Monthly Talking Point – July 2018

This month’s edition is provided by
Dr Alison Johnston

Christians are we just an Umbrella

The Christian umbrella has become over-extended. Today, throughout the world, this umbrella covers a lot of things that, according to the Bible, would make God sick at His stomach. Perhaps much of our Christianity has become like the church at Laodicea.

Revelation 3:14-16 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”

One could reasonably assume that the term “hot or old” relates to our relationship to God through Jesus Christ. The question is: “Would God rather us be atheists than lukewarm Christians?” So then, if our agenda goes beyond being centred on Jesus Christ, it could easily be beyond the coverage of our Christian umbrella.

Preachers have a great responsibility. They are responsible to the highest possible authority. It is the one authority that is to be respected by everyone. However, when those whom God has appointed to positions of preaching His word, choose to follow their own agendas from the pulpit, perhaps segregation and condemnation of God’s fellow children belonging to various communities, this based on little or disjointed knowledge of the people they are hurting. That greatest trust has been violated. We all like to make ourselves look good even if it takes exaggeration or grandstanding. This can be observed today in many pulpit performances. Hence the migration of people away from the church.

Christianity has been used to justify many things in our differing societies. The Inquisition of the Dark Ages murdered and tortured many innocents who refused to be physically or spiritually governed by the rules established by the papacy at Rome. Today in modern western culture the hoods of “Christian?” white supremacy have now been joined by the hoods of “Christian?” liberation theology. Where do these actions come from? Surely not from God! So, if not from God then from Satan.

The issue is whether Christianity is going to be represented by biblical authority or some sort of social agenda. One is God-led the other is man-led. The Christian umbrella is not that big. When we reject biblical authority, we allow all sorts of things to enter in – things that are centred around man’s agenda instead of God’s.

It says in: Matthew 7:13-14 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

The truth is that Jesus came to save us from our sins not to justify them or our petty little agendas. Someone wrote that if we are not horrified (terrified) by our own ongoing personal sins or agendas, did Christ really come and save us or was he merely wasting His time?

Of course, as we are all sinners, the differences between us have been abused and used as an excuse to treat various groups poorly; all the more appalling when Bible texts are used as an excuse or justification. Male and female Christians regardless of race, gender, social standing or even LGBT must stand up against these kinds of abuses. Ultimately, it’s a great reassurance to know that God sees all and will judge all rightly. His ways are good and perfect, and in Christ he has rescued us all, equally, no matter the differences.

Today particularly the Church of England is looking hard at itself and engaging the differences while putting right the true teachings of Jesus as we see in Matthew 22:37-39 – Jesus replied: “’Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.

We can now clearly see that churches engaging in change are growing and true Christians are returning to church, or those who do yet know Jesus are enquiring. We can relate this to the symbol that the good Lord has engraved on this earth for us all to see, that is the two seas fed by the river Jordan (the river of life), the sea of Galilee and the Dead sea. The Sea of Galilee full of life and supplying from its base to the surrounding areas life giving substances, enduring constant change embracing new life and growth. While the Dead Sea does not feed anything, it is fed by the River Jordan as a sustaining lifeline of God’s blessings, but not accepting change (as number of churches have not as yet) is resulting, as it is the Dead sea now, in them shrinking and dying out.

Dr Alison Johnston,
Caversham Park Church