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Call for churches to offer radical, post-referendum leadership

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Issued by Christian Concern

 

News Release
For immediate release
8 July 2016
 

Call for churches to offer radical, post-referendum leadership

As the Church of England's General Synod prepares for an emergency debate on the future after 'Brexit', Christian Concern co-founders Andrea Williams and Pastor Ade Omooba have called on churches to offer robust, generous leadership in the post-referendum era, driven by biblical teaching and the person of Jesus Christ.

In their 'manifesto of hope', they highlight that "changed people change culture" and say that "the church needs to call the nation to repentance – but first the church needs to repent."

The full statement follows.
 

'A manifesto of hope - Christ Jesus the cornerstone'

A statement by Andrea Williams and Pastor Ade Omooba, co-founders of Christian Concern.

Last year, on May 5 when David Cameron stood in front of 10 Downing Street having won an overall majority (albeit slim) for his government we felt peculiarly subdued at Christian Concern. As far as we could tell, he who had presided over the dismantling, in law, of God’s first building block of society by introducing same-sex ‘marriage’, had ‘got away with it’ and suffered no consequences for such devastating action. The election result caused an abrupt end to the influence of Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband, and left the Liberal Democrats and Labour in disarray. The coalition government had been the last in a succession of administrations that had consistently departed from God’s Truth in governing the nation – whether with regard to the protection of life, fairness to the poor, fairness in education, upholding marriage and family, or the privileging of Islam and other religions and philosophies over Christianity. But the people had not felt strongly enough to register protest.

How swiftly things change. Man is like the flower of the field, it blossoms and withers ... it is only the Word of the Lord that stands forever (Isaiah 40).

The vote for 'Brexit' on 23 June was a protest vote. Some parts ugly no doubt, many parts good. Who could have predicted that within two weeks of the referendum David Cameron would have resigned, Boris Johnson would have quit the Conservative leadership race, Nigel Farage would have stood down from leadership of UKIP, and Jeremy Corbyn would withstand a no confidence motion from his MPs.
 

'We can't go on like this'

Brexit was a moment when, whatever you think of the outcome, the people said ‘we can’t go on like this.’

This was a vote for change. At best, the vote to leave was a vote to reassert our foundational principle of democratic accountability. The British people rebelled against the political elite and the primary reason was to be able to choose and dismiss our lawmakers. There is unquestionably a mixed bag of things that the electorate want to change and an unrealistic expectation, but the notion of an accountable government resonated.

This is the time for the Church, with new energy and vibrancy, new belief and desire, new hope and energy, to enter and fill the spiritual and political vacuum with a Jesus centered vision for a loving, forgiving, moral proclamation of what is good, perfect and true.

Just last year we celebrated the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, which guaranteed individual freedom and equality before the law, both based on Christian principles. This became the foundation of our Christian democracy with an established church, and respect for the Bible at the heart of our constitution. Prayers are still said in parliament every day and the paintings, the sculptures, the traditions and fixtures of parliament all bear witness to its Christian roots.

The EU project, started with laudable intentions of promoting peace, prosperity and cooperation, but became much bigger and more powerful than that. In 2007 the EU deliberately and defiantly avoided any reference to God or Christianity in the Lisbon treaty. The project ended up undermining democracy and imposing enlightenment philosophy –humanism- onto European countries. The story of The Tower of Babel demonstrates that God was the original author of disunity among the nations in order to control and contain their capacity for rebellion against Him.

Let's not kid ourselves however. Whilst the EU has been the driving force for much of the Equalities legislation that has been used to silence Christian voices and discriminate against Christian witness, it is WE in the United Kingdom who have been the keenest in pursuing it; we have been the leading liberalising nation in Europe. And our courts, our elites, even church elites have not protected those that would seek to speak truth into the vacuum. Too often it has fallen to an agency like us at Christian Concern through our Christian Legal Centre, to defend harassed Christians in the Courts in the face of hostile legislation, or legislation that is interpreted in a hostile way. Ironically it has been the European Court of Human Rights that has delivered justice; delivered Christian freedom where our national courts have refused to do so; such is their blindness, so steeped in political correctness and fear.
 

'What is our response?'

So, what is our response?

