In a world where the Church is being pushed to the margins, providing a source for people’s personal spirituality, or a counselling service on the cheap, or a well-meaning attempt at social work, it is a great lift to see Christians taking their faith back into the very heart of the affairs of the world.
Christian Peacemaker Teams http://www.cpt.org/ have taken Jesus at his literal word and have put their own lives at risk in following the way of the Cross.“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow meâ?, says Jesus in tomorrow’s Gospel and the overwhelming majority of those of us who will attend church tomorrow will think that Jesus’ words are indeed challenging, but, of course, they don’t apply to us.
Anglicans have been skilled at accommodating our faith to the ways of the world; in England there are sincere Anglican Christians who will argue that it is quite acceptable for the Church of England to be Established and to be part of the machinery of State.Would Jesus have really taken a seat in the House of Lords?
The death of Christian Peacemaker, Tom Fox reported on the BBC news this morning, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4795678.stm is deeply saddening, but Christians in former times would have rejoiced at such witness, taking courage in the profound faith of this man who was prepared to put following Jesus before all things.
Tom Fox wrote a reflection the day before he was abducted in December 2005, in it quoting a great Christian of centuries past, George Fox.
“Be patterns, be examples in every country, place, or nation that you visit, so that your bearing and life might communicate with all people. Then you’ll happily walk across the earth to evoke that of God in everybody. So that you will be seen as a blessing in their eyes and you will receive a blessing from that of God within them.”
The killers of Tom Fox want a violent reaction; their currency is that of a never-ending cycle of violence and revenge.The one who Tom Fox follows taught us another way:
‘Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow meâ?, the words will have an added poignancy tomorrow.