David Cameron calls on British Christians to be more evangelical. Why am I not jumping up and down on the rooftops whooping and hollering, and generally celebrating?
Because I’m not convinced.
The Prime Minister doesn’t know what an evangelical is, and I suppose I should have some sympathy with him there.
He uses the word as a verb, a synonym for passion or zeal, only with a religious fervour. Likewise he called for more evangelism, but evangelism for the role of the church in society, rather than sharing the good news that Jesus came to save.
On this weekend when we remember Jesus died to take the weight of all we do to reject God, when we know that he went beyond the grave and rose on the Sunday to triumph over the death that was all too real but could not hold him. On this weekend we should have a clearer view than ever what it means to share the good news. What that good news is and what it does.
The good news is that Jesus saves, not that churches run foodbanks.
David Cameron’s words are a nice way of using language in a way it is almost meant, it is designed to resonate with those for whom they have particular affinity but it doesn’t mean very much. The Prime Minister wants the church to be nice, to provide the endless services it does to communities, to stay when others go, to build resilience, to be the glue that holds things together.
But it is not a coincidence Christians provide the vast amount of support which they do.
It’s not just they have lots of volunteers and are able to mobilise activity.
It’s not a guilt thing, making recompense for the poor record religious institutions might have.
Or a decontamination thing, acting in certain ways so that others will think better. It didn’t work with huskies and it wouldn’t with food banks.
It’s a good news thing. That good news we want to share. What we are evangelical about.
David Cameron wants our good works but despite his talk of evangelism that seems the totality of his good news.
Churches offer incredible services to their community, they remain when others do not, they serve when others walk away, they live while others leave.
And it’s quite nice when this contribution is recognised. When the local council want to partner with you in providing a service, when businesses support you, when the Prime Minister lauds you.
Yet have we sacrificed something along the way? Have we been too quick to keep our calling card in our pocket, has our identity been obscured?
Have we opted for favour over faithfulness?
They are many examples of churches holding true to their beliefs, their motivation and their passion and serving their community.
Look at Street Pastors, you’d have to be pretty dim to miss the church connection.
We have to be the same people whether we’re preaching from the pulpit or sweeping the streets. Whether we’re expounding theology or handing our food parcels. We do not have a Christian button which we flip on when we are in church and off when we serve the public. That’s what being evangelical is all about.
It doesn’t mean we act the same in every context, the words we use from the pulpit won’t be appropriate on the playing field when we’re coaching football.
We don’t do good just to earn the adulation of the authorities. We do good because we believe that the gospel which changes our lives will one day banish every trace of pain and suffering. When good will triumph.
We do good because we get to be partners in bringing this good into our world today while we hope for tomorrow.
We do good because we are called to be good news. We are called to be carriers of the gospel.
When we step into our community, when we serve with passion, when we lead with conviction we are ambassadors for Christ.
It’s not a choice between good works or good news. It’s about both. Always about both.
Being evangelical means speaking truth, it means serving others, it means loving without limits, above all it means know that Jesus saves. This weekend as we remember Jesus’ death and celebrate his resurrection let that be centre stage.