Tag Archives: holiness

Inaugurating the Kingdom-A City On A Hill?

Globally, this is a time of uncertainty and disequilibrium. We are currently witnessing, (mostly through the media) a rise in global terrorism that shakes our sense of stability and security to the core. We are observing a growing exodus of forcibly displaced people – a higher number than at any time since the Second World War. It would be surprising if people didn’t find this unsettling!

During times of turbulent change, people often seek refuge in all kinds of fundamentalisms. Fear can make people intolerant of tolerance and disrespectful of differing points of view. Instead of seeking the often complex, hard to understand truth, people look instead for simplistic (post-truth?) answers, soundbites and scapegoats. These scapegoats are often provided by those whose thoughts, behaviours, racial identity or appearance are different from that of the observer. This may affect how the observer acts and how they vote. This sadly permeates the thinking, actions and voting preferences of many within the global church.

Of course Christians can and should have a view about politics and current affairs. Perhaps they have more reason to do so that those of no faith. Personally, I long that followers of Jesus serve in politics at all levels (and in many of the parties) so as to bring something of the values of the Kingdom to their work here on earth. Christianity itself, however, must never be co-opted by Government or ‘the powers’. It is vital that the Church herself maintains an appropriate and critical distance, particularly in these challenging times. If she fails to do so, she will fail to be the much needed prophetic voice that she is called to be!

Sadly, at times in history (and in the present) the Church has been co-opted. God himself, however, cannot be. He is always on the side of the poor, the oppressed and the powerless all over the world. If a person is blessed, that person is called to be a blessing. If a nation is blessed, that nation is called to be a blessing!

You cannot be God’s representative on earth whilst always putting yourself ‘first.’ That is selfish. That is wrong and that is not the godly response of a ‘righteous’ person or a ‘righteous’ nation.

God has a high calling on his people; his church. He is calling her to be shaped by his own ethical, holy character….to reflect his righteousness, justice and mercy to a world filled with evil, oppression and injustice. That is the mission of God’s people. There is no mission without ethics. There is no discipleship without ethics. There is no holiness without ethics. In each case, it must be BOTH AND! Isn’t it time that a Holy Church rediscovers the ethical responsibility of her calling?

Like a ‘city on a hill,’ God’s people/his Church must serve as beacons of hope – standing in solidarity with those whom God would stand with; with those who ‘cannot speak up for themselves.’ A church in alliance with oppressive powers or a church that fails to challenge an unjust status quo is a church that deserves to lose its’ credibility. Worse, it will be a church that is failing to be church on God’s terms and on that basis God may pass his judgement. That, for me, is a sobering thought.

So, you want to be great for God?

A New Year thought that I believe really matters…for me at least! Over the past year, I have heard a number of people say that they want to give their lives to achieve great and significant things for God. That’s probably very worthy. However, it could potentially smack of wanting to be promoted to a position of importance in the Kingdom of God. Surely, the greatest, most significant thing that any of us can do is to humble ourselves before the Lord, seeking to be totally available and obedient to Him. That will help to ensure that our desires are Christ centred, not ‘us centred.’

The Methodist Covenant Prayer reads:

I am no longer my own, but yours.

Put me to what you will,

Rank me with whom you will;

Put me to doing, put me to suffering;

let me be employed for you

Or laid aside for you, exalted for you

Or brought low for you;

Let me be full, let me be empty,

Let me have all things,

Let me have nothing;

I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things

To your pleasure and disposal.

And now glorious and blessed God,

Father, Son and Holy Spirit, you are mine and I am yours.

So be it.

And the covenant now made on earth

Let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.

It’s not an easy prayer to pray, but it is a prayer of deep humility and a prayer of utter abandonment to God….and isn’t that where we should be? Whether we may be laid aside or exalted…..God is still God and His love for us does not differ one iota whether we are busy doing things for him or whether the most we can manage is to just let ourselves be ‘beloved of the Lord’!

Certainly, we can be sure that when God is looking around for those to whom he can entrust leadership, he will be looking first and foremost for those who are both available and obedient.