We need to respond with the values that we see in Jesus Christ’s life.
The Catalonia independence debate in Spain can easily be reduced to a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question with the answer splitting families and faith communities. How could Christians respond to such a situation?
Religion and politics are topics that are quite often shunned in our everyday conversations. There are times, however, that these topics can no longer be avoided at the coffee table.
The referendum on independence for Catalonia might be such a time and topic. The debate can easily be reduced to a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question with the answer splitting families and faith communities. How could Christians respond to such a situation?
As human beings, we are all created into the image of God. He created mankind. That’s how all families, clans and nations got started. Our features, language and culture reflect some of God's creativity.
Most of us will feel deeply about our native soil and there is nothing wrong with that. But as Christians we all have dual citizenship, our national and our eternal one in Christ. We can be proud of both!
Even though we are united in Christ and live in the same country, we don’t all think and feel the same and that should be fine. But it will not always be easy. It might help to take one step back and ask ourselves some reflective questions:
- How can we bless Spain and/or Catalonia in the midst of strong opinions and fierce debates?
- What is our deepest calling as evangelicals?
- Where can we build bridges rather than walls?
- What opportunities does the crisis provide for the gospel?
A referendum by nature boils down complicate issues to just a simple yes or no question. But real life is hardly ever as simple as that. Even the Catalonia referendum is not just about becoming independent. That’s just the way your country is organised.
- But how will Spain or Catalonia look like after the referendum?
- How will that affect you and/or the evangelical community in Spain?
- What changes do you want to see to make it resemble a real ‘Christian’ country?
- What can you do to make that happen?
- What can you as Spanish Christians do to serve your country?
Well before the referendum on the independence of Scotland, the Scottish Evangelical Alliance launched an initiative called What Kind of Nation? Based on common values and Christian principles, the initiative provided a holistic vision for their nation. Their manifesto covered the nation, the economy, the family, the society, and the environment. What principles should apply?
Based on that shared vision, they left it to their people to choose what vote would bring that vision closer. Of course, the position of the evangelical community in society in Scotland is different from the position of evangelicals in Catalonia but the Scottish example of starting with an encompassing vision rather than a simple yes or no question about independence, might challenge us to dream about our country and it can inspire us to do some long-term thinking as well.
There are no easy answers to all the questions mentioned, if there are answers at all. But I strongly believe that when we will all prayerfully consider these questions, at least some glimmers of an answer will become visible and some path will unroll before our eyes.
As citizens of God's Kingdom, this path may go well beyond our daily concerns as the horizon is different.
I call on all Christians, regardless whether you would call yourselves Catalonian, Spanish, or both, to work united for the best of your country and your people and for the Glory of our God.
Arie de Pater, Brussels representative of the European Evangelical Alliance.