Bowing down to idols

I was deeply saddened this week to read that St Nicholas Church in Leicester has given pride of place (excuse the pun) to the progress pride flag on its altar.  The Daily Mail online reports that “Church reverend Canon Karen Rooms claims the huge fabric Progress Pride Flag is merely a way of letting visitors know they are ‘welcome and safe”.

I will come back to the ‘welcome and safe’ comment in a moment, but let’s first of all address the key point.  Could the placing of a politicised flag on the altar not be interpreted as a challenge to Christians who do not hold with progressive theology within the church?  A veiled invitation to have them bow down to the idol of LGBT ideology perhaps? Is this not reminiscent of Daniel and the call for all to bow down to the golden statue?  We have an instance here where the flag has become the god of this church’s making, despite the commandment which clearly states that “you shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3).
Time and time again we are seeing churches falter on this commandment, changing the God of the Bible to a god of their own imagination; a god who simply ignores sin because it fits into the secular world view of what love is.
“You shall have no other god before me”; let us make our churches focused on the holiness of God once more, not a place for sweeping and empty gestures that lead people to a god of human design.

What I fail to comprehend is why church leaders try to attract or appease members of the LGBTQ+ community by making sweeping, yet meaningless, gestures of inclusion.  I don’t speak as a casual observer, I speak as someone who came from the LGBTQ+ community and found God in a church where there were no empty gestures of inclusion.  I was met simply with love and friendship, afforded to me in exactly the same way as it was afforded to every other person, gay or straight, who walked through the door.  I walked in the doors of that church, aged 48, not seeking more of the same empty promises and false beliefs of the world. I’d had enough of the world and wanted to see what God had to offer. I was seeking truth, love, acceptance and an encounter with God.  Through being pointed to his holiness, through worship, Bible reading and teaching, all solidly based on the word of God, I encountered him in all his brilliance.

In the 6 months I was at that church, before I made a commitment to Jesus, I was never once encouraged to embrace, or reject, my sexual identity.   I was simply exposed to the gospel and I started to fall in love with the God I met within it, who stood there opened armed and said, come as you are.  It is the Holy Spirit who guides and convicts, we don’t need political symbols, flags or rainbow lanyards to show that all are welcome, the best welcome we can give is to share the love of Christ, he does the rest.

A safe and welcoming church is a church which is a spacious place for every individual to discover the love of God for themselves.  A place where we can meet with Jesus, we can ask tough questions, we can wrestle with him over our questions of faith, and ultimately it’s a place where the noise and opinions of the world are quietened, so that we can truly hear His voice.
I recognise that the Church has not always got this right, but the joy is, we can get it right from now on, there is no excuse not to.  So please, let’s stop pushing this secular agenda and trust that individuals who visit our churches will meet with Jesus and make their own decisions, without our need to influence them one way or the other.  Rather than inviting them to bow down to the idol of this age, let’s make space for them to meet Jesus, the one to whom one day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess as Lord.

For more information on what a spacious place Church looks like, check out our teaching series for church leaders





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