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  • Writer's pictureRoss Moughtin

When our NO is actually an YES!

YES – it’s a NO! By a margin of 10%. But I wonder if the result have been any different if the referendum question had been asked the opposite way round, such as “Should Scotland remain part of the United Kingdom?” If you want independence, you vote NO. For we all prefer the word YES – it’s positive, affirming, optimistic even.

You may remember the slogan for the TSB as “the Bank which likes to say Yes.” Whatever your request, we are going to say YES. (No wonder the bank went under). It was Tony Blair – who in order to keep the promise made by his predecessor, John Smith, initiated the whole process of devolution – reflects “The art of leadership is saying NO, not saying YES. It is very easy to say YES.” For no one likes to hear the word NO. Notice how the NO campaign rebranded themselves as “Better Together.” Even some of the posters, I notice, proclaim “NO thanks” or even the slogan presented within the shape of a heart “Love Scotland, vote NO.” Anything to blunt the force of the word NO. As Mae West once observed “I only have YES men around me. Who needs NO men? Well actually, Jesus for one. In fact, he defines his disciples as those men and women who are able to say NO. “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23) Sometimes he actually spells this out. So he sends his disciples out on mission: ‘Take nothing for the journey – no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt.” (Luke 9:3). That’s five NO’s in one verse! You can’t get any clearer than that. Learning to say NO – especially to ourselves – is a key spiritual discipline, simply in order to survive in this beguiling world. And it is never easy. However, we are able to say NO because we have elected to say YES to Jesus. So the forgiven and restored Peter, on being commissioned afresh by the risen Jesus says YES no less than three times: “YES, Lord; you know that I love you.” The most remarkable fact of the Scottish referendum was that the turnout was an incredible 84.5%. The reason being that each vote counted, every single person was given the opportunity of choosing their country’s future. For the astonishing truth of God’s creation is that we are given the opportunity to choose our own destiny – to say YES to the call of God on our lives. Each one of us. And above all Jesus embodies God’s YES. So the apostle Paul rejoices: “Whatever God has promised gets stamped with the YES of Jesus. In him, this is what we preach and pray, the great Amen, God’s YES and our YES together, gloriously evident. “God affirms us, making us a sure thing in Christ, putting his YES within us. By his Spirit he has stamped us with his eternal pledge—a sure beginning of what he is destined to complete.” (2 Corinthians 1:2 The Message translation”

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