Thursday 31 December 2015

The Archbishop of Canterbury has stated that Christianity is in danger of being driven out of the lands in which it was born; this is very true, but what is being treated in too casual way is the way Christianity is being driven out of the public life in the two principal countries in which it has thrived, namely Britain and the United States. We can only watch in thrilling admiration as it now thrives in Africa, Far Eastern lands, and South America.

All devout and committed Christians must surely feel deeply concerned over the way the Church and Christian faith in this country is being ignored and sidelined. The majority of people see the Church as irrelevant and having no place in their lives. The Church should be responding far more positively than it is, indeed it often seems as few in the Church really care. If a secular business found it was losing customers in the same proportion that the Church is losing members, drastic steps would be taken.
Christianity has been the faith of this country for over 1500 years and its influence has kept the country as a stable nation, offering moral and social guidelines. The Church has been at the forefront of most major social, educational and medical achievements.

We now face a systematic attack on this faith by ideologues in political circles to remove Christianity from public life; people who betray and dislike the culture which nurtured them and are placing restriction on Christian expression. Secularist politicians are trying to take Christianity out of public life.

There is a verse in Psalm 11. It was written when David was experiencing trouble and living at a time when society was in moral abandon. When the foundations are being destroyed, what shall the righteous do?

The foundations that are spoken of in this verse are the foundations of justice and order that support society; the social, moral, ethical and religious foundations that keep a culture from crumbling.

We are facing exactly the same situation that David is facing in this Psalm. We live in a nation where the foundations are being destroyed. We are like a car parked on a hill without the handbrake being put on, so heading for disaster.

Another foundation of this country, indeed the very bedrock of society, was the family, built on the Biblical concepts of father, mother, husband, wife; these terms have become abused, and with government encouragement and urging, have different interpretations to that given by God at creation. We no longer build our families on the solid rock of God’s word, but on the ever-shifting, ever-changing sands of political dogma.

The Judiciary have categorically stated that religious beliefs should not be an influence when making political or judicial decisions.

We live in a country in which we are supposed to be tolerant to other people. We are to resist all bigotry and prejudice and must not make adverse comment on race, religion or sexuality. Recent events have shown however, that is unless intolerance and bigotry is against Christians or Christianity; then it is open season. The only group which you can hold up to public mockery and criticism are Christians. We have been held up as intolerant bigots.

The devil has sure got a foothold into this country as people have given up on God and rebelled against Him. Minority groups have been allowed to acquire a power and influence way beyond their proportion in the country.

A Muslim man and his family living in one of our big cities decided to become Christians and attend the Church of England. As a result, his car was trashed, his house constantly attacked, and his children bullied at school. The police are stated to be reluctant to classify this as ‘hate crime’, yet this was hardly mentioned in the secular press. It seems to be only Christians who can offend.

Street preachers are being arrested on spurious grounds. A Christian Minister is being prosecuted for criticising Islam in a Church service sermon, yet the converse does not apply.

Christ is used as an expletive and is the subject of mockery and on television in a manner which the cowards who do this would never hold up any other religious leader to such banter.

As a nation we have let one traditional practice after another be eroded, taking the view each time it is only one thing which won’t make much difference. It is like taking one stone from a building at a time until eventually the whole structure collapses, and that is what is happening to our society. Our moral base is crumbling and the Christian Church has largely stood by, with even some clergy helping to demolish the moral foundation.

As we look and consider life in this country at the present time it must surely give to all intelligent people grave cause for concern for we see a nation in moral and spiritual decline where the barriers of decency have been swept away so that we are left without restraint where there is no definition between right or wrong.

In State schools more time is given to sex education than religion, which is probably excluded all together in some schools. A time may well come when young people will have no knowledge of the Christian faith at all, and from interviews seen on television, they have virtually none now.

When the foundations are destroyed, what shall the righteous do? How should the Church respond?

A great difficulty arises within the Church. We have no spiritual person of stature nationally to present our faith adequately. The man who should be that person is the Archbishop of Canterbury, but of course any man who was prepared to be positive in his views on morality and faith would never have been appointed to that position. Hope was raised on Justin Welby, but who failed miserably when marriage was being redefined, and seemed to be facing in both directions at the same time.

