The is a phrase “Nature abhors a vacuum” is one we probably have all heard, it means that when something moves something else will fill its place.
Another phrase that I often quote is “for evil to prosper is for good people to do nothing” and I think this is very true in this context, if goodness, grace and righteousness don’t step up to the plate the evil, sin and darkness will willingly jump into the gap.
A friend talked of youth work provision in his village, the Church felt it was “too much effort” to get around all the rural villages with their youth bus so had one central youth club, yet the drug dealers thought driving around the rougher bits of rural communities was worth-while, so the Christian community diminished but the drug problems escalated.
Last night I went to Woodlands Church and heard the new Mayor of Bristol -Marvin Reese- talking about his faith and his work in politics.
Marvin spoke of his life, and it is a picture I have seen a lot in my time, people who stand on the edge of Church/politics/community work and pass lots of comments “I wouldn’t do this or that” from the side-lines. He spoke how this was him, a back seat driver, a grumbling spectator, a moaner from the side-lines until one day he was convicted by the Holy Spirit, and realised that anyone can moan from the edge, but God was calling him to build something, to get involved, to roll his sleeves up and make a difference -not just a noise!
He talked about how toothless love can be if we don’t harness it with appropriate power, I can empathize and sympathise and say how we “feel their pain” but unless we have the power to help then all the warm feelings in the world wont fill a belly, warm a body, or change a situation.
Power -in terms of influence, opportunity, involvement or governance- is neutral not good or bad (just like money and sex, but -like money and sex- when it is misused it has the potential to cause pain and hurt, but when used properly and righteously they can be wonderful and beautiful things).
So, power is not to be avoided, but rather to be used prayerfully in a wisely and in a Godly way.
In fact so often the Christian voice is lost in politics, journalism, the arts, music, education, community development, social science or justice because Christians haven’t stepped up to the plate and got involved with where they have opportunities to speak.
They haven’t seen these critical areas of human life and interaction as the true God-given vocations, ripe with possibility, filled with potential and potentially ministries of transformation and fruitfulness.
Sometimes people think that somehow a Churchy calling is superior calling, as though God can only use Vicars, but I have come to realise our only influence is limited to what one person can do, and often means being surrounded by Christians, where-as those who aren’t involved in Church leadership often have a much more diverse mission-field.
In fact the best thing I can do as a minister is not to encourage you to be faithful in doing the things I do, but rather encourage you to be faithful and fruitful where God has placed you on your front-line.
Too long the Church has stood back from active involvement, yet I think God is calling us to jump in and seek to be a blessing in the midst of the complexity of life, being salty people where things might be decaying, being light where it may be bleak and people that love, hope, care, fight to see the world become more like heaven and less like hell.
So, a challenge, get off the side-lines and serve.
No more back-seat driving, instead get on the navigation team.
The Kingdom calls for us to get up of the couch and roll up our sleeves.
If you can see what is wrong, then I would suggest you are probably called to help make it right.
As the West Wing famously once said “It is harder to build a house than to throw stones at one”.