of an embarrassment to those who occupy positions of power. As Christians we want to see the Bible and the gospel of Jesus Christ having a prominent place in our national life but the trend in modern Britain is to remove religion from the public sphere so that it becomes a private matter only.
How should believers view the referendum? We must realise that the referendum is not an election. We are not choosing an individual to represent us for a few years but making a decision about our country’s identity which could have consequences for generations. On this occasion especially we must be guided by scriptural principles.
In the first place the Bible teaches us that Christians should serve the Lord in everything they do (Col.3:17). For most people all that counts in making decisions is what suits themselves. By contrast believers are to be obedient to God’s will in all things, seeking His glory. We are not to follow the wisdom of this world but to endeavour to have the mind of Christ. We will get this as we humble ourselves and pray, “Lead me in thy truth, and teach me” (Psa.25:5). We ought to honour the Lord with our vote.
Then the Bible teaches us that Christians should place the Lord’s cause above everything else (Psa.122:6; 137:6). Many will be tempted to vote one way or the other by promises that they or their fellow men will be better off in this life. Yet Jesus tells His disciples to “take no thought” what they shall eat or drink or wear. He says: “seek ye first the kingdom of God...and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt.6:31-33). The kingdom is “not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Rom.14:17). Our main priority must be spiritual, not material.
What is particularly worrying about the proposals for independence is that the constitutional changes they envisage have the potential to open the door even wider than it already is to the harmful influences of Romanism and secularism. As a nation which has covenanted with God the solemn truth is that the more we depart from His ways the more His judgments follow us. “For the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted” (Isa.60:12).
Finally the Bible teaches us that Christians should remember that the Lord is in control of everything (Eph. 1:11). Whatever the outcome of the referendum there is comfort for the church of God in the truth of divine providence. We may be confident that His cause will remain and that His people will be eternally safe. Let us make sure that we are among them.