Forward to Basics


If we think that God, Ethics and Church, the ideas for our first three discussions, are so wonderful, what is our obligation to witness, to spread the knowledge of what we know to other people? If we believe that our relationship with God changes our earthly experience and promises perfect union with our Creator when we die, is spreading the word:

We are warned by St. Paul and other early Christian writers not to be teachers unless we are properly equipped, so the obligation on each of us is different; we can't all be preachers. Some of us could not face standing on a soap box and proclaiming the love of God.

There are, however, gradations of Christian witness which we ought to consider:

  1. Know what Christianity means for individuals and the world. That is the purpose of this short course of discussions; if we claim to be followers of Jesus we need to be able to grasp the essentials.  If somebody applies for a job as a nuclear physicist a pass in a physics test at the age of 12 will be inadequate. Christians should not accept that what they knew of God at the age of 12 will sustain them throughout life.
  2. Live publicly as a Christian. We must try to live in accordance with a code which the Christian ethic of love determines for our life today. If we are asked why we behave in a certain way we must acknowledge the Christian foundation of our behaviour.
  3. Do not deny God. In our contemporary society God is the subject of mockery and, worse, of indifference. Part of being a Christian is to react modestly, politely but firmly to those who mock, denigrate or attack Christianity. This is not easy; we may feel that we are on firmer ground defending Jesus at our own dining table than defending Him when we are dining out; nonetheless, we need to think about how we reconcile affirming Jesus and maintaining loving relationships.
  4. Affirm God. There are many highly ethical people who do not affirm God and so Christians do not have an ethical monopoly; nonetheless, our ever present consciousness of God's love for us and our God given freedom to love God should give us the strength to affirm God's purposes for ourselves and all humanity; a Christian cannot compartmentalise being a Christian and being a citizen.
  5. Think what sharing means. If Christian living makes us so enlivened and enhanced, so much closer to God, what is the obligation on us to share this joyful benefit, in the way that we pass on even such trivial things as restaurant tips and fashion hints?
  6. Braving controversy. Recently there was a dispute between the Government and the Roman Catholic Church about whether RC adoption agencies could refuse to place a child with a gay couple. The issue was not whether the Govern-ment was right and the church was wrong or vice versa; the issue was whether the secular state's democratic remit should allow it to over-ride Christian codes. As the ethic of the RC adoption agencies was to judge rather than to love, this is not a simple issue but the underlying question is vital for all Christians in a pluralist society.

For most of us, the life experience of mission will not be verbal, it will be practical. Many non Christians provide practical help to people beyond any legal requirement and so it is important not to regard Christian generosity as some kind of monopoly but we must humbly pursue the way of Jesus, quietly and without complaint, prepared to acknow-ledge the inspiration for our love and the hope we have for all our fellow creatures.

If we are not active, others quite rightly will question our commitment. If we like football we play the game or supp-ort a team; if we like local history we examine records or interrogate the landscape; if we are ballroom dancers we practice the steps; if we are aspiring athletes we go into training; if we are committed Christians, we?:

After this summary there is a coda which takes us back to the beginning of our first discussion. During Holy Week in 2007, Somerfield, in a press release to help customers, said that it was selling Easter Eggs in commemoration of the birth of Jesus. We are living in a world that does not understand the shorthand of Christianity used for almost 2000 years. We have to go back to the beginning to explain to ourselves and to others what it means to be a Christian.

And take nothing for granted.