Many of us now take the ‘information superhighway’ for granted. We can hear football results as they come in, have round the clock updates on the Big Brother house, read instant fluctuations in the stock market. We can see results of Gulf War 2 before the Iraqi people who were being bombed. We can ‘google’ for gossip about anyone and anything that happens. And we can access all of this information from virtually anywhere at any time. And for all this, we remain wilfully ignorant of what is really happening in our world.
George Orwell’s masterpiece, 1984 had expressed the fear that our generation would be deprived of information. With even deeper insight, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World predicted with that we would be so overfed with information that we would abandon interest in it. These predictions seem to be true, and perhaps truest of all for our lively, upbeat, relevant, welcoming churches.
We all know how important it is for our worship to be upbeat. We are living in the age of the Spirit, in the era of resurrection life, Jesus has won the victory. No room for doom and gloom in a lively fellowship. There’s enough in our world that is depressing without hearing more about it at church. So instead, we accentuate the positive, radiate a great confidence in the power of the Gospel, no room to question God’s love for the world. Not when you’re trying to serve Him by saving souls, who by the way do not want to hear all the bad things about our world.
But the reality is that our world is in an atrocious mess. Today, under the same sun as ours, whole families have not eaten and will not eat. Children will search rubbish tips for their meal. Frightened young people will be used as sex slaves in picturesque British towns. What is more, British politicians today are engaged in thinly veiled colonial atrocities in the world’s poorest nations.
I’d be delighted to be proven wrong on any of these points. The facts are there to be found on our beloved information superhighway. But how often is it used for such endeavours? Who wants to know about such things? It’s just depressing, and Christianity is supposed to make me feel better. Why do you have to be so negative?
Christianity has absolutely no value, no credibility, no meaning if it fails to address the doom and gloom of our world with utmost seriousness. Words like resurrection and glory, sacrifice and humility, righteousness and peace, all are watered down into feel-good spiritualised nappy-contents when they are lifted out of the context of suffering in our world.
If we really do believe in the power of the Gospel, the growth of the Kingdom, the Lordship of Christ, then there is no shielding ourselves from the harsh realities of our world. And to acknowledge the doom and gloom, to feel its horror and to question God about it, are not proofs that we have missed the heart of spiritual Christianity. If anything, they prove that we have found it. Because the doom and the gloom is not where the story ends. If they are not part of our story at all, then our Gospel is best rejected by people living in the real world.
But this ugly, messy, unfair, real world is the one that God loves, and that is the beginning of the Gospel.
(Published in BT, 2008)