This week, I’m delighted to be writing again for Evangelical Alliance’s Friday Night Theology. To read the original post, click here.
Over the past few days, there has been much in the media about the decision of the English and Scottish football associations to defy FIFA and allow their players to wear the poppy on black armbands when the two teams meet at Wembley next week. We’ve had Theresa May voicing her support in parliament, people writing in newspapers on both sides of the argument. Loud shouts of support and patriotism, and cries of politicism and point-scoring.
Some have argued that all the posturing and publicity is making the whole thing seem ridiculous, devaluing the reverence of the actual act of remembrance in the first place. For some, it is a point of pride; for others, a personal choice that should be kept out of the spotlight of media and sports stadiums.
In many ways, it is an age-old debate. Does what we feel, what we put our faith in, what we practice and believe and orientate our lives around, have any place in any sort of public forum at all? Crosses worn at work. Having to teach in a classroom what we don’t hold to be true at home. Bibles in hotel bedroom drawers. Being able to speak about our faith openly and plainly without being held up as narrow-minded bigots or crazy loons.
Communicating the gospel – in whatever way you choose to do that in your life – can seem harder now than at any point in history. Emotions and arguments can escalate oh-so-quickly, and before long, the cross of Calvary and its amazing message of redemptive hope, glorious grace and everlasting love has been overshadowed by political points of view, stubbornness and anger.
Finding the right way to express your faith, among pressures from some quarters to keep quiet, and from others to shout it from the rooftops and fight all the way, can be difficult. Being unafraid and unashamed is undoubtedly a biblical motif that we see throughout the story of scripture, but so is one of gentleness, respect and reconciliation.
When Jesus confronts, he does so with uncompromising truth, and unyielding grace. Arriving in Jerusalem by donkey, Jesus tells his disciples that he does so to fulfill Old Testament prophecy: “Say to Daughter Zion: ‘See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey.’” Matthew 21:5 / Zechariah 9:9
Then in the next breath this gentle saviour turns tables in the temple, righteous anger for his Father’s house flashing through his veins. And then again, returns as quick as lightning to drawing to him the blind and the lame; healing them all, children dancing around his feet in praise.
Jesus came to save us. The nature of this mission is described well in the Isaiah 61 prophecy – to preach good news to the poor, to bind up the broken hearted, to heal, to restore, to set free. And that is now our mission too as Christ followers. As it says in Ecclesiastes 3: “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.”
Whether for you it is a time to keep silent, or a time to speak out, may the way we communicate our faith always be orientated – as Christ’s was – around the never-ending goodness and grace of the gospel of God.