Christian Witness in the shadow of #BREXIT

It’s incredibly concerning to see that across social media, and within our state broadcaster and other media, there is an appalling lack of wisdom in words uttered and views shared when it comes to the outcome of the referendum last week. What is even more shocking is the lack of grace, wisdom and love being shown across the Christian Church:

Democracy is an amazing thing…

…and the democratic process last week is proof of that. There will be those who are delighted that their view prevailed and others sad that theirs didn’t…

…but complaints against democracy are a very dangerous 

I have no doubt that just under half of the readers of this will be sore at the outcome, and just over half will be delighted, but what is required now is for people of all political views, of both the in and the out voters to stop battling and start getting on with the all important job of moving ahead positively; to avoid either vitriol or triumphalism and take a measured positive step, followed by another and another.

however we exercised our democratic right on June 23rd 2016, Britain can an will be great, but only if we so choose…

Christians are at risk of being appalling witnesses by showing a severe lack of compassion and wisdom in this!

Let’s not let this political vacuum intensify the spiritual vacuum – Let’s show the love of Christ as we navigate through the minefield of politics ahead, and let us stand firmly on His Word: continuing to be salt and light to a fallen world, and facing the future with His hope, be steadfast in sharing that hope with the world around us.

Ps 133:1: How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!

The Lie We Tell Ourselves: I want to change but…

How often does a Pastor hear the words, “I want to change but…”
Oswald Chambers says in these few sentences below some straightforward words that many a Pastor would do well to replicate in such situations:

The first thing I must be willing to admit when I begin to examine what controls and dominates me is that I am the one responsible for having yielded myself to whatever it may be.
If I am a slave to myself, I am to blame because somewhere in the past I yielded to myself. Likewise, if I obey God I do so because at some point in my life I yielded myself to Him.
If a child gives in to selfishness, he will find it to be the most enslaving tyranny on earth.
There is no power within the human soul itself that is capable of breaking the bondage of the nature created by yielding. For example, yield for one second to anything in the nature of lust, and although you may hate yourself for having yielded, you become enslaved to that thing. (Remember what lust is— “I must have it now,” whether it is the lust of the flesh or the lust of the mind.) No release or escape from it will ever come from any human power, but only through the power of redemption. You must yield yourself in utter humiliation to the only One who can break the dominating power in your life, namely, the Lord Jesus Christ. “. . . He has anointed Me . . . to proclaim liberty to the captives . . .” (Luke 4:18 and Isaiah 61:1).
When you yield to something, you will soon realise the tremendous control it has over you. Even though you say, “Oh, I can give up that habit whenever I like,” you will know you can’t. You will find that the habit absolutely dominates you because you willingly yielded to it. It is easy to sing, “He will break every fetter,” while at the same time living a life of obvious slavery to yourself. But yielding to Jesus will break every kind of slavery in any person’s life.

We must take responsibility here, who really is your master?

The ‘equality and diversity’ Agenda

Every now and then I find myself in a meeting or a conversation where a group of left wing academic types will be holding forth about the wonders of the present ‘equality and diversity’ framework in the UK; often the same people would be at the forefront of anti-Israeli sentiment, however that’s an aligned but separate issue….

Political Correctness

When I comment on the damage I feel this agenda is doing to the Western (particularly UK) society I’m generally rounded on by all present with something like, “Surely as a Christian you can’t object to this, after all aren’t you lot supposed to be caring and loving and accepting of all?” 
On the surface, this looks to be a fair point doesn’t it? And yes I will, absolutely shout from the rooftops that Jesus’ love is to be shown and shared to all. However the experience of the Christian church in the UK is that the very ‘equality and diversity’ framework which is held in such high esteem by the left wing elite and their media circus, is actually constructed and promoted by those with alternative agendas which sit in opposition to Biblical Christianity.

I think Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, summed this up well when commenting on a recent case of a Christian woman being disciplined for nothing other than being herself (inoffensively) in the work place. Andrea said “Victoria’s case highlights the risks of the current ‘equality and diversity’ framework. Rather than bringing people together and creating more cohesive workplaces where people can be honest about who they are and build meaningful relationships, ‘political correctness’ means that many workplaces are becoming fragmented, superficial and suspicious. People are being forced to hide their identity and the things that matter most to them.”

Dipping in and Out…

This is a piece I wrote a while ago, but I’ve had a few conversations with people recently about this important issue and so I’ve decided to pop it up on the blog. Please feel free to comment!
We live now in a highly  consumer focused culture, and this culture is seeping into church life, and it seems that “church shopping” is becoming a common trap for some Christians.

Is it wrong then to worship regularly in more than one church?
As we might expect the Bible doesn’t address the subject of being part of two (or more) different churches directly. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians opens, “to God’s church in Corinth” (1 Corinthians 1:2), signifying one church, while in Galatians Paul begins with “to the churches of Galatia” (Galatians 1:2), showing there was more than one in the region. Today, however, with numerous local churches, the question of whether it’s OK to attend more than one church on a regular basis does come up.

Firstly, it will help us if we are sure that we fully understand the purpose of church attendance and/or membership. When Christians join together with a local group of believers, we are following the model for the local church (check it out in Acts 2:41-42): “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.”  Also we  can see from Ephesians 4, that believers are meant to come together as a tightly knit family to minister to one another, care for one another and show commitment to one another using the gifts of the Holy Spirit to build up one another in the faith.

The question really is this: can we honestly realistically and effectively pray, have open fellowship, sit under teaching and authority of the word and the eldership, and use our spiritual gifts if we’re not properly committed to a single fellowship?

 

As the Bible is silent on the issue, we must not be dictatorial about it. But what we should do is address the issue of  the motive; by that I mean what encourages Christians to want to not be properly in fellowship with a single church but rather to spread themselves across more than one, and what is the effect (or effects) and consequence of that.

Sadly,  it is often the case that people will decide they want to worship somewhere else, at times, because that way they can just slip in and out without any commitment or any need to give of themselves to others; another reason may be that a person might be looking to pick or choose  something different from each church because they feel they can’t find one church that gives them everything they “want”. The problem with these reasons is that each one of them is counter to Christ’s teaching in scripture about what it is to give to one another; they all have the mentality of “what can I get”, rather than “what can I give”.

 

The biblical truth is that we’re to be actively serving and ministering to one another with the spiritual gift(s) we have received from the Spirit, and when we avoid this by choosing to be absent or prioritising our preferences over obedience to Christ, we can’t do that effectively. Besides this,  it will also show that we are not committed to the believers or the leadership in any one church, and that’s both a feeble witness to others and makes it very difficult to invite others to church .

While there may be legitimate reasons for someone to attend two or more churches,  this will generally only be when the local fellowship doesn’t have an evening or mid-week service, or when there is a special service which requires an individual’s attendance such as a dedication or baptism etc.

 

But when it comes to absenting ourselves from a fellowships main worship service, biblically it is very hard to justify and in practice, it is hard to see how this could fully benefit either the believer or the local churches he or she attends. The answer is not absence, it is rather full immersion into a fellowship – that is the way of both blessing and being blessed, it is the way of a deeper relationship, and a closer walk with Christ.

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