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Get real

“Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword..." Matthew 26.52

Certainly since The Crusades and possibly before then, Christians have (ab)used faith as a tool of coercion. We need to repent of that. Jesus ruled out the use of force to advance God's Kingdom which, instead, must advance through unconditional love, unconditional forgiveness and unconditional generosity. All three find perfect expression in Jesus - but are they weapons against sin and the Devil, or virtues which bless rather than curse those around us?

This might seem like a pointless question, yet it cuts to the heart of what motivates mission and evangelism. In a declining church, which is losing its influence as fast as it is haemorrhaging numbers, mission and evangelism are upheld as essential for our survival. Both are honourable endeavours as long as we apply them with integrity. Otherwise they join the list of abusive practices and here is why...

Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. Yet he did not "frog-march" them into salvation. He served them - healing their wounds, restoring their dignity, forgiving their sins - and, even when they rejected him, he loved them and absolved their guilt (Luke 23.34). No coercion, no manipulation, no deception. That is why Christians must be wary of mixing faith with politics, of confusing outreach with recruitment. We are called to make disciples and we are called to be the salt and light of society.

To be and do that requires integrity, without ulterior motives. Instead of hitching our fortunes to a political party or taking up the denominational cudgels, let us have the courage of our convictions: to promote what is good without fear or favour, to stand against evil wherever it appears and regardless of the cost, to treat everyone with respect finding common cause where we can, to search the scriptures and to heed the Holy Spirit.



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