Last Sunday I preached at our home chapel. I don’t get the occasion very often and will be surprised if I get asked again. Some people will think that my method of sermon writing is a little extreme and, maybe, thoughtless.
You see I don’t always set out with a topic in mind. I sit down with a blank computer screen and open bible. I then pray and ask God to speak through me. Sometimes the things I had thought of saying never appear in my sermons and I’m surprised that the end result is far from where I started.
Last week things were slightly different. I’d been thinking of the persecution of the church over the past week or so and when I sat down everything just came out in a long stream of consciousness. I then reread things and made a few minor adjustments.
Then, as I was preaching, it came over me that very few people actually showed any reaction. Even when I said about the church’s indifference to the fate of our brothers and sisters in Christ. There was nothing. It made me think of the reception that Old Testament prophets and Jesus received from their listeners; not that I’m comparing myself with them, honestly.
I did get a reaction afterwards though:
A member of the deaconate came up to me and asked if I actually believed what I said about the need for church unity. I’d said that unity was more important than differences over the theology of transsubstantiation, the primacy of Baptism and the 5 points of Canvinism. I was asked if such big theological differences were not important. The way it was said made it clear that such differences were more important to them than unity.
So what is the point of Christ telling us that we are one in body and spirit? I know that, as humans, we are far from perfect, subject to petty jealousies and fears. Yet we have something that drives people to fear and opposition to our message. As such they seek to restrict our message and redicule our faith.
So why shouldn’t we, as Chrsitians, support each other whenever others oppose us. We should not provide ammunition to those who oppose us and give them assistance. We should not be afraid to speak out in support of those who are being persecuted.
I was also told that it was my most political sermon. That was not the aim. I just said that Chrsitians should stand up and be counted. They should be brave enough to draw attention to themselves when others make fun of our faith or attack what we stand for. We need to show that we are proud to stand up for our faith and to show that we are still relevant to the modern world.
We can offer hope and salvation to those around us, especially in these troubled times but to many of us are afraid to draw attention to ourselves and would prefer to live in Christian enclaves where the world won’t trouble us.
Our politicians are happy to tell us that we need to be tolerant of others but then try to tell us that we have no right to evangelise as this is offensive to others. We are told that we are not relevant but when Christian charities try to raise fund to help others they’re told that they are ineligible because proselytising is not allowed. Even if this isn’t their aim because they are Christian it is taken for granted that this is our sole purpose in helping others.
Our government speaks out at extremism but you never hear them object to persecution of the church by muslims, hindus and buddhists. Hundreds are murdered or kidnapped every year but when did you last hear a politician from the West speak out against them. They’re quick enough to call us to help those who persecute and if we speak out then we’re portrayed as racists and out of touch with multi-cultural Britian.
Yes we should recognise the right of others to their faith, or lack of it, but we should also be allowed to speak out without fear or ridicule. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t help others, far from it, even those who persecute us.
We should repay that persection with love and kindness, as Jesus instructed us.