There are some very important articles in this month’s ET. Richard Turnbull alerts us to the dangers of the phrase, ‘spiritual abuse’ (p.14). We are re-publishing a review of the book Everyday Church in light of the fallout from the Steve Timmis abusive leadership allegations (p.21). And Stephen Rees thinks through the problems which arise when evangelical churches become cult-like (p.17).
But there’s only one topic which is dominating the mind of everyone at the present time – the coronavirus. It’s a fast-moving crisis and information is being updated on an hourly basis, so it would be foolish for this newspaper to deal with specific details which would surely be out of date by the time our readers receive it.
There are lots of helpful articles that have been published elsewhere about our duty to respect the governing authorities, to love our neighbours, to do good to all (especially to those who are of the household of faith), to live by faith not fear, and to seek to make the good news of Jesus known to a terrified world.
But it is also worth saying the coronavirus shows how secular our nation has become. For one thing, it appears that churches and other religious gatherings were an after-thought in the government’s communications. When they told people to avoid gatherings, they gave the examples of pubs, clubs and theatres. No mention of places of worship. A clarification only came in response to a question in Parliament.
Moreover, the absence of any religious commentary in the mainstream media also shows just how secular our nation has become. A crisis of this magnitude would, in previous generations, have warranted some national Christian reaction. A televised address by a leading church figure, or a National Day of Prayer. Yet, at the time of writing, the silence is deafening.
So, it’s down to us to act at a local level. We must be ready to share the peace of the gospel of Jesus Christ with an anxious world. Be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have, with gentleness and respect. And remember the words of Psalm 46, ‘God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear’.