Prayer. First and foremost, we are called to pray for our leaders and for peace to govern our living and our land. Secondly, we are called to make known the mystery of the universe – that God became flesh and walked amongst us to save us, lead us and guide us. Lastly, we, as believers, are called to hold the nation to account. To outline foundational Christian truths that protect the weak and the vulnerable, nurture righteous behaviour and encourage our freedom to worship the living God individually and together and to live and speak out our glorious faith in freedom. It is our job to seek to ensure the political earthquake fuels a much broader spiritual, political, social and cultural rethink in the country.
 

Changed people change Culture. A Culture under Christ as King is a happy Culture; a secure Culture.

Last month Gay Pride was celebrated in schools, even primary schools – our children wearing rainbow colours and donating to LGBTQI charities. A ‘normality’ that paraded through the streets of London on Saturday where thousands marched for LGBTQI pride, iconising fetish behaviour – men dressed up as puppy dogs in leather - and the elites seemingly desperate to be seen alongside them. Politicians, the police, the military, media personalities, and even some parts of the ‘church’.

We, the Christian people of our nation, need lovingly to assert another truth. We need to LOVE beyond all measure; CARE with complete compassion; have a broken heart for the lost and needy – just as Jesus did.

But we are not loving if we don't also reject the prevailing humanistic and pagan ideologies and stand up firmly against their excesses. The elites are cushioned by wealth from the impact of ungodly laws. The first to suffer are the poor, the underprivileged, and those who truly love Jesus.

Where are our family pride marches? Our Easter marches? Our CHRISTmas marches? Our Hope for the Hopeless marches?

Let us raise up schools, hospitals, businesses, political leaders that unashamedly proclaim Christ as King and encourage those who are doing it and seek to do it.

Too often at these times we either rejoice and sit back, assuming God has taught us a lesson or we retreat, feeling all is hopeless and our role is diminished to the point of irrelevance. This is not that time.

This is the time for the Church with new energy and vibrancy, new belief and desire, new hope and energy to enter and fill the political vacuum with a Jesus centred vision for a loving, accepting, forgiving and moral proclamation of what is good and right.
 

'Stopped in our tracks?'

Brexit stunned us all.

We pray that the political chaos we now see will reflect Habakkuk 1:5,

"Look at the nations and watch - 
and be utterly amazed.
For I am going to do something in your days
that you would not believe,
even if you were told."

 

The psalmist says: "When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?" (Psalm 11:3).

Many churches have wisely responded to the breakdown of society with social action: food banks, debt counselling, street pastors, homeless shelters, all of which are a much needed practical reflection of the gospel in our society. The church now needs to add to these projects - to set up explicitly Christian local and national institutions too. Historically it was the church that founded schools, hospitals and many of the most successful businesses of this nation. Once again the church needs to regain a vision for these things. We need Christian schools, hospitals, universities, corporations, media channels and presence. This will require collaboration between local churches, and many individual church members to take bold steps of faith to use their skills in a different environment.

The church needs to call the nation to repentance - but first the church needs to repent (1 Peter 4:17). As a nation we have turned our back on God’s laws, but we should not be surprised, given that we, God’s people, have not spoken clearly of Jesus and His truth and lived in obedience to Him.

In our nation, we have called good evil and evil good (Is 5:20). The referendum has exposed a deeply divided nation with elements of racism, hatred and anger. God longs to bless our nation. But this will not happen without repentance. And true repentance requires action. We need boldness to proclaim the gospel. There are reports of increased openness to God on the streets of our cities where Christians are boldly taking to the streets and offering to pray for people. We long to see more of this.

Only Christianity can provide a safe and secure moral foundation for our nation. It is Jesus who has the power to transform lives and change nations. Radical obedience to His commands will lead the nation forwards. We pray that God will call and use you in his sovereign plans and purposes for establishing his kingdom here on earth. Pray for God’s will to prevail in all the turmoil and chaos. He is working. His plans will prevail. He is turning the political world upside down. He will raise up new people. Let us pray for Godly leaders to be raised up across all the political parties - and in all spheres of society - who can help to turn this nation back to Him.
 

Psalm 2

Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed, saying, "Let us break their chains and throw off their shackles." The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. He rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, "I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain." I will proclaim the Lord’s decree: He said to me, "You are my son; today I have become your father. Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. You will break them with a rod of iron; you will dash them to pieces like pottery."

Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear and celebrate his rule with trembling. Kiss his son, or he will be angry and your way will lead to your destruction, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him. 

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