Can a “nation” practise Christianity? (Part 1)

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Hitler’s Germany almost destroyed Europe by “pathological nationalism”. It now threatens it by “pathological altruism” as Angela Merkel makes history by inviting the world into Germany – a move that may yet trigger the demise of the EU.

Has it ever occurred to you that the instinct to defend the defenceless (although not unique to Christian teaching) originates in Europe’s ‘Judeo-Christian heritage’ (i.e. the biblical worldview embedded in our society, which insists individuals have both rights and responsibilities – see Mat.22:34-40). But how can ‘the heritage’ impact a secular Europe today?

If ‘Righteousness exalts a nation’ (Prov.14:34) it’s through the individuals who practise it. So apart from a spiritual awakening, it is through individuals, rightly placed. For example, British Prime Minister Teresa May and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are both daughters of pastors; their lives are marked by the values of the heritage. These women are (whether convinced Christians or not) are typical of Europe’s ‘culturally Christian’ mind-set, which informs political policy, such as immigration and national security. The twist comes when an individual is a politician whose heart the Lord is able to direct (Prov.21:1) – we are to recognise and pray for those who have the rule over us (Rom.13:1-7).

The suffering of migrant Syrians moves all fair-minded human beings, but the Spirit of Christ constrains Christians to want to do something to help, based on the fact that Jesus’ family were refugees his most famous parable which urges us to accept ‘outsiders’, whether Samaritan or Syrian migrants.

It’s the Judeo-Christian heritage itself, which helps explain why the world is trying to come to Europe – and why Europe seems to lack the conviction to stop them. This could be both the greatest strength and weakness of Europeans. I say this because it happens to be migrants (or children of migrants) from Muslim families who carried out all recent terror attacks in Britain and across Germany, Belgium and France.

It’s a theological conundrum; are we to obey Jesus’ teaching literally and love the ‘stranger in the midst’ indiscriminately – even when he uses the welcome as an entrée to destroy us? Or is the English Defence League right when they urge us to pull-up the draw-bridge for self-preservation?

The grace and truth response is an third-way. It urges individuals (whether in the church or government) to be ‘as wise as serpents and as harmless as a dove’ (Mat.10:16-17a). This seems to add balance, which can elude secular politicians, in societies which are only ‘culturally Christian’. This means we are more familiar with biblical principles as ‘the way things are’, rather than appreciating the moral imperatives that challenge the way we live as individuals and as a nation.

Europe is living in unchartered waters where biblical values, which have been questioned by secularists, are now impinging in new ways on society – church and state.

Source: This is a reflection based on a piece by Ed West, writer, which was first published by Lapido Media

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