What is wrong with this Church of ours, that it makes no impact, that it is silent, has nothing to say or contribute to the world around us? What is wrong is that this church has muffled the gospel, and concealed from itself that this is what it has done. This suppression has been going on for so long that we are now only very tenuously connected to the true Church, the true Church that is created and sustained by the gospel. But we have to hear and return to that one, holy catholic and apostolic Church, the Church of all places and all ages, if the ‘Church of England’ is to be what its name claims.
But we have taken out the cross. We have a gospel without truth and judgement, a message of mere empathy and affirmation, an inoffensive and irrelevant gospel, no longer able to cut through any of the contrary claims it meets.
Our church does not see how much trouble our neighbours are in and does not go to their aid. Its ‘gospel’ offers them no diagnosis, no warning, no corrective, no medicine and no surgery. Our neighbours are in the hands of forces that have no sympathy for them. It is for us to go to their aid. It is for us to challenge the thugs who hold them captive. We have to identify what it is that holds people back and ties them down. We have to point out what troubles them and who is inflicting those troubles on them. We need to find some compassion for our neighbours and for the society around us. We have to find enough compassion for them to tell them the truth, although the truth is just what they do not want to hear. For their sake we have to give them what they don’t want. We have to tell them that they have been preyed on, and they have identified themselves with those who prey on them, and they have been preying on one another. They have been suffering a delusion, and they have been inflicting it on each other. They are both victims and perpetrators, and all have been complicit in a long concealment of the truth. The gospel comes with the shock and hurt of a plaster being ripped off, of the light being suddenly and blindingly switched on, of being dragged forcibly out of bed, of being thrown out of the vehicle and left on the side of road. The gospel shocks, hurts and exposes us.