Christian in the UK
I was having lunch with a friend recently when her pleasant expression was replaced suddenly by a look of intrigue intermingled with shock and horror. You may wonder what had caused that response. I’d simply informed her in the course of our conversation that I am a Christian. I smiled wryly as her eyes glazed over. It’s a familiar response to Christianity in the UK.
You may be surprised to hear that the UK is become increasingly secular. We see instances of an air stewardess forbidden from wearing a cross to work for fear of upsetting the passengers; of a nurse castigated for offering to pray for a critically ill patient. Last year, a driver of a delivery truck was asked to remove a palm cross on display during Easter for fear of causing offense.
Publicity citing dwindling church attendance and the decline of the Church of England is rife.
It often strikes me that whereas the President of the United States will conclude his rhetoric with a cry of ‘God Bless America’ it would be unheard of for our Prime Minister to utter the same blessing for the United Kingdom.
So what on earth is happening?
Jesus warned ‘Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake’. (Matthew 5:11).
Don’t get it me wrong, it’s literally a world away from the horrific persecutions witnessed across parts of the Middle East and Africa. Here, Christianity seems at best indulgently tolerated because it’s been around a while, a little like your favorite great-aunt who’s once razor sharp mind is in decline.
Prime Minister David Cameron recently called for a return to Christian values to stop the rot. What if we were all to follow the teachings of Jesus whether we believed in him or not? As Christians, we all know the answer to that.
It’s not all negative. Evangelical churches are flourishing, with increasing numbers of baptisms and confirmations, a statistic backed up in my own church. Many churches across the UK were full over Christmas. People seeking answers attend the Alpha Course in their thousands each year (see www.uk.alpha.org for additional information).
Without doubt, ours is a society searching for something; the ‘something’ is what we would identify as the ‘God shaped vacuum’. As Christians, we pray, we take the message of God out into the community, we work with those in need and the underprivileged. We delight in the promise of Jesus in John 10:10 ‘I have come that they may have life and that they may have it abundantly’.
For in the midst of the storm, Jesus continues to transform lives and perform miracles in the ordinary. We must never cease praying for the rest of the country to seek His truth.