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Christians Should be Visible

The Holy Bible readings prescribed for the main Sunday morning Common Worship services since Easter have included passages from The Acts of the Apostles – necessarily because these readings teach us about the establishment and growth of the very early churches and the propagations of the Gospel. These initiations and expansions of Christianity of course stemmed from the Easter sequence of events – the last supper and institution of Holy Communion, the crucifixion of Jesus as universal atonement for sins, the resurrection of Jesus as the living God overcoming death, and the ascension of Jesus who went to prepare places in heaven for all believers. The revitalised apostles spread the message of salvation far and wide and this enterprise was extensively taken up by St Peter and St Paul.

I often wonder what it must have been like for the average person to be a witnessing Christian in those early days – indeed we know that the apostles with the exception of St John were sadly all done away with by the authoritarian oppositions. But what about the average church members like you and me? There is no doubt that the churches grew strongly and widely – so there must have been people to do it and who witnessed to unbelievers very positively and with results – not all were martyred. Did they have special powers, did they have to meet in secret - were they in fact secret disciples? Historically, Christians had a very rough time for some four hundred years after Christ and yet Christianity survived.

What a contrast to the situation today – where we in the UK are free to be Christians without threat of punishment. We don’t have to hide our Christianity – but do we display it? In spite of our freedom, the church size is dwindling, and a large proportion of the population has little idea of what it really means to be a Christian, let alone the true meanings of Christmas and Easter. The pressures of social delights and leisure industries are enormous. These were not present at the time that the church began – it was the worship of gods, made almost mandatory by the Romans, that took people’s minds – and against which the Christians had to argue.

In conclusion, we today have an easier entry into witness for Christ because the majority of the UK population have some belief and understanding of God. The words of two Scriptures encourage us to be obvious Christians. St Paul said, ‘I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith’. The letter to the Hebrews says, ‘Not neglecting to gather together, encouraging each other.’ May we all display our Christianity and encourage one another to do so.

© John F Kennedy 2022.