What in the world do Brexit, globalism and the gospel have to do with each other?
On the surface, they seem very distinct. However, if we dig a bit deeper in an attempt to understand their spiritual nature, we might discover their connections.
The United Kingdom approved a referendum with 51.9% approval on June 23, 2016, to leave the European Union.
Known as Brexit, a slim majority of British citizens voted for a populist ideology that argued immigrants were causing cultural and economic issues, hard borders were needed to keep the U.K. physically and economically safe, and isolationism would be a better political strategy than remaining within the European Union.
Over the past three years, a growing number of British citizens who voted to leave the EU have come to understand that withdrawing from community brings real and dire consequences.
Parliament is currently in shambles with politicians unable to agree on a Brexit plan.
Theresa May resigned as prime minister over her inability to secure a Brexit deal, and the new prime minister, Boris Johnson, continues to lose support from his party as he continues to hold out the possibility of a no-deal Brexit.
As they race toward an Oct. 31 exit deadline, the world watches as the sixth-largest economy fills with anxiety.
The inability of “Leave” voters to internally reflect upon their liabilities and externally blame others for their problems has left the nation isolated and facing the cruel reality of existing without community.
While shortcomings regarding globalization certainly exist, people of the world must eventually accept the essential benefits of existing and working within a global community.
Rigid isolationism creates cultural silos, perpetuating a self-ascribed prominence and fear of other cultures.
The embrace of globalization does not mean a rejection of cultural nuances but places those nuances within a larger community that generates broad diversity and expansive community.
“Globalization makes it impossible for modern societies to collapse in isolation,” Jared Diamond wrote in his book, “Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fall or Succeed.”
Why? When a group of people recognizes the significance of community, an interdependence emerges to promote strategic collaboration and mutual success.
The old New England adage rings true, “A rising tide lifts all boats.”
As a Jesus follower, I must draw upon his outlook on the world, measuring it against worldviews that might hinder his redemptive mission.
While Jesus used Palestine as his home base, I believe he was a globalist at heart.
If Jesus had been an isolationist, he would have concerned himself exclusively with the redemption of Israel. On the contrary, Jesus had a much broader vision for the gospel.
In his vision for the disciples, Jesus emphasized his global dream to bring all humans into communion with God and each other.
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth,” Jesus declared in Acts 1:8.
Jesus’ global vision centers on the notion that all humans are God’s children. In his interaction with the Samaritan woman in John 4, Jesus downplayed their differences and focused on their similarities.
“Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem,” he said. “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming and is now here when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
This global understanding of God’s redemptive plan is highlighted in Jesus’ answer regarding the Greatest Commandments, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27).
Jesus demonstrates his global vision in the parable that follows. Using a Samaritan as the hero of his story emphasized that God’s redemptive vision was much broader than the isolationists of his day. They were only worried about their salvation, while Jesus was worried about global salvation (Luke 10:29-37).
Finally, when Jesus declared God’s love for the world, we can trust that he meant the world as a whole, not just a select few (John 3:16-17).
Taking Jesus’ global gospel into account, we must let his broader vision and understanding of the world influence our worldview.
In other words, I cannot see Jesus supporting an isolationist agenda when he taught and practiced a love that knew no bounds.
With Brexit heating up and the deadline quickly approaching, I hope the world will help the United Kingdom and her citizens.
The mistake to give in to populists’ fears about the world can be redeemed and replaced by an opportunity for global community and cooperation.
While politicians continue to conjecture possible outcomes, the church can begin to heal these wounds and build bridges for the future.
As Shane Claiborne pointed out, “The church was an international institution long before globalization.” For God so truly loved the entire world, that God sent Jesus.