Were the entire world to disagree with me, I would still have no choice but to be faithful to the conviction of my heart before the God of heaven and Earth Who, “Keeps close watch over the whole world, to give strength to those whose hearts are loyal to Him“:
It is sacrilege for any church leader in England to summon the Government of the United Kingdom to account for “over-stepping” their authority (“restricting religious liberty”/closing the churches) all the while refusing to repent for their abdicating complicity in allowing British society to have plunged into the state we are now in.
Boris Johnson’s decision to close the churches in the United Kingdom in March 2020 wasn’t wrong; his decision to do the same again in November 2020 across England isn’t wrong either.
Why? Because it is a false assumption – a “sunk cost fallacy” – that God wouldn’t call the damaging unfaithfulness of the witness of the Church to stop, to die and then to revive in wholeheartedness. Because repentance is intended by Him to be a profound, ongoing, accumulative, increasing way of life that we have substituted for an occasional, isolated event. Because we can not expect the unsaved population of Great Britain to behave as though they were saved – as though they were the redeemed of the LORD.
When British church leaders resist our closing, we are resisting what God is wanting to finally happen:- a coming to the end of ourselves in a historic posture of Body Zero. (This is the sole purpose of my book available here).
When the global Church resists the closing of the churches, we resist the truth that, “…this thing is from Him”.
It seems very clear indeed that we don’t believe that God is this radical and yet, biblically, He always, always wants to get to the very roots of a problem. (See Jeremiah 1:9-10).
Only the Penitent Church Will Stand
God is asking us to look at our chaotic reflection in the mirror of His word and to act accordingly/proportionally. Indeed, it was the late Sean Connery who once famously said on set to his son, (Indiana Jones), “Only the penitent man will pass…”.
Only the penitent Church will stand. And we are certainly not penitent.
Although there will undoubtedly be elements of discrimination towards Christians in the mix of what’s going on, (I’m not completely arguing against that), this specific issue of church closures has got nothing to do with true persecution.
Why? Because there’s nothing legitimate to persecute; because the church are an utter irrelevance to the Government and to wider society at large.
Why would there be any respect for a “religion” that can not agree as to Who their God is? Or what He’s like? Or about what marriage is? Or as to what is holy and to what is filthy?
Why would there be any respect for those who are blind, deaf and mute about infinitely important truths and realities?
Why would the Church be treated any differently to our gyms and swimming pools?
The Government doesn’t care about the Church because we have allowed them to be able not to care. British society doesn’t respect the Church because we have allowed ourselves, over decades, to become wholly irrelevant.
Yet, at the same time, we want to think that we’re special (faithful) enough to have been considered worthy of suffering disgrace for the sake of the Name. (See Acts 5:41). We want to resist the radical sanctification of the Spirit unto faithfulness and then also claim the honour of being specifically discriminated against as though we were fully surrendered.
We want honour from dishonour and grace from disgrace.
I don’t think so.
Something More Radical than a Petition is Required
We can not claim the privileged honour that somehow we are being counted worthy of suffering “disgrace” for the sake of His Name while remaining fixed in the dishonour and confusion of our corporate unfaithfulness.
Can you not see the profound arrogance and lunacy of this? The layer upon layer of perpetuating self-deception?
This is not about us; it’s about those whose salvation is obstructed because of the confused, muddled, contradictory presence of the Church on the earth.
Before you start drafting a social media post to announce the gravity of my error, let me state the obvious truth that these leaders are my brothers in Christ, some are my seniors, and that, although I strongly disagree with their actions (and those of the organisations that are promoting/financing/facilitating these proceedings), I love them very much.
This is very important to stress.
But it follows that I love them – and you – enough to communicate what I believe to be true and thus what I believe not to be true.
Ultimately, I pray every day that we would all want to hear what He is really saying to us, regardless of what that might mean.
Not As Unified As You Might Think
Although a signed petition by a conclave of Christian leaders submitted to the highest Government authority of the land strongly suggests Christian unity, (as did a certain music video back a few months), the actual reality is that there is not the kind of Christian unity beneath the surface that commands the blessing of God.
Think about it: These signatories are from a wide range of denominational expressions of “the church” and offer similar but varying reasons and motivations for their decision to implore the Government of the United Kingdom to renege on their decision to, once again, forcibly close church buildings in England. (You can see the list of church leaders and read their rationale here.)
