Know you not that we are at war!


‘Know you not that we are at war?!’ a line from the movie ‘Cromwell’ as Oliver shouts into the air in the frustration of being stood up by an ally. Today we find ourselves in strange times. Stricken by the horrors of what we are witnessing in middle East and slowly awakening to the realisation that its been building and happening for years. It is sobering to think that while it was ‘over there’ and ‘their problem’ we could engage with it as and when we chose, now that there is a chance that our own lives could be effected, we are at last, be it ever so slowly, waking up. Although, perhaps waking up is still too strong a term.
My hope and prayer is that it doesn’t take us too long to finally get to our feet and rise to the moment. My concern is that it takes a while for a sleeping giant to wake fully and act responsibly – or so the stories indicate! As I read the moment it seems to indicate that there may be choices we made in the past that have brought us to this point, it also seems to indicate that there are significant voids in our consciousness that are turning into black holes; both these things need a response (not a reaction) a response, now and one that is clear and will take us into the future.
I am encouraged by some of what I am hearing from our leaders, I am relieved by Archbishop Welby’s input to the dialogue yesterday. But the risk is that we can see things, again, as ‘their problem’, not ours. The groggy giant that needs to wake is the people, and in particular the body of Christ – on the ground, in the streets, in the market place. Do we actually believe our (Christian) faith and the things it teaches us – would we build our lives on it, direct our choices, lead our families and our business by it?
Speaking specifically of the UK, it is this faith that has formed the foundations of our society and brought us from the brink of the abys on numerous occasions throughout almost 2000 years of history. It has shaped the things we value and would fight for, but in the last little while it has become a little buried. I think we have forgotten why we care about the things we do, we don’t recall the real reasons behind what makes us distinct from other nations.
I love the church in the UK and I am excited that in recent years it’s becoming more and more engaged and even integrated into the local community. This awakening into holistic mission that is creeping across the church is fabulous but there is another task that builds on this and that has, I believe, much more at stake. It’s the task of calling our entire society back to its song, back to its story, its redemptive purpose, back to the faith of its fathers. I don’t mean that everyone has to become a Christian, but the bedrock values of our faith and of our nation are ones that serve for the Peace of all people regardless of their faith or religion. They are values that make heroes of people, the ones we remember without trying because they remind us that ‘there is good in this world and its worth fighting for’. (in the words of Samwise Gamgee)
Archbishop Justin Welby said in his speech to the House of Lords yesterday regarding the situation in Iraq “…it is also necessary, over time, that any response to ISIL and to this global danger be undertaken on an ideological and religious basis that sets out a more compelling vision, a greater challenge and a more remarkable hope than that offered by ISIL…. We must not rely on a short-term solution on a narrow front to a global, ideological, religious, holistic and trans-generational challenge. We must demonstrate that there is a positive vision far greater and more compelling than the evil of ISIL and its global clones.” The military can do its best, and it needs to, but until the body of Christ and the people at large wake and step up the battle was lost before it was ever begun. This battle will be won through prayer and the turning of hearts and lives and it will result in the transformation of society and a church that has found its knees, its hands, its heart and its voice.

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