The cross is the single most important symbol in the Christian faith because what happened on the cross changed the course of history and the consequences of those events separates Christianity from every other faith system that ever has and ever will exist. The poignancy of the cross cannot be underestimated. The significance of what the cross symbolises can only be ignored by those unaware of it or willfully ignorant of it.
What then shall we say when a church voluntarily offers to cover up crosses and images of Jesus in a church building so as to not offend the Muslims it invited there to offer Ramadan prayers? Is it even appropriate for a church building to be used for such a purpose?
Ashamed of the Gospel
Romans 1:16 says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes”. However it would seem that in the case of St Matthew and St Luke’s Church (the church at the centre of this controversy), they are very much ashamed of the gosepl, or at least the central symbol and essential element of the gospel.
Without Christ there is no possibility of salvation for there would have been no cross and no death of Christ.
With no death of Christ there is no resurrection of Christ.
With no resurrection of Christ there is no possibility of reconciliation of man to God.
Without reconciliation there is no hope.
With no hope we are just simple worthless beings wandering around pointlessly until we inevitably drop into hell, “for all have fallen short of the glory of God”.
This is why the cross is so important and its why it is so concerning that a church would cover up the cross and images of Jesus.
Presumably, St Matthew and St Luke’s in Darlington agrees that we need to evangelise Muslims. There’s a fair chance their opening the church to be used for islamic prayers is rooted in a desire to reach out to the local islamic community – a noble desire. Presumably they subscribe to the Great commission to, “go into all the world making disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, Son & Holy Spirit and teaching them to observe all that [Jesus] has commanded”.
Presumably they also agree that we have all fallen short of God, that the price of sin is death and so an eternity in hell is our default destiny, changed only through the death and resurrection of Christ. Presumably they also subscribe to what John says in chapter 14 that Jesus is the only way to heaven, the implication of which makes every other faith system a sham.
It follows, therefore that if all that be true for St Matthew and St Luke’s, then they agree all Muslims in Darlington need Jesus. I am going to assume this is the case, for if it is not then St Matthew and St Luke’s is a false church, but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt here.
Given all that, it boggles the mind that this particular church seems to think it will see Muslims converted by covering up the symbols which might just help Muslims seek the true God and find salvation through Jesus Christ.
How can we expect to draw people to the difference of life with Jesus if our places of worship are just souless empty places with all references to God, Jesus, the cross and the Bible removed so that the church ends up looking no different to the local community hall or even mosque?
Salt and Light
Jesus calls us to be salt and light. Salt gives flavour and light exposes darkness. How on earth does covering up all signs of Christianity in a church, then inviting Muslims in to pray to their god give flavour to their dry spirits and expose the darkness of the islamic teaching they have received?
If we are to open the church building to Muslims to pray (and there is much to be said separately on the inappropriateness and dangers of that), then we should be getting an extra large cross in for the occasion. Making sure the church ministry team is on hand, having a stack of “Why Jesus” booklets available, prayer walking the building before, during and after as well as praying for the individuals attending the islamic prayers that Jesus be revealed to them by a revelation that radically changes them.
Being salt and light is so much more than just ‘reaching out in love’ (whatever that means). It has a profound effect on how we see every event in the world, how we operate as followers of Christ and thus how we speak of faith and God.
The Welby Gospel
The Archbishop of Canterbury is very keen on reconciliation, but it is not a biblical reconciliation he preaches for the gospel according to Welby is simply about seeking the ‘common good’ (again, whatever that is) and in so doing reconciling man to man.
This sort of reconciliation is completely and utterly vacuous and simply wastes valuable evangelistic time and worse still, leads people of other faiths down the wrong path of believing they can be saved by merely being in harmony with other humans and doing ‘good works’.
The first chapter of Colossians has much to say about reconciliation and it is there we learn that God is, through the death and resurrection of Jesus reconciling all things unto himself. God is not reconciling man to man by helping us to ‘disagree well’ or seek the ‘common good’. He is reconciling us to him and him alone, made possible only through the blood of Jesus that was shed for us on the cross that St Matthew and St Luke’s church now seek to cover up.
Perhaps it is the deceptive teachings of Welby and other similar liberally minded church leaders that has led St Matthew and St Luke’s to believe what they are doing is good and beneficial to the cause of Christ. If it is, then it proves the deceptive teachings in the liberal wing of the church are having a devastating impact. If this church is acting on its own then it needs to be set right.
Fortunately, the diocese has stepped in to ensure the islamic prayers do not go ahead in the church building, citing canon law. Hopefully this is an isolated incident and not part of something bigger.
Awake O Sleeper
The church in the west needs to urgently wake up from its self imposed slumber and silence. It needs to open its eyes to the state of the nation, to the rise of secular humanism and islam recognising that we are in a spiritual war. A war that started in heaven when the devil tried to usurp God and God would not have it.
We need to understand that every time we decide to remain silent instead of speaking out the truth for fear of being different (even though that is what God calls us to be), the devil will fill that silent vacuum with all sorts of lies (such as Islam) that lead people further from the truth and deeper into hell.
We need to understand that every time we cover up a cross in our church we are covering up the symbol at the centre of our faith. If we do that then how can we expect others to see the light of Christ if they are deliberately hidden from it, more concerned with avoiding offending local Muslims rather than being interested in helping pluck lost souls from the clutches of hell?
I really hope this is just a ‘blip’ from St Matthew and St Luke’s Church that can be easily rectified, but if it is evidence of a deeper deception taking root within the church then there is an urgent need to address such heresy before it causes more damage and leads more people away from the truth.