Monday, 3 May 2010

The Church And Society

Article 3 ~ April 2010

"We see real love, not in the fact that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His son to make personal atonement for our sins. If God loved us as much as that, surely we, in our turn, should love each other. " 1 John 4: 10, 11

. . . it is His (Christ's) explicit command that the one who loves God must love his brother too." 1 John 4: 21

A refusal of some church people to consider the views of fellow-believers of other denominations, much less to take them seriously, is the mark of that divisiveness which bedevils Christianity.

The churches may differ in belief and doctrine, but often their antipathies are about loyalties, animosities, and an unwillingness to live happily together. There is endemic suspicion and distrust even while verbal assent is being given to the Christian concept of brotherly love. It is easy to be self-satisfied when what we have makes for contentment.

There is pride of denomination. We should be more anxious to fulfil the Divine commission, and by learning from others and sharing with them, help in the common cause of bringing people to the knowledge of God and to faith in Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord of their lives.

The task of the whole church is to influence the society of which it is a part, though the extent to which it involves itself in it will often be questioned. Churchmen have been charged, and condemned, for expressing political opinions because 'it should have confined itself to religious matters.'

This denial of Christianity's inclusiveness of everything which affects the lives of people is a refusal to recognise the church's true vocation which is to serve people whoever and wherever they are and whatever their needs.

Christians should fulfil their obligations as citizens, that must mean being concerned with and involved in all that matters to people in their society. There is always the language of religion, but the words which are meaningful today often have political and sociological content. Christian outreach in a secular society must be all-embracing. No subject is without the need of a Christian viewpoint, which will have the purpose of helping people to live happier, better and more useful lives.

The co-operation of the churches is needed in efforts to change our society.

"Sharing such others insights and standing together as Christians is an utterly essential part of our duty if the Christian faith is to remain credible to the people at large." (F. J. Mitchell)

Rev. Canon Dr. S.E. Long

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