It is an obvious and fundamental problem that these churches – these leaders – want to pool their collective powers of persuasion and outrage regarding the closure of churches – the hiatus to their “business as usual” – but they don’t want to protest (or teach) about the heinous evil of abortion, the disgrace of “marriage redefined” or of the plague of pornography pilfering society.
We tolerate sheer evil in our midst but still want to feed the poor and remain open as “beacons of hope”.
What appalling arrogance.
These church leaders (again, please check the denominational spectrum represented by the 71) want to “agree to disagree” regarding the Person of the Holy Spirit or what the Bible teaches by way of standards of eldership and even – if we were to widen the petitionary English church circle – the very gospel and nature of God. As though there could be any way that these things were “moderately important.”
Evangelicalism is meaningless.
C.S.Lewis, seeing the hideous strength of this cultural marxism decades ago, once said something about this human tendency to fixate on the temporal to the expense of the eternal, to reduce the critical to the “moderate”.
The Christian “Church” is about as clearly defined and distinct from cultural marxism as a dog’s repeatedly frequented bowl of vomit.
Confronting The Thinking of The 71
If we are even half-serious about reformation, renewal, resurrection and revival – and the Second Coming of our Beloved – we must think (and pray) differently.
“The 71” want to agree that churches shouldn’t be forced closed but they disagree about what’s going to happen (or be said) if they’re allowed to remain open.
As Andrea Williams said in a guest appearance on our podcast last month, the government is a direct reflection of (the chaos of) the Church – its very leaders – and yet these leaders still want to call the Government to account for the direct consequences of the state they themselves are in?!
This is not Christian unity; this is an adulterous, spiritually unfaithful bride unwilling to listen to the voice of their coming Bridegroom King who commands – not suggests – radical, uprooting preparation.
The real absurdity of these calls for judicial review by the churches in England is that they are effectively commanding the Government to repent (to change their mind in a U-turn) in an attempt to exercise their transcendent, spiritual authority that they claim is the base-level rationale for their outrage and defiance, all the while themselves refusing to repent!
This passes beyond the hypocrisy that wider society loathes into the realm of lunacy that the wider culture don’t, and shouldn’t, give the time of day.
God Wants Separation
It is extremely short-sighted, biblically illiterate and naive to think that God would never orchestrate division or, indeed, closure.
Look at Israel and Judah, look at King Saul’s persistent demon, look at Paul’s obstruction from visiting Macedonia, look at Ananias and Sapphira’s smiting, look at the church divisions in Corinth that Paul conceded were essential. (1 Corinthians 11:19).
The Church are commanding the Government to repent all the while refusing to repent themselves. This is beyond hypocrisy…
This staggering appeal for judicial review is a symptom and microcosm of the chaos of the Body of Christ: more concern about the practical ramifications of the church closures than of the landscape of the church that would reasonably require the closure of the churches in the first place.
They seem to conveniently forget that gospel proclamation/loving our neighbour needn’t be affected by church closures at all.
The very pragmatic reality is that the churches have been closed and they will be closed again this week. The glorious song of the redeemed has been publicly muzzled and the primary response is still not to call for national repentance? If English church leaders would have the humility to see the wood for the trees, this simple fact – this potent visual aid – is a powerful prophetic pointer from the merciful heart of a patient Heavenly Father.
There is something very seriously wrong “…in the state of Denmark” and God isn’t wanting us to whine and whimper while levering a rationale of “religious freedom”. He isn’t wanting us to perpetuate everything that is so palpably wrong in the Church; He is wanting us to stop and call all believers everywhere into a long-term, historic posture and lifestyle of radical prayer and repentance…and therefore commensurate witness.
It is as simple – and as agonisingly difficult – as this.
Dogma and division are required and faithfulness to Christ in 2020 will sound shrill.
“Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing.” (1 Timothy 2:8)
The Government should be taking the Church to court not the other way around.
It is precisely because of the responsibility and the spiritual stewardship of the Church, over the state, that our chronic obsession with spiritual lukewarmness and fake unity must be accounted for. It is nothing short of sacrilege to so blatantly disregard and ignore the obvious dramatic intervention of a loving Saviour.
Christ is coming; we must stop living as though He wasn’t.
The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.” (Proverbs 27:12)