Friday, 3 December 2010

Preserving Christian values

I receive different e-mails from organisations whose work is to give a Christian testimony in the public and political sphere. One part of such work is fighting to preserve freedoms that had their roots in Christian teaching.

I think that's valuable work, and thank God for those whom God has raised up with that calling and gifting.

Christians must always remember, though, that "Christian values" are not the root of the tree, but its fruit. Being "salt" to preserve the good fruits of Christianity is a good work. But the next generation needs far more than this work. It needs new fruit to grow, as a result of strong, healthy roots. Slowing down the decay of old fruit is real help. But - to change to a military metaphor - it is a holding operation, not an advance.

"Christian values" are a result of Christian regeneration, from the loving and effective proclaiming of Christ himself to sinners. They are the result of Christ himself coming to live amongst his people. The gospel tells us that without the living Christ, attempts at moral reform are doomed to failure. But if we bow the knee to Christ, then he gives us his own Spirit, and his Spirit will make us new people.

The ultimate and foundational Christian value is that Christ himself is the Lord and Saviour. All other "values" flow out of that one, and are nothing without it. A "Christian" who tries to live their life by copying Christ's behaviour but without this foundation, is no Christian at all - he's living a charade. We may as well make mooing noises, eat grass and then claim we have thus become cows. A real Christian knows, submits to and enjoys God in Christ, and then the real Christian life flows unfailingly out of that. If we really care for our nation then churches and individual believers must first of all focus on that, and the rest must be allowed to come from there.

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