PROVERBS 31 – Increasing Your Visibility
As Christmas 2011 approached, The Telegraph published an article where the British Prime Minister called the church to action and higher ‘visibility’ within the community: “David Cameron warned the Church of England that it must keep to an ‘agenda that speaks to the whole country’ as he said Britain should be proud to be a Christian country.” [i]
What most people don’t realise is that David Cameron was simply recalling us back to what we’ve always done. Since Jesus left us two thousand years ago, His global “church” (family/His body) has been fulfilling Proverbs 31:8-9 in significant, history-changing ways. By the middle ages, for example, monastic orders had been established in almost every region of Europe, Asia Minor and North Africa. Most of these were the centre of education, food and agriculture, health services and prayer support for the communities that grew up around them.
As society developed, Christians were behind the formation of the people’s government. They played considerable roles at the forefront of significant social change and laid foundational blocks that underpin almost all areas of today’s western societies. They spearheaded equal rights for education and mainstream schools regardless of gender or financial means. They pioneered safe houses for vulnerable children [ii], took the lead in establishing social services and pushed through most of the major human rights laws, including abolishing the slave trade. Women’s Liberation was first started by Christian women who pushed for a Biblical understanding of God’s male and female image-bearers. Christians came up with our Parole service for prisoners – trusting offenders to a second chance and rewarding good behaviour. They started the nursing service and were up front and centre at the birth of our health service. Even the RSPCA for the protection of animal was founded by Christians.
Many western Laws are in place today because of Biblical Law. Historically, many of the Lord Chief Justices of Britain (that hold the highest place for Justice in the land) have been Christian. Our military and police in western countries are firmly founded on the Christian idea of the ‘fight against evil’ and the protection of peace – or, as in the American constitution provides – to fight for those who can’t fight for themselves. So almost every pillar of Western society have been shaped by strong, highly visible Christians who got themselves into positions where they could speak up, judge fairly, and defend the rights of the poor and needy who couldn’t speak for themselves. [v8-9]
Unfortunately though, since the government took on most of what these Christians pushed for, the church seems to have been ‘out of a job’ when it came to their community care. Where once the church was the only social action establishment in the community, most recently the efforts of the church have been shunned by those in ‘authority’. Christians have had to keep quiet about their identity in order ‘to be allowed’ to take up the role that was once theirs.
In many ways, we’re in the same position that our current Queen is in. She exists because the people don’t want to lose her but she can’t even make a speech to her own subjects without it being written for her. The church today exists because the community doesn’t want to lose it completely, but its voice has been muffled and, in some cases, stopped up. Its hands and feet have been bound for decades. However, with Government cutbacks in welfare and social services since 2008, it may be time again for the Believer to begin to be restored to their original position: visible, and at the centre of all aspects of community life…
To the male image-bearer, who was specifically designed to rule [iii]: “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves – for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly. Defend the rights of the poor and needy…” [v8-9]
To the female image-bearer who was specifically designed to rule [iv]: “…Give her the reward she has earned and let her works bring her praise at the city gates.” [v31]
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[iii] Genesis 1:26
[iv] Genesis 1:27-28