Oooh, isn’t it interesting what ignites people’s interest? The mention of something topical and a bit controversial in the blog title yesterday caused a surge in views. The letter in the Daily Telegraph from 50 high profile people complaining about our Prime Minister describing the country as ‘Christian’ made headline news. (I was interested in the use of statistics here – the letter from the 50 said that Christians are a tiny minority, based on Church attendance, while those defending the position refer to the last Census where 6/10 people said they were Christians). And now politicians are fighting back by reasserting what the Prime Minister said and saying things like: ‘it’s difficult for moderate people of faith to express their views because of extremist attitudes’.
One of the ironies is that the values based on the Bible that have shaped this country (such as ‘tolerance’; ‘welcoming the stranger’; ‘care for the downtrodden’; and ‘free will’) are now the values that are being used to say that we can’t assert one faith over any other.
And that doesn’t surprise me because God is a real risk-taker. When he put human beings on the planet with the freedom to choose whether or not we wanted to know him he took the risk that we wouldn’t. When he chose the nation of Israel to be a ‘light to all nations’ as a way of showing everyone what a relationship with him could be like he took the risk that they would assume that they were the ‘special ones’ and see it as a right to be exploited not a privilege to be shared. When Jesus chose twelve somewhat flaky men to be trained up as his followers ready to take on the world he took the risk that they would let him down.
And when God wrote out his ‘maker’s instructions’ for the planet and for people he made them universally fair and took the risk that they would be used against him. God says, “Everyone is equally valuable”; so we reduce faith to a matter of personal choice and say: “Because everyone is equal you can’t say that your God is better than any other god.” God says, “Love me, love your neighbour as yourself”; and we ignore the first bit and reduce the second bit to a Universal Truth: “Respect everyone.”
If you doubt that God is a risk taker, consider this: he wants to use ordinary people (albeit filled with his Spirit) as the ones who will spread the Good News about Jesus around the world. He risks us getting the message wrong, fighting amongst ourselves, being too scared, and blending in with our surroundings so that people don’t notice us. But he also risks us changing the world forever. This may not be a Christian country, but it’s God’s world and he is loving it back – through you and I!
Be blessed, be a blessing.