The darkness covering our land – the response of the Church

This is the third and final part of this series. The first two parts can be found here and here.

But what about the church, where do they stand? Where do WE stand? It is awful to see that, yet again, when the church is called to be prophets to the nation, we are mostly chaplains instead. When we are called to stand up, to protest, we are so often timid.

Now, to be fair, there was protest in Northern Ireland and a clear position from the churches there. Not that you would necessarily have heard from the media. But in England there seems to have been a conspicuous silence. The Church of England bishops, who have a privileged position in the House of Lords, abdicated their responsibility by not even turning up to the debate on this evil law.

Instead, on the day of the debate, Archbishop Justin Welby hosted a meeting of the Christian Muslim Forum at Lambeth Palace. And tweeted the Lord’s Prayer using emojis to celebrate World Emoji Day. About the slaughter of the innocents – nothing but silence – apparently an event not even worthy of mention.

This is not trivial. To be silent in the face of such barbarity and evil when you have a voice that could be heard is to be complicit in it, to partake in it. To worship Moloch, and to bow down to that false god, and look on with blank faces as the children are torn apart.

Instead, these bishops comment on such issues as brexit and climate change, and always on the socially ‘acceptable’ side. Don’t get me wrong, these are important issues to be discussed. But always, it is to play it safe.

Jesus didn’t play it safe. He was executed as a result. We are called to emulate him. To see a grave evil and say nothing, do nothing, is itself a grave evil. And, coming from the church is so much more so, as we know better, or should – we are called to be Holy, as He is Holy. Not to grub around in the mud of the world.

To these bishops, perhaps James said it best:

You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.  Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us?

James 4 v4-5

In an age where we are led by those who are enemies of God, it requires Christians to make our own stand. Our leaders will not, they are compromised. We have to decide – are we compromised too?

If not, we have to have the courage to make our own stand, to stick our own heads above the parapet. Knowing that the church institutions will likely disown us when we do so. There is always a price to be paid for following Jesus. Carrying His cross for a bit, sharing his sufferings, even if in a very diluted form. Perhaps like this:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled round your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Ephesians 6 v10-17

One thing that brings some hope is that God is not yet silent. The worst judgments I see are the judgments of silence. The ten tribes of Israel, lost after the Assyrian conquest of the northern kingdom. The Jews who returned to Egypt and rejected the word of Jeremiah, only to then be themselves rejected by God. Truly it is most terrible when God has nothing more to say, and leaves people to the consequences of their own choices.

I believe God is still calling, reaching out to us, trying to wake us up to our vileness and depravity, to call us to see with our hearts what it is we are doing. He desires to remove the thick, gnarly opaque callouses on our hearts, our eyes and our minds. Because if we do not see, turn and repent, there will come a point that the weight of blood and evil will become so great that judgment will become unstoppable.

Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die

Rev 2 v3a

I pray that we would do so, that our hearts would be broken, opened, and that we would turn back from this path of blood, before the very land itself rises up against us.

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