The end of Europe as we know it?
The distinctive nature and heritage of Europe are deeply rooted in the
Christian faith. Just think of its architecture, art, music, literature and
laws all shaped by Christianity. Yet while religion is widespread in
Europe, today few know the God of the Bible and Jesus Christ as Saviour.
More people will plan a trip to the shops on Sundays than to make a trip
to their local church. In fact, one person has said: ‘Europe will have to fall
because it has chosen materialism, although it has kept Christ in reserve
as a window dummy’ (Stanley Jones – Is the Kingdom of God Realism?).
Biblical truth is being traded off in the shifting sands of government
policy. We are abandoning the very foundation on which Europe has
stood for centuries. This is the true crisis facing Europe – it is cutting
itself loose from an accepted basis against which everything is checked.
While there is widespread dismay at the spiralling descent of our
economic systems, this is secondary to our spiritual state. We live at a
time when all claims are presented as valid: we each have our own ‘truth’.
So, Christian faith is a private interest rather than part of public life.
Additionally, we’ve been duped into the belief that the media is the
message – representation trumps reality and feelings more important than
truth claims. The church seems so outdated.
But, there is hope for Europe! Christianity is about a life-changing
relationship with the Lord Jesus who specialises in bringing life from
death. Eastern Europe is seeing a multiplication of Christian disciples and
the widespread planting of churches. France and Belgium have had many
churches planted. Jesus Christ dispels the gloom of our uncertain world
because he alone can reconcile us to God: ‘Christianity is to know God
as your Father’ (Revd Dr Jim Packer). Jesus told
the story of a father who had two sons. One went
off to pursue freedom and enjoy a life of luxury and
immorality. The prodigal son wasted his
inheritance and reached an all time low. But:
‘When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many
of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and
here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you…But while he was still a long way off, his father say him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him’ (Luke 15v17-18,20).
This picture of reconciliation with our Heavenly Father is a message of
great hope and warmth of commitment. People long to discover these
things. As a church it is our role to teach them. As a reader of this article
the invitation is for you to come and discover them for yourself. Please
join us this autumn as we learn these truth together.