The messenger is still the message 0
God does not judge the condition nor quality of His Church
by how good the meetings are on Sunday morning, but by how good the people are on Monday.
- RICK JOYNER
If you tune in to the political commentators of our day, those with their ear to the ground, you will hear them clearly sounding the death knoll for a variety of social issues the Church has gone to battle for in our nation.
Says columnist Andrew Cohen, writing in last week's Ottawa Citizen, "Hard line conservatism - on abortion, capital punishment, gay rights - cuts no ice in Canada anymore."
A few days prior to Cohen's analysis of our culture, syndicated columnist Michael Den Tandt, writing in the same newspaper, echoed the identical appraisal of Canadian society.
"Across this country from coast to coast there is now nearly a unanimous view," said Den Tandt, "that old, divisive, angry debates about matters of individual faith and morals are over.
And we're not going back there. Not any time soon, probably not ever."
There you have it, two leading voices in the political sphere giving their frank assessment of the moral shift in the nation. Den Tandt went on to mention the private member's Bill introduced to the floor of the House by Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth. The Tory backbencher wanted Parliament to re-open debate on the subject of when life begins in the womb with the obvious intent that we would revisit The Criminal Code, change it, and give our assent to the reality that human life begins at conception.
Such a profound change to the Code would then, of course, make abortion illegal in the land. In response to Woodworth's motion, Gordon O'Connor, the Conservative whip, sounded forth the government's position. "Society has moved on....," said O'Connor. Speaking on behalf of our Prime Minister, O'Connor was aligning himself and the party he represents with the prevailing notions of our day verbalized by both Cohen and Den Tandt: "It's a new day, there's a new morality, we are not turning the clock back!"
For those of us who believe in Biblical values and furthermore believe that they are essential for the social and moral wellbeing of any country and its future, we must of necessity listen to what those who have their fingertips on the nation's pulse are telling us. It is, after all, not only them who are saying this, it is society as a whole.
In September of 2011, the producers of the TV talk show "Listen Up," a program hosted by Christian journalist Lorna Dueck, commissioned a poll that was done by the firm Ipsos Reid. The pollsters found that only 53% of Canadians believe in God, meaning of course that the remaining 47% are unsure, agnostic, atheistic. Mark these stats, this is the highest percentage of 'unbelievers' ever reported in a poll.
The same poll discovered that 1 in 3 Catholics and nearly 1 in 4 who attend Church service weekly do not believe in God. Add to those findings the fact that 47% of Canadians now believe that religion does more harm than good, and 64% think religion raises more answers than questions.
These stats are unquestionably unsettling for those of us who believe that Christian values are the bedrock and foundation of a just and stable society, but they are, and we must freely make this admission, a true reflection of where Canadian society is at in the Third Millenium.
The Canadian institutional Church, once the standard bearer for morality in the nation, a beacon of light in the darkness throughout the years, and a compass for all who had lost their bearings, has lost its glitter. Its reputation has been sullied, its credibility tarnished, by lack-lustre living and our pervasive addiction to mediocrity.
Scandals, sexual abuse, financial impropriety and pedophilia, are the words that regularly accompany newspaper headlines about the Church. So let's face it, it's really not about "what you do in the pew" on a Sunday, it's more about the public life you live the other six days of the week - that's where the rubber hits the road.
Canadian society in the Third Millenium is not listening to our words. Why? Because they are little impressed by our lives. You see, the message only has relevance if the messenger has a credible character.
Jesus articulated that belief so well, "You are a light," He said. (The Bible, Matthew 5:14)
Listen to this contemporary translation, "You're here to be light...I'm putting you on a light stand....... now that I've put you there......... on a light stand..... shine!"
When you park yourself on the pew on Sunday morning, folks, and some put on their traditional Sunday smile, remember this - it's not about what goes behind stained glass and in the presence of white-robed choirs, it goes deeper than that, much deeper.
Are you living the kind of life in society that radiates with the love of God? Do you love every person who crosses your path? Is your life filled with joy, love and peace? When people brush shoulders with you do they get a glimpse of Jesus by the words that come from your mouth?
You see, it's all about you, every day of your life before your peers and contemporaries, by the life you live, you are marketing Christianity.
Whether those in your cluster of friends want to buy the product really hinges on how 'good' the product is. So, let me ask you dear friend, how good a job are you doing at presenting the product? What kind of messenger are you?
I came out of Tim Horton's the other morning, the young male adult who had filled up my coffee cup had taken his white marker and printed on the top of the cup "W.W.T.R.D" It was a take-off on the original acronym "W.W.J.D." - "What Would Jesus Do?" As I looked at the coffee cup lid I recognized that the letters meant, "What Would The Rev. Do?" It was a needed reminder to me, and should I say, a necessary one, that my life is on display all the time, others are watching. For you and me both, "What do they see?" Some resemblance of the character of Jesus? I hope so, I sure hope so.
For when they see some visible resemblance to Him, maybe, just maybe, our message, the historic unchangeable message of Christianity, will have more credibility in their eyes!
Rev. Eric Strachan is pastor of New Life Community Church in Petawawa.