Another difficulty is that we have those who are theologically conservative, trying to be faithful to Scripture, whilst those of liberal persuasion want to rewrite those parts of Scripture which do not conform to modern morality and social custom. It is fatuous and irrational to suppose biblical injunctions, which do not conform to modern attitudes, can be reinterpreted to suit to-day’s requirements. . Christians should not allow themselves to link their lives with modern society.

Such action can only cause confusion in people’s minds. They can be excused for saying if the Church can’t make its own mind up, how can they expect us to believe and trust them. No Muslin would ever think of challenging their holy book, the Koran, and look in amazement that even within the Church, there are those who dispute much of our Holy Book.

We have allowed the absolute authority of the Bible to be challenged, so that people venture more and more away from its teaching. If Christians lose the shared beliefs that have held us together, we will begin to fall apart and disintegrate.

The Church is beginning to look more influenced by the world rather than the other way round. The more we try to be relevant, the more irrelevant to our purpose we become. We should not be blown away by every whim of public opinion, but let our anchor hold in the storms of life.

But do not make the mistake of thinking you can violate God. He has laid down rules, but too often they merely are treated as a basis for negotiation. Seventy years ago men fought the battle of Britain against foreign aggression, now it is a fight for Britain against the forces of evil. We need a spiritual revival such as that which once swept through Wales in 1904.

Bishop Nazir-Ali, who left the Church of England, has been the one Christian leader prepared to speak out on these issues, stated, ‘if Britain is to defend its values successfully, it must rediscover the Christian faith in which those values are ultimately rooted.’

What can the righteous do? When the foundations are destroyed, many people feel unable to cope. The righteous can do their duty. Because the foundations are crumbling and the social order is deteriorating, we need not stand aside and express regret.

We must then do all we can to rebuild the foundations. We can do what that little band of men did who met in the Upper Room 2000 years ago and turned the world upside down

We should be most concerned about the way our faith is being undermined. It is not just any faith which someone has made up, but one which lies at the heart of our heritage. It is the only faith which can be proven; with the only leader who died and rose again. If you reject Christianity you reject all our values and history. We must live up to our heritage for intolerance of Christianity reduces goodness.

We must be ready to challenge the zealots who want to stop Christians from expressing their faith. We should not be bullied nor should we buckle down. Much has been written and said about the Equality and Diversity Act, a rather oppressive piece of legislation which makes some more equal and diverse than others, and offends Christian beliefs. Christians too have human rights.

Pulpits are being silenced; the teaching of Christianity and the knowledge of what God has said are being taken out of the school curriculum, with the requirement that other faiths have to be taught, so we have a culture which is biblically illiterate.

Let us stand for the old standards the way Christians once did, no matter how difficult that might become and not go with the trend of the times.

We need to be more positive, even aggressive, in giving people a clear vision of what it means to be a Christian and to have a Christian based society. We now have to proclaim it boldly and challenge those who try to put us down. There is a spiritual and moral vacuum, and if we do not fill it some other philosophy will which will be much inferior.

So, what for the future of the Church? There is hope and confidence if all members realize there is no hope if they are content to sit back and say ethereally, ‘God will provide’. Christ did say ‘I will build my Church’, but He expects a little help from His friends.

We must live in such a way as to show others how right it is to live according to God’s word and be open about our faith. The Bible states, let your light shine before men’ Even if the judicial system becomes corrupt, as more judges are deciding against us. In such an hour we are tempted to give up the fight, to yield to the immorality of the world, to give up on spreading the kingdom of God.

We can support those Christian charities like ‘Christian Concern’ which does such a devoted and valiant work in representing and defending Christians who face opposition because of their faith and suffer discrimination, sanction and suspension in this country.

In the absence of any great inspiration from the leaders of our national denominations, some of whom are more concerned with promoting their own c.vs than promoting the gospel, each local Church should devise its own programme of evangelism.

The only hope for our nation is a recovery of the gospel and God’s total Word for our Church and society. Without a return to Christian foundations of social order, our liberty, freedoms, justice and truth will disappear. A spiritual vacuum will be created which will be filled with something less acceptable.

May God give all Churches and Christians the courage to stand and fight whilst we have a place to stand. May we yield ourselves to Jesus Christ who always has our good at heart; One we can trust, who loved us so much that He gave His life at the Cross that we may have everlasting life. We must learn to live by His plans and never be led by society.

Let me close with the words of Pastor Niemoller which come to mind as an appropriate reminder to Christians of the danger that exists to our faith.
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

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