Sunday, May 14, 2017

God and a social revolution revolution

Sermon for the fourth Sunday after Easter





Four little words, and yet perhaps they have stirred something up inside you. Perhaps just even hearing the words has made you uncomfortable and wanting to do something about people’s suffering due to these issues.

It’s clear that, if we are to love our neighbour as ourselves, these issues need tackling and tackling immediately. We see lots of programmes out in society, some secular, some church-led, all geared at trying to fulfil this Second Commandment that the Lord actually repeats from Leviticus. It’s so important for all of humanity to hold this commandment, and it’s very interesting that versions of this commandment exist in religions and philosophies beyond Christianity.

If many people are so committed to it, why is there still so much strife in the world? If there is so much poverty, is it only the greed of the rich that is causing poverty? Is it only those who disregard the value of humanity who generate slavery and abortion? Is it only the selfish who cause injustice?


St James says, “let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God”. If we are to be swift to hear, whom should we be hearing? To whom should we be slow to speak? Surely we should be quick to be angry about the horrible things that are happening to people in the world?

Not for nothing is this the Second Commandment. There is a commandment that precedes it, a commandment that doesn’t appear in other religions and philosophies: “thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” Clearly, a campaign to prevent slavery which includes the idea that “God endorses slavery” is going to be fundamentally against any other campaign to abolish slavery which include the idea that we are in slavery to sin and that God seeks to free us all. Many would-be social reformers are very good at being angry, but end up doing more damage because their anger and indignation is not properly directed.

God clearly says, “vengeance is mine. I will repay!” How is this to be achieved?

Our Lord says that the Holy Ghost “will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgement: of sin, because they believe not on me; of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; of judgement, because the prince of this world is judged.” This sounds a bit cryptic. What does He mean?

As Our Lord ascends into Heaven, He sends down to us the Holy Ghost for the purpose of being present within the Church forever. If God is always present in the Church then this means that the world will always have to answer to God – not to the Church, but to God Himself. He will convict people of sin because they refuse to acknowledge His existence and His Goodness. He will convict people’s righteousness because it is of their own making and not the righteousness that comes from His Creating Presence. They do not see that Christ has already come and already returned to the Father having destroyed the sins of all those who believe in Him. He will convict people of their judgement because they make decisions and pass laws based on Godless theories and Godless politics.


Before we can do any good works in the world, we need to know what Good really is. We can only know what is Good through the Holy Ghost working in us, through obeying His call, through abandoning all social reforms that don’t come from God, and through living the Christian life ourselves as best we can.

The Church does not exist as a means for political revolution. It exists to bring the grace of God to all people and provide a way of life that transcends this little life. Priests are not social workers nor are Bishops politicians: they are servants of the Church to bring God’s grace into the world through the Divine Priesthood of Christ on the Cross. Indeed we must aim to help the poor, needy, homeless, unloved, unwanted, and oppressed – no question. But we do better if we bring God with us so as to administer His grace for all human beings.

Our faith in God is the basis on which God can heal this world. Let us learn to trust and obey Him so that He can work through us and thus make our desire to end the suffering of others effective.

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