Archive for the ‘Repentance’ Category

The Moral Collapse of the UK

May 21, 2008

If ‘righteousness alone exalts a nation’ then in the last 48 hours the United Kingdom has demonstrated its abasement. In a series of votes passed in Parliament we have seen permission granted for the creation of animal human hybrids for research purposes, permission granted for the creation of ‘saviour siblings’ that is the creation of one life purely for the preserving of another, permission for lesbian couples to have babies without any legal role for the father and the denial of a reduction in the number of weeks at which a human being may be aborted. I feel immensely sad at what has happened. Sad because of what it reveals about the state of the country. Sad for the countless lives that will be destroyed in labs, in wombs and in the aftermath of lesbian adoptions. I feel sad too, indeed ashamed, at my own quiet complicity in all of this. Did I make my voice count? One feeble signature on a petition. Did other Christians make their voices heard?  I scarcely heard a word said by the churches.

I recognise my own need for repentance and that of the nation at this time. We are under the judgement of God and will one day face that judgement. Today we must therefore humble ourselves, repent and call upon His name.

Finally a word of thanks to those courageous men and women in Parliament who sought to withstand this moral capitulation.

Musn’t Grumble

August 27, 2007

I can never recall if it was Francis Xavier or Francis Assisi who said that they had heard men confess to all kinds of sins, even sin they could not imagine but they had never heard anyone confess to covetousness. Covetousness joins that list of invisible sins such as gluttony that scarcely register on the sin radar. I have thought much recently about another invisible sin, grumbling. It is something which truly blights the church but which few take seriously as a sin even though they experience its bitter aftertaste. Yet the God takes the sinfulness of grumbling seriously. If you doubt that then read Exodus 16, Numbers 14 and Paul’s commentary on this episode in 1 Corinthians.

Why is grumbling such a serious sin?

1. In the first instance it is serious because it arises from an absence of grace in or lives or an acknowledgement of that grace. Grumbling in effect says I deserve better.

2. It arises from a resistance to God’s providence in our lives. Like the Israelites we fail to rest in God and trust in Him.

3. Grumbling in churches is very often, as it was in the desert, directed at leaders. There is that failure to be thankful for those whom God has given to the church as His gifts to build up the body of pride.

4. Grumbling is often closely allied with a sense of self-pity.

5. It also arises from pride. Pride which refuses to acknowledge that we are imperfect like the people around us.

6. Where there is grumbling there is an absence of Christian love.

The effect of grumbling in our own souls is to produce cynicism. Its effect on others is to dishearten them. Its effect upon God is to bring the judgement of God.

Grumbling should be taken seriously and we should repent of it.

Rowan, Reparations and Real Repentance

May 24, 2007

‘While it sounds simple to say alright we should pass on the reparation[for the losses incurred by the Church of England due to the abolition of slavery] that was received exactly to whom?’ says Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury. Such are the dilemmas of being an Archbishop. Here once again is the church being driven by a politically correct agenda. If we are going to go around apologising to people who have repressed us and who our ancestors have repressed we are going to find ourselves as Christians in almost infinite regress. The slavery endured by African people was unspeakably horrific. But let us not get involved in the blame game or indeed the pitiful simplicity of rewriting history.

Surely the great need of today is not to apologise for the sins of our fathers. But to repent of our own sins. But that I suppose would be a bit too close to home. For we would have to face up to the evils of the present day. We would have to call sin for what it is (an offence against God) in a blame free culture.
Furthermore true repentance involves not hand wringing over the past but to change by addressing the issues of the present.

We need as Christians to recover the faith that fired Wilberforce and his co-workers. We need also to recover some of the backbone that enabled them to stand up and be counted for an unpopular cause, for no personal gain, simply because it was right and glorifying to God.

Sprurgeon, Mutiny and National Repentance

May 9, 2007

This year marks the 150 anniversary of the Indian Mutiny/Rising/First War of Independence- take your pick. It was to say the least an horrific affair with terrible atrocities carried out by both sides. One of the striking things about the event was at its height Queen Victoria called for a public day of fast, humiliation and prayer. On that date CH Spurgeon delivered a sermon to 24,000 people at Crystal Palace, that great monument to Victorian progress. There are of course a number of things striking about Spurgeon’s sermon. Notably his views of colonialism which are, as one would expect, very much of his time.
But perhaps the most striking thing is his idea of participating in a day of national repentance. For who could imagine such a thing happening today? Who could imagine 24,000 people gathering to hear a man preach on a call to national repentance as he highlights public vice in all parts of society? Yet only 150 years ago there was that widespread recognition that God does not deal with whole nations calling them to repentance. As Spurgeon declared, ‘there are such things as national judgements, national chastisements, for national sins- great blows form the rod of God which every wise man must acknowledge to be, either a punishment of sin committed, or a monition to warn us to the consequences of sin, leading us by God’s grace to humiliate ourselves, and repent of our sin.’
How often do we think of what God is saying to our nation today as He gives us over to the consequences of sin that is not only tolerated in our midst but celebrated?
There will undoubtedly be much talk about the events of the mutiny in the coming months. We may even go through the charade of offering a politically correct apology on behalf of our nation- for the sins our forefathers committed. But we will not take time to heed the lessons that national catastrophes ought to call us to examine our nation before God and to repent of our sin.
You can read Spurgeon’s sermon at www.spurgeon.org