The recent Grenfell Tower disaster has been difficult viewing on many levels. There were some awful scenes, something that has been only too common on our television screens recently.
However, the Archbishop of Canterbury has commented (as have others) on the way people from so many different backgrounds and communities worked together and made a real difference to the lives of the survivors who so desperately needed help. Although the local council tried to do something (some complained it wasn’t enough) it seems the biggest and most effective response came from ordinary people, many of them people of faith. As I thought about this I pondered on what the church can learn from all this. So, for what it’s worth, I share some thoughts:
We don’t have to agree on everything to work together for a common goal. We, as Christians, have a common goal; it’s called, “The Great Commission.” We don’t have to agree on every facet of our faith to do this (I am aware there are certain “non-negotiables”) If you are looking for a church where everyone agrees with everything you believe, you will have only one member - you!
Gossiping, criticising and jumping to the wrong conclusions don’t help. Many complained about the apparent lack of an effective response from the council after the fire (rightly or wrongly) but what really made a difference was the response from local people in the hours immediately after the event. We need to see that anything that tears a community apart is unhelpful to say the least. If there’s a problem we take it to the person and talk it over.
What works is loving, honouring, supporting and choosing to believe the best of those who have the same vision as us.
Political, local government leaders and big business will not change a life or transform this country. No matter whom you support. They are made up of normal, weak, sometimes sinful and self-centred human beings (like all of us really.) There is only One who can give you an abundant life. The church knows Him and needs to share Him with love and compassion. That’s not to say that politics and economics are not important, but they are not the whole answer, not by a long way.
The church as a whole needs to refuse to hate someone because of their beliefs or values. We should believe everyone has value and deserves to be loved. We don’t have to agree with someone’s views to love them; we can disagree strongly with their beliefs and lifestyle, but choose to call out the gold in each life. We serve a saviour who ate with, “tax collectors and sinners.” Who was criticised for the company He kept. Who even chose to love and forgive those who persecuted Him. But He didn’t follow their lifestyle or drop His standards when He was around them. Can we as a church do the same? I believe we can. I am privileged to know people who do just that. People who are passionate to live for Jesus and to show His love to the world. People who, like me, want to do everything possible to create unity in the church and to share an awesome message with the world around. You know who you are and I can’t thank you enough. We were told to lay down our lives and take up our cross. As we live that way and help the one in front of us we will turn the world upside down again. We will realise it’s not about “me.” My ministry, my opinion, my interpretation. It’s all about Him and Him alone. When we think that way we can be vulnerable and develop real unity. One of Jesus’ last recorded prayers was, “that they (that’s you and me guys) all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe You sent me. (John 17v21) When we truly live that way the world will believe. The world is watching, let’s live it. There is no plan B! Let’s all live for the One.