Over the last few weeks we have lived through a sequence of extraordinary events. One month ago, we were celebrating another very enjoyable Denton Community Challenge – thank you very much to everyone who helped or attended – and England having beaten Wales looked like they were finally on their way at the European Football Championships in France.
One month on, we have voted to leave the EU, changed the Prime Minister and government of this country, and been dumped out of the Euros by Iceland. And in these last days, we have been horrified by the brutal massacre at Nice, the attempted coup and aftermath in Turkey, and continuing violence across the USA.
In the midst of all this, and almost unnoticed, the Church of England has been slowly coming apart. During July, the General Synod (the church’s formal governing body) spent three days engaged in ‘Shared Conversations’ about the church and human sexuality, the final event in a two-year process of conversations.
The background here is that in February 2013, Parliament voted to redefine marriage to allow the marriage of same-sex couples. The Church of England is now under great pressure from within to change its historic, Biblical understanding of marriage to accommodate and celebrate same-sex relationships.
It is clear that many on the traditional, orthodox side of the debate were dismayed at the way these ‘Shared Conversations’ were managed and progressed.
Christian Concern have pointed out that as soon as the talks finished, a statement was issued by the lesbian gay bisexual transgender and intersex (LGBTI) mission coalition celebrating the ‘conversations’ and calling on the House of Bishops to “bring forward bold proposals to move towards LGBTI equality,” which, says Christian Concern, is a clear effort to bypass the Synodical process that would involve robust and potentially embarrassing debate and ‘disunity.
Here is a quotation taken directly from the LGBTI mission coalition website: The question is now not whether the situation should change, but how far and how fast changes can be realised. Their agenda therefore seems pretty clear.
Faced with such trials on every side, we must remember that the church is not mine, yours, or theirs. Speaking to the apostle Peter, the Lord Jesus said: I will build mychurch, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it (Matthew 16:18). The church belongs to Jesus and therefore the outcome is secure.
I’m reminded of the story of the American shoe company who sent a salesman to a foreign country. He’d only been there 5 minutes when he cabled to ask for money to come home. The reason, he said, was that no one here ever wears shoes.
The company brought him home and sent out another salesman. Very quickly, he cabled to say: Send all the shoes you can make. The market here is unlimited. No one has any shoes.
Our God is a faithful God who keeps his promises. He calls us to wholehearted obedience and discipleship. And in the midst of great difficulties and uncertainties, there will be great opportunities. Jesus has promised it.
With best wishes,