We steam ahead with the third of seven guest contributions giving us new insights and perspectives on Scotland’s Referendum on independence. Today I am delighted to introduce James Faddes as our guest writer. A man who is hilarious, passionate and intellectual. I first got to know James when he led a church youth group I attended. He was mad, rad and thrilling to know. An interesting conversationlist and deep thinker. Where is James at when it comes to Referendum?
I am somewhat wary of nationalism and patriotism. The passionate Scottish variety is very powerful. I know its because as a Baptist, I believe in a free church, within a free state, and so have no expectation that Christianity is entitled to a special, privileged position within the UK; or within an independent Scotland. And also because my primary allegiance is to Jesus Christ and him alone. Jesus is my hope, and the hope of the nations, and he takes the highest place. It seems to me that in the gospels, for Jesus, nation, tribe and clan were somewhere down on the pecking order to his true family, made up of those who did God’s will, and that is my conviction.
That said, I have decided to vote and modestly campaign for an independent Scotland, because I believe the right people to govern this nation, and choose its politicians, are those who live and work here. That seems to me like the definition of democracy. Like many in the UK, Scotland is a nation hungry for change. I see the need for change everywhere – including within the church. This is a time that is ripe for change.
Myself, and many others I know, have felt powerless to influence UK politics for some time. That is not democracy. Some deny nationality as a concept, or that Scotland is a nation, but a mere tax region of the UK. However, like a young man staying with his elder brother, but filled with hopes and dreams of liberty, Scotland has not been allowed its own front door keys, or bank account, to reach for the change it desires. This desire has been called a number of things – independence, separation, freedom, self-determination, self-governance, liberty, or autonomy. But it seems to me that we are talking about simple democracy.
Whatever we call it, the redistribution of power and the new accountable politics brought about by a yes vote will reinvigorate Scotland, calling a nation to renewal. Sometimes you just gotta be born again! Dream big dreams. Hopeful ones. The opportunity to remove weapons of mass destruction from the shores of this island, setting an example for the world, is within Scotland’s reach. That’s a beautiful thing. I hope it happens. For my generation and future generations. They say hope doesn’t disappoint.
I love the land of my sojourn and its people, I love our neighbours, and I am part of a nation and an international family of every ethnic flavour. I dream of a Scotland that confidently represents itself around that international family table, with wisdom, integrity, compassion and justice.
But without apology, I am a messenger of a different society altogether. There is a society that is brighter, and more lasting than any society we have ever known. It is a heavenly society; a peaceable kingdom with a new humanity. Although every nation, tribe and tongue is honoured and invited to citizenship, this heavenly society knows no borders, needs no passports, and its currency is love. If you look, listen, and forage carefully, you will be able to find and join it here and now. It has been gently influencing this world for some time. Breaking in, rooting itself in the soil of community, nation and to the ends of the earth. Like a small amount of yeast working through a large batch of dough. Like tiny dispersed grains of salt, bringing out the God flavours of life. This kingdom has been rejected, pierced, bruised and battered over the years; but it is tenacious, persistent, and it rises from every tomb with a surprising, forgiving, healing, life-giving smile.
This kingdom won’t dazzle you with its pomp and procession. It is a humble kingdom with no great earthly treasures to fight over – its central bank is indebted to all. All are welcome to shelter beneath this small shrub of a society, and freely eat and drink at its feast. The freedom of this kingdom is not dependent upon a modern constitution or a bill of human rights, but a blessed manifesto. Its defence system is not aggressive, military, digital, or nuclear, for it does not wage war as the world wages war. Its swords have been beaten into ploughshares.
Instead it has divine power to demolish strongholds and speak truth to power. It is dependent upon a joyful declaration – ‘Jesus Christ is King.’ The King who declares himself as one who ‘came not to be served but to serve.’
Jesus raises up the poor, the broken, the captives, the indebted little people, the meek. He brings down the mighty, the rich, the powerful and greedy oil barons, vast land owners, and the intimidating warmongers. That’s the kind of stuff that got him crucified. But death can’t keep a good man down. In this kingdom, the first shall be last and the last become first. In this kingdom, there shall be rest, on the earth as in heaven.
Many in Scotland, the UK, and across the world remain hungry and thirsty for the righteousness of this little kingdom. We have sought and found it in justice for the poor, rights for the oppressed, freedom for captives, food for the hungry, healing for the sick, and swords beaten into ploughshares.
Many remain disappointed, as though it were a naïve ideal. I say, hope, with all your heart!
The kingdom I speak of is very close.
In fact, its here. Now.
Lets just reach out, welcome and embrace it.