Helen Kirk: May 2016
Are you 'in' or are you 'out'? It is a question I have been asked more than once in recent weeks. 'Innies and 'outies' always make me think of belly buttons but this is a far more serious question: this is about our place in Europe and what we each believe is best for our nation. It is an important issue.
Now, I know which way I will be voting, (don't worry I'm not going to use this article for my own personal propaganda), but for many who have not made up their mind it can feel like a minefield of information (or misinformation depending on where you are coming from.) However, one thing that strikes me is that all the arguments seem to boil down to 'what will I get out of it?' or 'am I getting the best deal?' So often we are encouraged to form an opinion on an issue from a very selfish perspective: how will this affect me rather than how will this affect another.
We sometimes say similar things in the life of the church; the style of our worship, the events we support, our use of resources, can, if we are not careful, become very subjective. If we are not careful, church can be about what works for me rather than others.
William Temple once said of the church 'it is the only society on earth that exists for the benefit of non-members'. This means we have a very different philosophy from other organisations. We do not belong to the church for our own benefit; we worship because we believe it is important for our society; we pray and give for others; our calendar has events that do not just uplift us but are purposely open to all; we offer hospitality not merely to those we like to meet with, but to those we don't!
Our church community should have an entirely distinctive character because it is not first and foremost about my experience but how I can enable the experience of another.
As St Paul wrote: 'Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others' (Philippians 2: 3-4)
So whether it is casting a vote, expressing an opinion, or using our time, may we always hold in mind a perspective that is wider than our own; a vision that encompasses the needs of others.
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