In many ways last Monday's post was one that I didn't want to write. However, the issues I raised are issues that concern many Christians throughout the UK.
Unfortunately, I think the way that we have sometimes responded to the growth of secularism and of other religions hasn't been entirely helpful. We have adopted a "Christendom" stance. We have protested, quoted scripture to show everyone why and where they are wrong and presented Britain as a modern day Israel with a special relationship with God.
Now, it has to be said that Britain has known incredible blessing from God throughout its history. However, that in itself does not mean that God has any special obligation to Britain or that the British Church has any special claim on God's blessing.
So what about a way forward? I did promise to share a few thoughts.
For me finding a workable solution begins with asking some good questions.
One good question for me is "How does the church relate to a culture that has values that are unsympathetic and sometimes down right opposed to its values and mission?
There are some biblical examples that might help us. For example, the Jews in exile in Babylon. A study of the book of Daniel shows how a follower of the true God not only survived but thrived in an environment that was pregnant with hostility.
Turning over to the New Testament, the witness of the apostles, especially in the Graeco-Roman world is very helpful.
Acts 19 records how Paul saw an amazing move of God in Ephesus. Not surprisingly the locals got upset when the revival began to affect the local economy. The city clerk (35-41) addresses a rioting mob and in v.37 comments "You have brought these men here though they have neither robbed temples nor blasphemed our goddess."
I think we have in this verse an indication of one way forward: we promote Christ rather than attacking other religions or ideologies that compete with him for the hearts and minds of our communities. In other words, let's switch the focus back to Jesus.