One of the rich and interesting challenges of Christian service is that Christians are people of conviction. Missionaries perhaps even more so. A certain determination and firm-mindedness is necessary to face up to the obstacles involved in cross-cultural ministry. This can, of course, lead to tension, because not every conviction is shared by all.
What sometimes helps us is to see that not all convictions are equally important, and not all positions can be held or argued in the same way.
For example, we make a serious mistake if we give musical style in worship the same importance that we give to the nature of God or the person of Christ. Neither Luther nor Calvin sang Isaac Watts. Augustine would not have recognised a Geneva jig. (Try singing a traditional French psalm one day and you'll find out why they had that nickname!) But all shared the same convictions about the trinity and about the hypostatic union. Some things change. Others stay the same.
I want to venture, humbly and gently, to suggest that the way we argue for things could and ought to reflect their importance in our convictions.
For example, maybe people are right to ride into battle about the question of subordination being an inherent feature of the nature of the trinity, though it is always good to moderate our language. Speak forcefully with gentle words. Try to avoid calling brothers heretics if we can!
But when we ride into battle for a biblical view of nations and try to equate the United Kingdom with some concept held in biblical times I think we're on MUCH more shaky ground. Which biblical times? Abraham's? Moses'? Isaiah's? Luke's? A democratic, constitutional monarchy, composed of four nations, with several languages and a very mixed genetic make-up, reflecting millennia of immigration? Whatever would Solomon make of that? Were the Celts the first people to arrive in these islands? We don't even know! So let's tread carefully, eh? We are guests in these islands. The earth belongs to God, not to us.
Otherwise what will we do when the United Kingdom is Untied and becomes the Kingdom of England, with an independent European Scotland and a semi-united Ireland? Perhaps in the end the reestablishment of the kingdom of Wessex should be our goal? Or a new Boudicca reining perhaps from a renewed Colchester?
Likewise the EU. Whether we voted for or against Brexit, none of us knows what the future holds, short-term or long-term. We may rejoice with those wonderful, extravagant Independence Day parties or we may mourn and explore our Scottish or Irish ancestry for possible passport options, but in the end Christians know that God is working out his plan to save his people from every nation, tongue and tribe, and to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ.
And in that we are all agreed.