‘Nobody knows what we’re for, only what we’re against when we judge the wounded,’ is a line from the Casting Crowns song ‘Jesus, Friend of Sinners’. I think it’s very apt for the situation that the church in Britain finds itself in today. My thoughts in this blog stem largely from my time at Soul Survivor on Saturday, in which Mike Pilavachi (the guy who runs it) went on a rant about the image of the church at the moment. His point was this: everywhere in the news, people can see what the church is against. Recently, there was uproar over the Church of England’s decision not to appoint women bishops and there is ongoing controversy about the legalisation of gay marriage. As I said to the Christian Union at college today, who wants to join an organisation which only ever talks about what it doesn’t permit? Imagine going to church every Sunday, just to hear sermons about what we’re not allowed to do and behaviour that is unacceptable for Christians. Christians believe different things about the aforementioned issues, but that’s not my point in this post. The point that I’m making is that in the news, people are seeing the church as an organisation that wants to stop people doing things. That is tragically far from my understanding of the church. Life as a Christians is about life in its fulness, not life with limits. Jesus said this: ‘I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full’ – John 10:10b.
It’s all very well me saying this, but it’s not enough. As Christians, we need to go out and tell people what we’re for. That’s what we did in the Christian Union today, we brainstormed things that we want to encourage as Christians then listed a few practical things to help us share those things with non-Christians. We want to encourage mission (both locally and globally), charity work, community, love, respect, honesty, good advice, forgiveness and valuing individuals equally (that doesn’t mean that everybody should be the same, just to clarify). We came up with all these and more! There are so many things that Christians want to encourage and promote in the world, we just need to tell people this! I admit that a Christians saying what’s good about the world probably wouldn’t make it onto the local radio, let alone the national news, but that shouldn’t stop us talking to people and telling them the good stuff, telling them what we’re really about. Rather than judging people in need, why don’t we do everything in our power to meet that need?
We as Christians have to take responsibility for our public image. We can’t just moan that ‘the media are biased against us’. They may well be, but that’s no reason not to get out there and tell people the truth. If we want people to see what we’re really like, that we’re not judgmental bigots who want to remove all fun from the world then we have to tell them that. We have to tell them what we’re for. Tell them about the grace of Jesus. Everyone has sinned and fallen short of God’s standards; we, as Christians, have to accept that and accept that sometimes, it’s not the best idea to tell people everything that they’ve done wrong in their life. Perhaps it’s better to tell that no matter what they’ve done, they can be forgiven.
This is only going to be a short post because I don’t want it to lose it’s impact, so I’ll finish on this: If you’re a Christian, start showing the world what we stand for, start telling people what we’re for. If you’re not a Christian, then please, please, please, don’t make assumptions because of the news coverage. If you’re concerned about something a Christian has done, then talk to a Christian that you trust who can help you make sense of things. We don’t bite, honest.
It’s time to show people what we’re for.
‘In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ Romans 8:37-29