Christian hope is rooted in the resurrection of Jesus and the promise of eternal life with Him. It is not about present circumstances or what is currently in fashion or causing consternation to society. The hope that we have is the grounding for our lives, and the basis on which we can offer hope to society.

In challenging and uncomfortable times, this should bring comfort because we know that God is not fazed by the circumstances we are facing. We can look to history and remember that the church has navigated far more turbulent times in past. 

We can look to the church across the world which experiences persecution for their faith. In the three years since the vote in June 2016 to leave the European Union, politics has been dominated by attempts to achieve this and efforts to frustrate it.

The relative stability of British politics has been overturned with resignations and defections. We have seen the rise and fall of political parties seeking to step into the gaps created. The uncertainty has led to anxiety and fear for many about the future. We cannot dismiss or ignore the discomfort many are feeling outside and inside the church.


The story we are told by the world is defined by winners and losers, success and failure, seeming chaos and the search for certainty. The extraordinary political moves of recent years have offered us one version of the story we are collectively living through. But we should not fall into the trap of accepting it, whether that’s in support or opposition to political events. As a church we can offer a narrative of hope for the future that goes far beyond contemporary political debates.

This isn’t to say that Brexit and the place of the UK in the world are not important questions, nor that as Christians we shouldn’t be involved. It’s to say that, as we are involved, we seek to tell a better story for society. We cannot be defined by the story the world tells, but we can fix our attention to the God story that we are a part of. 

While there is much to fear in our world, we are commanded not to fear. While it can be hard to understand the times we are in, we can understand God’s place above all things, and our place in His plan. So, how can Christians offer a better narrative for our society? How can we put aside fear and replace it with sure and certain hope?

Recognise the idolatry of politics

First, I think we should seek to recognise the idolatry of politics in our present moment. This has often been the case, but increasingly politics is looked to as the ultimate power, the cause and the answer to all of society’s ills, the only remedy for entrenched disagreement and provider of the way forward. Idolising politics is unhelpful; it doesn’t work. Politics is important but when we give it more power than it can handle it places a good thing into a position it cannot sustain. It can only fail to live up to our expectations and demands.

Government is a God-ordained institution – not any particular form, and certainly not any specific governing party – but as the right ordering of our society. While the Bible is ambivalent about the form of government, and recognises the limitations of earthly rule, it also establishes it as legitimate. 

When Jesus flummoxed the Pharisees with His answer of what to do with the coin bearing Caesar’s image, He not only affirmed the overall sovereignty of God but also the delegated role that earthly institutions have. Likewise, before Pilate Jesus reminded him that the authority Pilate had came from the Father in heaven.

Idolatry grows when we take something that is good in its place and ask it to do something it is not designed for. Whether this is money, relationships, our roles and responsibilities in this world, or the systems we live in and through, each have their appropriate place. When we misplace these things, we turn them into idols. When our idols disappoint, we lose faith in them. 

When we expect laws to resolve all problems in society and they do not, there is a wider distrust in the rule of law. When politics does not adequately arbitrate disagreement and help us find a way forward as a society, we doubt the good that can be done through the process. 

Time and again the scriptures remind us to rely not on politics or people for our future, but to trust in God’s love and His faithfulness. Perhaps the first step in offering hope to society is to recognise the idols in our own thinking, to repent and seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness, knowing that all things will follow in their proper place.

Know where we want to go

We need to have a vision of where we want to go. It is not enough to recognise the current frustration or accurately analyse where it has come from. We need a vision for the future. You may want freedom from the laws of the EU, but to what end? Or freedom of movement of people, goods and services, but why?

Christians have a significant contribution to offer here. We know that what is achieved here on earth is only ever a part of all the good that is to come. We know that whether we leave the EU or not, that isn’t the end of the story, so we have a role to play in encouraging our friends and neighbours to lift their heads, look beyond the immediate, and think about where they and we are going.

This is where hope comes in. Hope isn’t about denying the challenges of the present or ignoring the disappointment many experience; it is about looking beyond that. We offer hope in the person of Jesus, and as His followers we offer hope to society. Just as we believe that one day God will reconcile all things to Himself, we work in the world He created to do the work that He called us to.

Hope calls us to a vision of how things could be. As Martin Luther King Jr. said: We should be as maladjusted as the prophet Amos, who in the midst of injustices of his day, could cry out in words that echo across the centuries, Let justice roll down like waters…’”

Witness to an alternative

It is not just for individual Christians to speak up for hope. We need Christians in all areas of our society, whether that is politics, business, the media, education, healthcare – the list could go on – but we also need the church to offer an alternative to society.

The church is a vital public institution and not just a collection of Christians. In the local community it provides stability, in the physical fabric of buildings it offers space, in the open arms of a welcoming community it demonstrates love. But the church is more than a service provider, more than a body with volunteer capacity to plug the gaps left by the state.

It is an alternative to the public ordered by secular values and organised through the secular state. The church
provides a witness to what society could be like, in the relationships between generations, in the centrality of family life, in the care and compassion for each other, and in the commitment to worshipping and honouring God.

The church doesn’t achieve this by ignoring the world or separating out from it, and nor is it achievable if the church is co-opted into the world or just tries to copy the world’s ways. As the church sets its hope on God and His glory, it can walk in the world with confidence of God’s goodness. As followers of Christ we are His church.

This is not about other people. It is our role to be God’s ambassadors; at times of political chaos, we should be the people who offer hope to society. Our vision for society isn’t defined by party politics or frustrated by current events. It isn’t affected by political realignments or dependant on favourable coverage. We hold fast to the truth of God’s goodness, His intent, and His desire to work through us. We offer hope and speak truth. We pour love into a climate of bitterness, and we pray for God’s kingdom to come.