The Lambeth Conference, a gathering of over 650 Anglican Bishops from around 165 countries throughout the world, finished last week. Here are some of the powerful words that Archbishop Justin Welby shared in one of his keynote addresses:
We are only defined by Christ.
And therefore we are called Christians because there is no other way in this world of defining us.
We are not, as Christians around the world, defined by battle or conquerors of territory, we are marked out differently.
Christians are the largest nation on earth. In the first 315 years, Peter’s so called holy nation conquered the world’s greatest empire without the sword. Today there are two billion of us.
All over the world we run schools, clinics, hospitals. We serve refugees, we wash the feet of those on the street, we feed the hungry, we care for the orphan and the alien.
We challenge Governments over justice, we set up charities for those caught in war.
Who created the Red Cross? A Christian. Who created the great hospitals in London? The monasteries. We are harried and persecuted, we are hunted as Christians from one killing ground to another, but we do not hate as our enemies want us to.
The history of the church reveals a body not only full of saints expressing the love of God but of sinners hungry for power.
God’s church preached violent crusades, organised the inquisition, burned people at the stake. God’s church covered up the sins of imperialism, took vast sums of money from slave traders. God’s church rejected renewal where it did not fit established patterns.
God’s church sought to eliminate the First Nations and indigenous peoples from colonised territories.
God’s church fanned the flames of antisemitism and provided a seedbed and a theology for the persecution of the Jews and ultimately for the Holocaust.
God’s church protected earthly power while surrendering heavenly hope.
God’s church split and divided and treated those with whom there was disagreement as enemies, to be tortured, killed or today to be vilified on social media and insulted in many ways.
But this is not just about the past, however recent … also our sins are about the present.
During my nine and a half years as Archbishop of Canterbury, and before this time, I have heard many stories of abuse that was covered up.
Wherever abuse takes place it is the gravest misuse of power. It is the darkest of dark sins. It is an affront to the Gospel of Jesus Christ
Reconciliation in human affairs, as I’ve said earlier this week, is not agreement, it is disagreement in the context of overwhelming and self-giving love: it is disagreeing well.
if you read John’s Gospel there are only three problems with disunity: First, it hinders our prayers. God says when we’re one at prayer, God says in the scriptures, that God will hear our prayers. Secondly it diminished profoundly our sense of God’s love. God said in the scriptures than when we’re united we will know the love of God. Third it absolutely trips up, and slows down, and sometimes stops our mission and evangelism. The Bible says in John 17:21 that the world will know that Jesus came from the Father when we are one. So, apart from prayer, the assurance of Salvation, and mission and evangelism. Disunity is not a problem.
We are revolutionaries.
Communism began with a revolution but as an atheist creed it ignored the sinfulness of people and was consumed by the abuse of power without repentance. The Christian revolution must be one of mercy and forgiveness, generosity and engagement.
A church that leaves the world unchanged around it has been changed by the world. A church that leaves people unconverted has been converted to the world. A church that neglects its internal justice, righteousness and mercy will live unjustly, ruthlessly and sinfully.
A church that is not a place of peaceful revolution will be a church only of history.
But a church that acts righteously, loves mercy, seeks justice, will find the peace of God, the presence of the Spirit and the call of Christ. A church that gives light to the lost will find light in all its relationships and will live in love. A church of God’s revolution will be a church that from generation to generation to generation will see a world transformed.
Which sentences strike you most?