Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Standing out or blending in?

Christians are supposed to be counter cultural?  We are supposed to stand out not blend in.  No Christian should be a chameleon.  One of the ways that we should stand out is in our concern for righteousness and justice even when it is not in our own self interest.  The prophets repeatedly call Israel out of their lethargy and self interested stupor when it comes to the injustices being carried out in their society, in front of their very eyes.  Jesus calls his disciples and everyone else to be like the good Samaritan rather than the rigid religious minimalist.  Yet as I look at my own heart and the Christian landscape in the UK too often we mimic society in only protesting the issues that directly affect us.  We are effectively an interest group rather than a group that seeks the good of all.

As Christians we are to seek the good of our society and communities.  We are to fight injustice where we find it not instead of but as we proclaim the gospel of hope in Christ.  Yet too often we only campaign about things that directly affect us.  That is wrong!  It is not even being neighbourly let alone going out of our way to bind up, care for, and support the wounded and beaten.

Here's one such current issue to stop think through and ponder am I simply being self interested or am I seeking the good of the community and of people?

Education.  Teachers, governors, and children are under pressure like never before.  Changes to the curriculum, huge rises in expectations expected to be achieved in short spaces of time, and Multi-Academy Trust imposition which will, in some cases, remove local involvement in schools and affect teacher welfare are all putting pressure on those in education.  Headteachers and teachers unions are discussing strikes over such things, some are resigning because they feel so strongly that these things are wrong not just for themselves but more importantly for our children.  An 11 year old child shouldn't be placed under stress in order to be tested, and a 7 year old even less so.  Teaching to test should be anathema in education, yet is becoming a must.

So here's the question how do I respond to that?  Am I self interested; it doesn't affect me so I'm not going to do anything about it, or my child is able and unconcerned so I'm not going to do anything.  Or am I reacting to the injustice and stress being foisted on others?  As Christians we must think carefully about our response to such things.  We need to weigh up whether it is right to obey the God given rulers we have or to make use of the democracy we live in and make our voice heard.  Maybe by writing to express our concerns about the changes an their impact to our MP (www.writetothem.com) and/or the Education department.  We may even want to take part in the pupil strike being organised by Let the kids be kids (https://letthekidsbekids.wordpress.com).  If you find yourself saying but my children aren't in education, or aren't in a state school, or are grown up. We need to ask ourselves why?  Why am I only concerned for the issues that affect me?

You may weigh these issues and decide to do nothing because having looked at them in depth you support the testing and the curriculum changes.  You may decide that you don't know enough yet and you will go and find out more, talk to teachers or children or parents in your church family, ask how you can support them.  You may want to do as I suggest above.

As Christians apathy is not an option.  As Christians a dismissive shrug rather than compassionate consideration and action is not enough.  And this is just one issue, there are lots of others (don't let that put you off or overwhelm you).  But it's a good place to begin.  Imagine the difference it would make in our community if our churches were know as places that loved and campaigned for their well being rather than just our own.

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